Stories of Shawn


What if your friend was gone tomorrow
and you never told them how you felt?
What if you never again heard their voice,
never saw their face or felt their warm

I just want to say that you are special to me
and you’ve made a difference in my life, I
care for you, I respect you and I cherish our

I want you to know that you are in my
thoughts and in my prayers during this
crucial time in our lives.

Take care & Be well my friend!

My godson, Shawn Porter, died yesterday. It really hurts to write that. I rarely cry, but…

I was touched when a close friend of mine sent the above.

When I awoke this morning, this new, sad reality was my first thought. You’ve probably had experiences like that. When you first wake up you assume it will be another normal day. And then it hits you hard, that it is not.

Many of you know of my compulsion to write. For years I’ve been led by the Spirit to listen, and try to put into words what the voice of God is trying to tell me. I don’t always succeed in converting that interpretation into words. Sometimes I don’t hear anything.

But right now I really want to share a few stories about Shawn. I really believe the following is true. “What comes to matter then is the creation of the best possible story we can while we’re here; you, me, us, together.” Thinking about these stories helps me cope.

From the moment we are born to the time we continue on our spirit journey, we are involved in the creation of the story of our time here. It is what we arrive with. It is all we leave behind. We are not the things we accumulate. We are not the things we deem important. We are story. All of us. What comes to matter then is the creation of the best possible story we can while we’re here; you, me, us, together. When we can do that and we take the time to share those stories with each other, we get bigger inside, we see each other, we recognize our kinship — we change the world one story at a time.

Richard Wagamese (October 14, 1955-March 10, 2017) Ojibwe from Wabeseemoong Independent Nations, Canada

In my present state of sorrow, I thought it unlikely that I would even try to write today. But an awareness of the Spirit is more profoundly felt at this time. I feel Shawn’s love from where he is now. Though we were separated by physical distance these last few years, he in Indianapolis and I in Iowa, he made sure we were connected every day, several times a day, by calling me. I can’t think of a day he called less than 3 times. A few times I’d say I was trying to write, or something similar, and gently suggest he might wait to call for a couple of hours. And he’d always say, “but you have to answer for me”, and I always did. We would tell each other we loved each other.

That separation, when I retired and moved to Iowa, was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever faced. I’ve lived close to Brandon, Shonda, and Shawn all their lives. Because their father, Randy Porter, was my lifelong best friend. When they lived on Lynhurst street, I lived in the garage, converted to an apartment, behind their house. When they lived on Livingston Street, I lived in an upstairs bedroom.

Randy fiercely loved his children and was the largest influence in their lives. On several occasions Randy asked me to be the children’s godfather which I was honored to be asked, glad to accept, although we both knew I would do anything I could for the kids anyway. Shawn’s death brings reminders of the death of Randy, over eight years ago. So the godfather thing really kicked in then.

This photo was taken when Shawn wanted to build a snowman. Fortunately it was that wet snow that held together well. It took a bit of effort and time to get the three round parts. This is the only snowman I remember seeing that also had ears. But that was just the beginning. We had to find parts for the eyes, nose and mouth. He knew what he wanted to use for each of those. He had a plastic bucket for the hat.

Shawn can be persistent. We couldn’t stop until the entire snowman was complete. I wondered why this was so important to him. When we were done he said, “will he come alive now?” Then I understood. There was a 7-Up commercial that showed a snowman coming alive. It broke my heart to have to tell him no, this snowman wouldn’t come alive.

For many years Shawn wore cowboy boots. He liked country music. I came to like country music, also, because Melody Skateland would alternate a country song with a rock song. The kids loved both and I began to appreciate country music, too. For many years Shawn, Brandon and Shonda would go to Melody at least every Friday and Saturday, and often Tuesday and Thursday evenings as well. I stayed there the whole time they were skating.

One time we went to the Old Indiana amusement park north of Indianapolis. Somehow Shawn disappeared. When we found him a short time later, the person who found him said he asked Shawn what his name was, and he said “Achy Breaky Heart”. For those who don’t know, that is a song by Billy Ray Cyrus.

We often talked about his Dad. One of Shawn’s favorite memories was of Randy buying him breakfast at McDonald’s every day on the way to school.

And of course he loved Brandon and Shonda. For a while there was a trampoline in the back yard. We decided to get it for Shawn’s birthday one year. At first he was disappointed, but after he got used to it, he loved jumping on it. He was both thrilled and a bit scared when Brandon would bounce him high in the air.

Shawn was pretty quiet. But he always knew what was going on around him. I remember many times when Randy would get in the car to go somewhere and it seemed every time Shawn flew across the driveway and jumped into the car with him. Randy would look over at me and shake his head, but with a smile on his face. Shawn would be staring straight ahead, wanting to make sure Randy didn’t look at him and possibly say he couldn’t go on that trip. Actually Randy did try to say that a couple of times but Shawn “won” every time.

This photo is another memory. Shawn and Brandon were going to the local gas station for something. They later told us there was a man asking them questions about the arrival of spring. This was in a more innocent time. It turned out he was a photographer/reporter for the Indianapolis newspaper. The next day this photo of Shawn was on the front page. Brandon wasn’t happy because he was in the store at the time.

Shawn deeply loved his girls, Carrie and later, Tryniti. There are of course many stories there, but for another time.

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