There is Hope in Every Storm

Beyond the Storms of Life—there is Hope.

The storms of life are inevitable. Hurricane Irma and Harvey have wreaked havoc on the Gulf and East Coasts. Millions are still without power. Clean drinking water is in short supply. Natural disasters abound throughout the world.
But, what about the storms closer to home? The ones we see—homelessness, drug addiction, physical maladies. How do we ride those out? What can we do? How can we help? What about the mother who just lost her son in a car crash? Where’s hope in those storms? Where do we turn to? Or the young family whose primary bread winner just lost his job; the husband and wife struggling to find connection; the middle age child of aging parents who have fallen and are battling the early stages of dementia?

It is far easier to offer help when we see a storm. What about the storms in the inside? The ones we hide? How do we ask for help we are holding on by a thread barely keeping it together and ready to crack from carrying the load of financial responsibility, compassion and care for our aging parents?

How do we find hope in those circumstances? Where do we turn to for help?

How do we find the courage to share what’s going on with us and not be fearful of what another may think? How do we find courage in becoming vulnerable? How do we navigate the storms on the inside when we are worried that we are failing? Not good enough? Where or to whom or what do we turn when our insides are a mess?

I find it in prayer and asking for help. Like the Nike slogan, I just do it.
I have survived many storms in my life. I’m sure you have too. As a recovered alcoholic and drug addict I discovered I could not get sober on my own. I had to rely on a power greater than myself, God. For the grace of God I have been sober for over 30 years. I don’t say that to brag. I say it because I did what I am talking about in this blog. It is an ongoing daily battle between my will and God’s will. Suffice it to say, when I let go and Let God my days are nearly always better. I am not as worried in the inevitable storms of life. I have Hope

Let our willingness to ask for and accept help or spiritual guidance through each storm be a reminder that there is always hope. Let us become willing and hopeful to look for and find a path to safety.

We can never give up hope.

Hope alone is not enough. We can’t solve all the world’s problems. Sometimes we can’t even solve our own.

Even when we think we can do it alone. We need each other. We need to ask for help. To ask for help sometimes requires a leap of faith. It also requires humility—the leveling of our pride not as a sign of weakness, rather it is a sign of strength.
Asking for help takes courage. It requires strength. Ironically, it also requires surrender. By surrender, I mean humility—relinquishing control that we can of our own volition, fix any situation.

The good news is we are not alone.

We can’t fix it, change it or make it go away on our own. We are not God.
Certainly, we can do our part to change, love, support, others and ourselves—emotionally, physically, and financially but we cannot solve it alone.

I am writing this because I have wasted too many hours worrying about how I could solve a situation and what I could do to get out of a mess. Alone, it’s too much work. It’s exhausting.

My prayer is that I seek to understand, to listen and to hear the cry of help from the souls of others so, I may in some way offer a word of encouragement; a word of hope. And that others who love me, see through my masks of “I got it all together” and “I’m fine”  and offer an empathetic ear or to carry my pack and walk through the storms of life WITH me.
For those who may be experiencing a storm of their own, please know, you are not alone. There is hope.

Without hope we are nothing. Without love we are lost.

I’d like to thank Rev. Theon Johnson III, Associate Pastor at Glide Memorial Church for his message today—The world is hurting and your message of hope reached my heart and soul today. It inspired me to do my part to carry it a bit further.

May I remember this day always and draw upon it when I’m in a storm. May it be a beacon to guide me to safe shores.

Thank you!
We are all blessed, indeed.

Love,

Shawn

To find out more about my journey of victory over personal storms, you may like,

Hope Book

http://www.shawnlangwell.com

“Be the change you desire…

They say I’m a dreamer… I’m not the only one…

I love Steve Jobs quote, ”The people crazy enough to think they can change the world are usually the ones who do.”

I believe it. Do you? I’ve seen it happen so many times already in my lifetime.  Someone comes up with a new way to put together things and suddenly we have new industries, new ways of communicating, new ways of travel.

What will be the next big paradigm shift in our world? Who knows? One keeps coming up for me that I am very passionate about.

It’s not new. In fact, it has been around since the dawn of our existence. It is not unique to man either. Before humans inhabited the earth, this powerful force was alive and well. It touched every living creature on the planet in some way. It is something that people will die for. It has the capacity to change someone’s life forever or when withheld, destroy it. It is free which would lead one to believe that it was ubiquitous, but sadly, it is not.

