The Most Precious Thing I Have Ever Lost

The most precious thing I have ever lost is the prompt for the Daily Post.  The most precious thing I have ever lost is not a thing, it is a person.  My son, Donald Phillip Gwarjanski, died unexpectedly on August 18, 2012, just two days after starting his final semester at Auburn University.  My son was truly precious.

This is the definition of precious from Merriam-Webster:

Definition of PRECIOUS. 1: of great value or high price <precious jewels> 2: highly esteemed or cherished <a precious friend> 3: excessively refined: affected …

My son was highly esteemed and cherished, not just by me, but by the entire family and a multitude of friends, fellow students, teachers, former coaches, and parent of friends.  Donald brought life and light into my life.  His friends say he was the life of every gathering.  Everything Donald did, he did it completely.  There was no middle ground with him.  He always had a smile on his face and was the first to encourage others.  He loved his family deeply, especially his Mimi, my mother.  Donald and I had a special bond , even through his teenage years, which are always tough for a parent.

I’ m not sure why my son died.  I may never know.  When I was pregnant with him, I went into premature labor at 24  weeks and spent the next 10 weeks on strict bed rest. I did everything that the doctor ordered because Donald didn’t ask to be conceived and I was responsible for his health in utero.  I was in and out of the hospital and took various medications to try to postpone labor and to speed the growth of his lungs.  He was so impatient to be born that he arrived six weeks early, only 5 lbs, 2 oz.  But, by the time he was 3 months old, you would never had known he was born prematurely.  He grew fast.  He grew up to be extremely talented in sports.  He was very smart.  He was an only child, but had many close cousins who always enjoyed being with him.  He never felt that he needed a brother or sister.  He had two special friends, Chayse and Matthew, who he considered his brothers, and they also considered him their brother.  These two young men were the first people I talked to when I heard my son had died.  They text and call me frequently.  Matthew was my rock during the planning of the funeral and at the funeral.  He was the only friend who had the composure to speak at the funeral about how special Donald was.

When Donald died, I wasn’t there.  I didn’t know about it for hours.  But that day, at about the time he died, I felt as if something was wrong.  I felt strange and uneasy.  I was with friends and they said I just “went out of it” that afternoon.  Later, I found out that he had been found dead.  My world collapsed.  The light of my life was gone.  I had talked to him the day before but had not seen him since May.  We had plans to have lunch the next week.  I know that the strange feeling I had that Saturday afternoon was when his soul left this earth.

Every day, I think of him.  Every day, I wish the phone would ring with his special ring tone, the Auburn Fight Song, or that I would receive a text from him, as he texted me most days.  As the days get shorter, and the holidays approach, I am apprehensive.  I don’t know how to do holidays without him.  His father and I are divorced, many years now.  Thanksgiving was the holiday Donald always spent with my family.  He loved all the food and Matthew couldn’t wait for Donald to come back to Auburn with leftovers from Mimi’s house.  This year, family members who have not been to Thanksgiving at Mimi’s will be there.  We  have learned, very tragically, that life is even shorter than we ever realized.  I have lost a part of me, a part of my heart and soul, and it was not a thing, but a person, who was most precious to me.


That one second

That one second.   There is no way I could describe this feeling any better.  That second when the coroner told me it was an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.  What?  No, not my son.  I had just talked to him.  He was happy.  He was looking forward to graduation in December, a choice of jobs, a new football season, a date with a girl he really liked.  The detective says he can find no reason that my son would commit suicide, unless “he was not in his right mind”.  Maybe drugs, but maybe not.  We don’t know.  We won’t know for months.  There were no indications of foul play at the scene, but there are some unusual circumstances surrounding this entire event.  An investigation continues.

If my son committed suicide, I will never know why.  I worried about a lot of things while my son lived, but suicide was the one thing I never worried about.  All of his friends say he is the last person on earth who would commit suicide.  So, WHY?  What happened on that day?  What could have been done to prevent it?

I will walk in the next Out of the Darkness walk in Birmingham, AL.  I will reach out to others who have become survivors of suicide.  I will be there for other parents, whose worst second was the one in which they learned their child was dead.  I will treasure my memories of my son, who brought light into every room when he entered.

Fear and Understanding

October 23, 2012

Quote of the Day

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.” – Marie Curie

About Marie Curie

Marie Curie, the pioneering Polish-born French chemist, was the first person to win Nobel Prizes in two different fields.  She was born in Warsaw in 1867.  No Polish school would admit a woman, so she worked as a governess, sending her sister through medical school in France.  Her sister, in turn, sent her to the Sorbonne, where she met her husband, Pierre Curie.  Together they studied radiology, discovering two new chemical elements and inventing the term “radioactivity.” She died in 1934.


This quote, with which I am familiar, touched me this morning.  The death of a loved one is something we all fear.  I never really thought about the death of my son because he was 22, way too young for death.  But, it happened and my unacknowledged, worst fear became true.  Now, I am faced with trying to understand it.  The circumstances of his death are troubling.  There is no explanation for what happened.  There were no signs that anyone could have seen.  Was it homicide, accident or suicide?  We don’t know.  It will be months before the medical examiner provides an autopsy report and toxicology screen.  So, as I go along my journey of understanding and healing, I have the shadow of the unknown hanging over my head.  I am learning not to fear what I may learn, but to try to understand.  However, I feel that I may never truly understand.  All I can do is try.




I just hate it when I write something, hit publish and it totally disappears into cyberspace, never to be found again!  Does that ever happen to anyone else?


I wrote to tell y’all that I’m back.  The past two months since my son’s death have been hard.  Posting was not on my to-do list.    Now, I can barely remember what I wrote just a few minutes ago.  All I can say is that I have been writing letters to my son, Donald Gwarjanski.  I know he won’t be reading them, but I am sure that in heaven, he knows my feelings.  I can feel his presence often.  I write him letters telling him my feelings, what I’m doing, how his family and friends are, and my Bible verse for the day.  It soothes me when my heart aches with the knowledge that I can’t call him on the phone, text him, or drive to Auburn to have lunch with him.  It helps when I am overwhelmed with the details that must be dealt with after any death, much less an unexpected, violent death.  I spent my career in law enforcement, but dealing with detectives, no matter how nice they are, is not something I would have associated with my personal life.  The death of a child is one of the most horrible things any parent can face. Make that, THE most horrible thing.  Fortunately, or unfortunately really, I know others who have lost children and I can talk to them about feelings that others cannot, and should not even try, to imagine.


I have kept up with the blogs I follow.  Reading is one of the few things that transports me out of my hurt, out of my four walls, and out of my city, to other places and thoughts that I might never encounter on my own.  I appreciate the effort you make to post.  I am going to be posting regularly, although I have not the slightest idea what topics I will address.  This will take a good bit of thought.  Until then, those of you who have followed me, keep in touch.  I need and treasure your encouragement.