A child is irreplaceable! The death of a child is indescribable! Emerson wrote, “A man is what he thinks about all day long.” Then I must be my son, because I think about Trent all day long.

The ever-changing balm of an enchanted seashore awaited me each trip I took to Pawley’s Island, SC. The savory smell of sea salt dominated the ocean breeze and a healing affect occurred from all the Atlantic fragrance I could breathe in. This beach and this beach only had a restorative effect on my soul. Yet, how could I possibly recapture the serenity of a world once perfect that was filled with family, fun, beauty, and everyone present to share in my memories and walk with me on the shores of these South Carolina sands?


Trent loved this Atlantic Ocean beach as much as anywhere on earth and we experienced so many fond memories of what one would simply call, “happy days at Pawley’s.” Summers on the island provided me with my fondest memories of my children. My soul was alive every time I saw the beach from atop the Ducks Nest. And even more tranquil was the feeling that when the pelicans flew over in formation, they carried my problems away with them. I had discovered my sanctuary on earth. Those two weeks of summer bliss began with the cornerstone that I loved my two children with all my heart and soul, and I knew they would always be by my side on Pawley’s shores.

Who could ever guess I now faced the unimaginable decision of whether I could revisit such an enchanting place for the summer of 2013. I could not muster up enough courage to take the trek back to the South Carolina Shore. I knew a rendezvous with time would both rekindle fond memories and bring to my heart additional pain. My son was now dead; my heart was empty, yet heavy and completely lifeless. The joy of reliving a once perfect moment in time was permanently beached with the loss of my son. The reality of stepping on sacred sands just might complete the termination of my heart, yet I knew a visit was needed to begin the healing process. Maybe the love that I once felt with Trent on the shores of our “little heaven on earth” could resurrect a spiritual awakening within me and help resuscitate my depleted soul.

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I wrestled daily with the thought of walking Pawley’s beach again and I knew that I still was not quite strong enough to travel Interstate 20 west towards the South Carolina coast. I desperately needed to return to Trent’s favorite beach to uncover the mystery of suffering, but I felt I first needed to go back to Tennessee, to where it all began. There were friends in my former hometown that I sensed could help me understand what was happening now in my life. They had held the hand of death years before me, and each offered me condolences after Trent’s passing. I considered that I might first begin the journey to Nashville with a simple memory still precious in my mind. Maybe, I should visit the Baptist Hospital parking lot where Trent and I took our maiden voyage home. I wept thinking about placing him in the car seat for his trip with dad, his first adventure in life. He would have many adventures in twenty-two years, and he was a beautiful son! Maybe if I could find some explanations to sorrow where I commenced being a “daddy”, I could then handle the emotional journey back to the South Carolina shores. I knew God was telling me to go back to Nashville first to begin to piece together answers to my inconceivable sorrow. I wasn’t sure I had enough tears left to complete the task, much less to begin it.