I, like many of those around the world have been at odds with each other over values, opinions, ideals, religion, race, and politics for far too long.

There is something that can wipe away pain, dissension, hate, judgment, and prejudice. Virtually all of us have the solution in us already, sometimes though we don’t use it. Instead we would rather be right or on one side or the other.  We all have the capacity to love.

How hard is it to be kind? How hard is it to love another even if you disagree with their opinion? Would you no longer love your wife or child if they didn’t agree with you? What if they had different values, beliefs, religions than you? What would you do? Would you love them anyway? Why then is it increasingly difficult to do our own part of loving one another? If you stopped to think about it, if we all loved each other, there would be no more war. There would be no more famine. There would be no more hate or prejudice. No, what I am suggesting though, is that the blame has to stop. It’s time each of us steps up and takes personal responsibility to be a little more loving.

All we need is love.

Each of us has within ourselves the capacity to love another human being. Yes, it is a choice. I am not saying that we need to like everyone or even agree. But, for crying-out-loud, embrace our differences!  We are all unique creations with a purpose. I seriously doubt our true purpose in this brief time on planet earth is to tear down each other and consume as much as we possibly can before it’s all gone.

Earth

There is more than enough for all. Some of us have been blessed with more resources than others. We all have a virtually unlimited capacity for love and kindness.  Unfortunately, like muscles, they need to be exercised.

I have done my best not to engage in the slamming of one side or another especially on Facebook. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the fear and hate that is being spread on media like a California Wildfire. We all have choices. We all have our values, morals, ethics, beliefs, and opinions. I am not advocating that we all become yes men and women. I am advocating though, that we need to practice a little more kindness, empathy, and love toward one another.

After reading a couple friends rants and posts on Facebook recently I started to get angry. Rather than engage in the polarized, virtual, not face-to-face dialogue that was only going to go around in circles I posted this instead—

“Be the change you desire— spreading hate just fuels the fire.
Try instead, if we might, to live in peace, harmony, and light.
To love and be loved no fear, no spite.”

Kiss your babies if you got em.  And hold the door open once in awhile.

Love a little more, you’ll feel better, I guarantee it.
Hey, if we all got along a little better we could change the world!

Who wants to prove Steve Jobs right?

Shawn Langwell
Author/Speaker

To hear more listen to recent interview here: Langwell Interview 7-14-17

 

 

Do you occasionally suffer from What-if Syndrome?

What-if syndrome is that gnawing, nagging, often unnecessary feeling that, if left to run wild, can turn into a raging torrent of fear paralyzing us from action. If we’re honest with ourselves, we have all experienced it at some point.

For me, it usually comes up around money issues. What if I don’t close that deal? What If I don’t make that goal? Then what?  Will I have more money than month? How will I pay the mortgage? The car payment? The credit card bill?

Deeper than that though, what-if syndrome may lead to feelings of inadequacy that cause us to doubt and question our worth— Will I fail? Am I good enough? Or feelings of pride— What will others think if I don’t get my kids new clothes for this school year? How will my kids feel if they have to go to a different school?

 In a word, what-if syndrome is worry. At its root, worry is a form of fear tied to our belief system and lack of trust.

Peanuts

I have lived through my share of worry over the years and have pushed through it with faith and effort to keep it at bay. It was not easy, but when it came to my addiction to drugs and alcohol, it was a matter of life and death to overcome it. I had a big enough reason why to motivate me to do something about it.

Like many things in life, it takes diligence and practice to:

a) Recognize worry or a problem when it comes up and
b) Become willing to learn some new skills to address our problems so we don’t stay stuck in them for too long.

I’ll be honest. Right now, I am wallowing in a little self-pity. For the past two and a half years, I have been riding a high from my efforts and blessings at work. I have managed to triple the sales volume for my territory in less than three years. I have written and published a book and managed to make time to work with other recovering alcoholics as a sponsor and mentor volunteer leaders at my local church.  Life has been good.

Currently, however, I am facing a less than ideal sales month and fighting worry while also trying to find the desire to complete my next book on goal setting.  I am dealing with the very challenges I want to write about overcoming.

Is this an accident? I think not. I believe that this is a wake-up call. In a sick twisted way, I am having to practice what I want to talk about.

I am grateful that I now recognize what is going on and how I feel but that, by itself doesn’t change anything. I have to change. So what do I do?

Over the years, I have acquired tools, primarily through AA, on how to cope with and conquer worry and fear. The basics consist of three steps:

1) Identify the problem.
2) Ask for God’s help. (Surrender)
3) Pray for the willingness to allow God to help me.

The short version, which, to outsiders may sound like a cop-out is, I can’t. God can. I think I’ll let him.

But, it doesn’t stop there. I have to do my part, which usually requires work. In most cases that work includes changing my thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes about my current situation. This process takes time.  It starts with humility and honesty and taking a deep personal inventory of what is bothering me. I need to look at my part—what I can and cannot control. That is but a beginning. I don’t have the space to do a deep dive into this right now. I talk about it more in my book, Beyond Recovery A Journey of Grace, Love, and Forgiveness. And I will unpack it even more as one of the blocks in my upcoming book on goal setting. If you want immediate answers or help, there are countless coaches, mentors and counselors well qualified to help.

For now let me give you a personal example of how worry has come up in my life and how I have processed and overcame it.

In very early sobriety, my biggest worry was whether I could go twenty-four hours without a drink. I had tried on my own countless times, with no lasting success.

Then, after several months of practicing the program of AA, drinking was no longer an issue. Instead, I had to face the feelings beneath the surface that I was running away from with drugs and alcohol. Without booze or drugs, I needed to find a new set of tools in order to cope with my feelings.

I found help in the twelve steps of AA. I was willing to do whatever it took to stay sober, one-day-at-a-time and quickly realized that when I worked the steps daily, my days got better.

Yet some things continued to come up—usually feelings around scarcity. I believe these were tied to my belief about not having enough and feeling uncomfortable in my own skin as a teenager.

I was raised in a middle class family until my dad left when I was thirteen. Through my first two years of my high school I had to deal with having very little, money was tight.  I recall my freshman year wearing red Toughskin jeans and a hand-me-down shirt from my older cousin. I was mortified. I felt so out of place. All I wanted to do was belong.  

Adding  to my anxiety was the fact that I went from a small class of forty students to a high school with over twelve-hundred, I was out of my comfort zone.

My solution then was to pour myself into schoolwork and making money. I soon had a job to earn money for new shoes, pants, and shirts I liked. I received praise and recognition from teachers and peers for being smart. In other words, my entire sense of self, how I felt, was dependent on external things—money, clothes, grades, recognition.

I am now realizing how much of my identity is still attached to external factors and how much more work I still have to do to find peace within; to tap into my higher power and be willing to walk through temporary fear, worry, doubt, and insecurity.

I have a feeling that I am not alone. I am sure many of my recovery peers can relate to some of this, perhaps others as well. I know I must overcome this mental block so I may confidently speak about it in a goal-setting book. My guess is that is exactly why I am facing this right here, right now.

I have a higher power. I have faith. God has never let me down before, but I have noticed that sometimes he gives me a challenge as a wake-up call for something he wants to work on in me. So what do I do?

Experience has shown me that what I need is willingness and courage. Along with that, I need to trust that He will show me a way out—He always does, sometimes though, it takes awhile for me to see it. The other thing I need to bring to the table is vulnerability. I need to be humble enough to ask for help, from others and from God. Before any of that though, and most important, I need to know what the problem is—my negative beliefs and what I have bought into, and become willing to develop a new way of thinking to overcome them. What results is greater confidence for the next time I have to face a difficult situation. With practice, I learn to not stay in self-pity so long and more quickly focus on the solution. Sometimes though, I need to sit with it for a bit to look harder at what is beneath the surface so I can better get at the heart of the problem.

In short, I need to do the work, and leave the results up to God. That principle was taught to me in early recovery and it still holds true today. To conquer worry and fear requires faith and effort.

There is no quick fix, and it will not magically disappear. The good news is that we can overcome worry when we apply faith and effort.

Thank you for listening to what I am struggling with in this moment and how I am dealing with it. I know this too shall pass.  I know I am not alone. I hope that some of you have found this post helpful.

If you want to learn more about my story, please pick up a copy of Beyond Recovery, A Journey of Grace, Love, and Forgiveness on Amazon or at any bookstore or smashwords.

Also, if you’d like to be kept up to date on blogs, events, or one of the first to read my next book, please sign up on my email list or follow this blog.

Thank you all for being a part of this journey.

Love,

Shawn

P.S.

If any of this has hit a chord, here is a promise—one of never being let down or alone which has been around for over 2,000 years.

Over the next few days God (your higher power) is going to show you how your worry can be replaced with confidence.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”

Matthew 6:25-32 NIV
http://bible.com/111/mat.6.25-32.niv

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10 NIV
http://bible.com/111/isa.41.10.niv

 

 

Remember to breathe, smell the ocean, and make time to recharge your soul.

In the perpetual hustle of wearing multiple hats— mine are typically, Husband, Dad, Salesman, Friend, Sponsor, and Volunteer— I need to intentionally calendar time off for me.

I did that all day on Saturday with a long hike to the coast. The smell of the salty air and gentle summer breeze were an elixir to refresh my soul.  I came back refreshed, and ready to take on the challenges pf the week ahead.

Yet, even after a one-day respite, I spent most of Sunday doing everything I didn’t do on Saturday.

I have a tendency to go full board and try to do too much. Part of it may be to make myself feel productive. Part may be to show that I have it all together. Still another part may be that I like to have stuff to do. The irony though is I also like down time.

I call this ambitious laziness. I have, for years, made it a game to go, go, go barely pausing until the next goal, job, or item on my to do list needs to be done. I do things as fast as possible so I can sit and do nothing—ergo, being ambitiously lazy.

Inevitably though, running on the hamster wheel of life at a frenetic pace leads to burnout, short temper, and unnecessary stress. Those closest to me, unfortunately get the backlash of my selfish ambition.

In order to stop this vicious cycle, I am practicing putting time on my calendar for me.  I am also spending time each day to listen to or read something inspirational.

Today,  I listened to part one of a 40 days of Love podcast by Rick Warren. It was so good. Whether you’re a Christian or not, his key message is that we must do everything in love.

That seems simple. It takes a conscious effort.  It means being kind to the checker who is clearly frustrated and a little slower than others. It means listening to your spouse when they want to tell you about their day and NOT trying to fix it. It means telling yourself that it is OK to take a break—to do something that brings you joy.

The importance of being still, meditating, praying, or doing whatever you need to to get centered, is so critical to our health and happiness.

So today, when I had some chest pains, I paid attention to my body and went to my doctor. He sent me to the ER for tests. I didn’t want to because I was afraid of what might be and worried about the expense of an ER visit. But after discussing it with my wife over text, I realized that I was making the right decision.

After the doctor examined me, did and EKG, and took blood, he later informed me that there were no indications of any heart incident. No scolding. No condemnation about exercise, lifestyle or habits. No lectures to eat more veggies…Just a matter of fact, professional, qualified assessment of what his tests and exam revealed.

What a relief. I am glad I asked for help and even more grateful that all is well. So is my immediate family.

The bill may be large, but in comparison to my life, I made the right decision. Why am I writing this? Because I have heard no less than 3-4 stories of people who have recently either had a stroke or died and that scares me. We all are faced with many decisions and choices each and everyday. Some are easier than others. When they affect our lives we need to pay attention.

IMG_2146

So for whatever it’s worth, I felt an obligation to share a little of my experience  in the hopes that it may prompt someone out there to be more mindful of their health and put themselves at the top of their to do list for a change. If we do not take care of ourselves, we have nothing to offer others.

Like the flight attendants always say on every flight, “…put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others.”

Life is short.  Live it in love.

Love,

Shawn

 

Feeling Stuck?

Ever feel like you’re a human doing instead of a human being?

Are you caught in the rat race of life feeling like there is never enough time to do all you want to do?

I don’t know about you but I go through seasons in life where things seem to be clicking and all is falling into place as I would like.  I am happy and content, and then something shifts.  I say yes to too many things. I become over-extended. I want to do it all yet there never seems to be enough hours in the day. I come home exhausted, burnt-out, and have nothing left for my family.

Fortunately, there is hope and resources to help. You can learn how to “leverage your thought life to live your best life.”

It takes a concerted effort to break out of the Home-Work-Sleep routine to live life fully as, I believe, we were all intended to.

I have been invited to participate in a “Master Your Mindset” web interview series with Darcy Lubow and 8-12 other coaches, trainers, and thought leaders from around the world.

If you feel stuck and want a way to break through some of the limiting  thought patterns, false narratives, and feelings that may be holding you back from your dreams and goals then you’ll want to sign up for this free event.

It will be live July 5-11. Click below for details and to sign up…registration is FREE.

Free Master Your Mindset Web Interview Series

I hope you can join us.

In the meantime, if you’d like to receive future updates about goal setting, and achieving all you we’re intended to, please join my email list.

Email contact

Thank you for your support and encouragement.

We are all destined to leave this world a little better than it was when we came into it. Let’s do it together by starting with ourselves.

Shawn

I love you Dad.

Dear Dad,
I love you and miss you.
Thank you for your love, even when we were apart.

Thank you for showing me what it’s like to be humble; to be curious about our world, faith, and life.
I feel your presence often and know that you are at peace. I only wish we could’ve spent one more day together to talk about life. I get choked up thinking of all we did and all we could’ve done. We missed out on years of connection, but, in the end, like a relationship with a close friend, when we were able to say I love you to each other and have closure it was as if time stood still. I am grateful for all that you were and all that you gave.
When we meet again, we can have that chocolate milkshake I promised you.
Love,

your son Shawn.

It’s never too late to say, “I love you.”

Those three words have the ability to change someone’s life, or, at least their day.  They are three of the most important words to a child’s ears.

wp-1464277254498Simple loving acts of kindness can also spread joy. Watch how much another lights up when you smile at them. Or when you show genuine interest in another or listen intentionally.

Though all are free, each requires a conscious effort to intentionally take our eyes off of ourselves and put them onto another for a moment, without expecting anything in return.

Yet, often what we get back in terms of joy is invaluable.

 

Two nights ago, while on Vacation in Maui, I stood at the sand shower by the pool hosing off my sandy feet. A small toddler walking with his mother paused for a moment to watch. He was clearly fascinated by what I was doing. I looked at him, then his mom. “It gets the sand off,” I said to the little blond boy, pushing the button and dangling my feet beneath the light spray.

“Wanna try it?” I asked, smiling at him.  He hesitated for a moment then stepped closer. He balanced on one leg and placed his tiny foot under the shower. Beaming, he looked at me for approval. “Good job. Pretty cool eh?”

He beamed and stepped back as I rinsed my other foot. He then moved forward again to do the same.

This was a moment, frozen in time, which I will probably remember for the rest of my life. Will the young lad? Perhaps.

The point is, life is too short to miss opportunities to spread joy; to be loving and kind.

It also made me miss my own son and my dad.

In February of this year I delivered a five-minute talk about my memoir, Beyond Recovery.

My goal wasn’t to convince anyone that they need to get sober. No, my goal was to share that it is OK to let people know you love them and that forgiveness is one of the most powerful ways to do that.

Several close friends and family sat around a long table listening intently as I began reading an excerpt from Beyond Recovery entitled Second Chances. As I scanned the audience, I noticed others leaning in. Some even had tears welling up.

I never really know what will reach someone. Each time I practice telling my story I have to try a few things before I know what works.

I took my seat after answering several good questions then listened to a few other speakers.

When the event was over, the soundman approached me as I began to leave.

He asked if my dad had always said I love you. I paused for a moment, “Yeah, I guess so.”  I replied.

“Why do you ask?”

“Because mine never did,” he said, eyes looking away…

He talked a bit about it. I listened, but didn’t press. I sensed that it was still a sore subject.

He thanked me again for sharing a piece of my story—said it touched him.

“You made my day. Thank you!” I replied, shaking his hand.

We all yearn for two things: Love and Acceptance

Father’s day is this Sunday. Even if your relationship is less than perfect with your father, I encourage you all to let him know you love him. If he is no longer here, perhaps you could write a love letter. Trust me; it will change your world.

If you are a dad, most kids will always love you.  It’s OK to say I love you to them. They need to hear it. If you are a single mother encourage your kids to talk to their dad, if possible.
My hope and prayer and goal by sharing a piece of my heart, that you too will find that which you seek. Sometimes you have to give it before you receive it.

Here’s the excerpt I read.  You can order Beyond Recovery through any local bookstore or on amazon

 

Beyond Recovery A Journey of Grace, Love, and Forgiveness

Chapter 25
Second Chances

 

Miracles and Milkshakes

Whether you believe there are no mistakes or not, I do. I have seen things happen so many times that seemed wrong or painful or didn’t make any sense. When I looked within, prayed, or talked it out with another, I learned to walk through whatever it was that was causing me agony inside. I came through. I survived. …

Miracles happen every day. So do tragedies, I wish I could say the story ends here and we all lived happily ever after…that’s only in movies and fairy tales.

In October of 2005 I got a call from my mom …

“Your aunt called and said that your dad is very sick. You should go see him,” she urged. “He’s at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.”

Shit. Here we go again. Another hospital visit. Why me? Why now?

“Okay. I’ll stop by after work.”

My heart pounded as I parked the car.

Is it too late? What if he’s going to die? How am I going to handle this?

Suffocating from the ‘what ifs,’ I said a short prayer.

“God, please grant me the strength and courage to face this situation. To accept it for whatever it is. To come from a place of compassion and let my dad know how much I love him.”

I walked into the hospital and asked the receptionist which room he was in.

She gave me the number and pointed to the room. I walked down the dimly lit hall. It was quiet. The room was dark. My dad lay in a hospital gown. He’d lost forty to fifty pounds since I last saw him three years earlier. Salt and pepper stubble covered his gaunt face. He looked very frail.

Our eyes met. His warm smile melted away all the pain and hurt and anger of the past thirty-five years.

My heart glowed with his beaming smile. He was truly delighted to see me. In that moment he showed me what it was like to let go of the past. In that moment, despite his body giving up, he was radiant.

His smile filled my heart with so much joy. I was so, so glad it wasn’t too late. I really don’t know how I could’ve handled it if I was too late.

“Hi Dad!”

“Shawn,” he chuckled, “you look good!”

“Thanks Dad,” I said, giving him a hug. “So what’s going on?” I asked, trying to be strong.

“Some infection…they don’t know.”

“Wow. You’ve lost a lot of weight,” I remarked, feeling a little uneasy and very concerned about his health. His smile didn’t match his body. But he was at peace—I could see it in his warm brown eyes. He’s letting go, I thought.

The stubble on his face reminded me of all the times he’d given me a hug and a kiss goodnight as a kid. I felt safe. I looked up to my dad so much as a young child. I could brag that my dad was a fireman! When he left us, all that changed. The love I felt was replaced by anger and hurt. He had abandoned me and my two brothers, and I let it imprison me. I drank over it so I wouldn’t have to face the feelings. But now, the love we shared for so many years was stronger than ever. It enabled me to push through the layers of resentment, like a seedling reaching for the sunlight in spring.

As I held his hand, I felt all that love come rushing back. Fond childhood memories rushed forward. After baths as a child, he would dry my hair by vigorously rubbing it with a towel. I loved that. Now, as we talked about life and how much I loved him, once again, I asked for his forgiveness for all the anger I had held from the past.

Without thinking about it, I began to rub his head—a comforting gesture he had done for me so many times as a kid.

“Dad, I love you.”

“Ha!” he chuckled. His eyes expressed peace, love and care. “I love you, too, Shawn. I’m sorry we lost Seth.” His voice trailed off a bit. (We hadn’t really talked about the loss of my brother since the time several years earlier. I had made amends with this as part of my recovery.) Still, his words touched a piece of the wound that still existed.

“Please let Kelly know I love him, too,” he continued. “Even though I never got to see you boys much, I thought about you often. You were always with me,” he said, holding his hand close to his heart, smiling. Tears streamed down my face. “I know, Dad. I know. It wasn’t easy, but we all turned out all right.”

“Yeah, I’m proud of you, Shawn.”

I wiped the tears from my face. “Thank you. I love you, Dad. Is there anything you’d like?”

“A milkshake,” he replied quickly with a childlike smile.

“A milkshake?”

“Yeah—chocolate.”

I smiled at the simplicity of the request.

“I’ll get you a milkshake the next time I come back, okay?”

“I’d like that.” We hugged and said our goodbyes.

That was the last time I saw my father. He passed shortly thereafter.

I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t make it back to get him his chocolate milkshake. I feel a little guilty. I could’ve just gotten it that day. I guess I’ll just have to wait until I see him again. Now, every time I have a milkshake, I think of my father. I imagine us sitting on a park bench watching the ducks, sipping on a milkshake together. Somehow, that helps assuage my guilt. I feel blessed that I got to say goodbye. This experience also serves as a reminder to make peace with those closest to us—to cherish the time that we do have. Our life on this planet is so very brief. Depending on your beliefs, there’s plenty of time for milkshakes in Heaven.