By Sandy Lundy, Shane’s Mom
On Wednesday April 25, 2018 the unimaginable happened. Just two weeks before his 12th birthday, my son Shane took his own life. While tremendous effort was given to save him, there was no hope. We kept him on life support until organ recipients were located.
On April 28, 2018 Shane was gone forever.
Perhaps Shane kept his pain a secret because he was too embarrassed, too proud or too frightened to speak up. We will never know but there is no doubt that someone did. And they kept silent.
Shane was bullied.
He was bullied simply because he loved Broadway Theater. I can assure you that I will never stop being the best advocate for my son and I always have been. I pride myself in knowing that I have done, and will do whatever it takes to make sure my boys are happy, healthy and safe.
I have two choices now: fall into a dark place of which I know I won’t be able to come out of or do what Shane would have wanted me to do – make a positive change. I am working to create a foundation, Shane’s Imagine Nation, that will recognize and reward children who stand up and speak out against bullying.
I intend to activate the silent majority of kids who have either been bullied or have witnessed bullying. More importantly I will promote kindness and instill the concept that kindness is cool (because it is)! The foundation educates and empowers kids to be the heroes with the courage to stop the very bullying that ultimately killed Shane. Learn more at www.shanesimaginenation.org.
An open letter to the kid(s) who bullied my son Shane:
I know you are too young to grasp the impact that your words and actions had on my son, yet I still hold you responsible. You know what is right from what is wrong yet there is so much you didn’t know.
When you called him “gay” what you didn’t know is that he and I had a bond unlike any other. As a result, he tended to feel more comfortable with and trust women. He knew we were nurturing. He understood unconditional love because I would never hurt him. You and your posse of friends saw my son with a gaggle of girls…Perhaps you now can have a better understanding of why he decided to surround himself with people he trusted. Actually, your actions must have only reinforced to him that some people can’t be trusted or respected.
When you made fun of him for loving music and theater what you didn’t see was the light in my son’s eyes when he saw a play and the complete appreciation and passion he had for it. He only wanted to share his passion with others.
What you didn’t know is that he saved his birthday money to buy a ticket for one of his friends who had never seen a play. This selfless act is only a tiny example of the innate goodness that existed within that tiny body. Because of this passion and enthusiasm, you taunted him, ridiculed him and acted so cruelly. I very much doubt you have ever found something to become that passionate about. That is sad.
When you laughed at him, what you didn’t know is how hard he always tried to fit in and be liked. That all he wanted to do is be accepted for the amazing human being he was. He looked up to kids like you to determine his self-worth regardless of how many times I have told him how amazing he is and how other’s perceptions of him are meaningless.
When you called him “retarded”, what you didn’t know is that he was diagnosed with ADD when he was in kindergarten, which clearly only further outcasted him from people like you. What you didn’t know is how hard I fought to find a solution to why my son could not sit still or control his behavior.
What you didn’t know is how extraordinarily intelligent my son was. How his wit made me laugh every single day and how he knew more about most things than I do. How inherently proud I was of him for always turning a negative into a positive, which someday I hope you learn not many people can do.
When you made fun of his clothes and the way he dressed, what you didn’t know is that I am a single mother struggling to make ends meet. And while your clothes may come from the mall, my son’s came from the thrift stores and hand-me-downs. But…he appreciated all that he had because he knew how hard I worked for them.
When you made fun of the shirts he proudly wore from the Broadway shows he had seen, what you didn’t know is that underneath that shirt was a heart of gold. Which thanks to you is gone forever.
What you didn’t know is that he would never let you see him cry. He was smart enough to understand it would only add fuel to the fire. You didn’t know that he would wait until he came home, race upstairs to his room and suffer alone because he was too embarrassed to tell anyone.
What you didn’t know is that the words you have spoken are like weapons. But unlike a cut your words scarred him deep within his soul. Perhaps with time they would have faded. But this I will never know.
What you didn’t know is that I will forever be haunted by the humiliation and pain you caused my son. However, it will never compare to the humiliation and pain he must have felt. If I am being honest, I am not ready to know exactly how long he suffered because it will put me down a hole I don’t want to go down. I would most likely never come out of it either.
You didn’t know your words and actions had seeped into his brain and made him believe that what you said to him was true. He eventually shut down and gave up.
Perhaps with time I will forgive you. Perhaps not.
Perhaps my son could have forgotten the things you have said and done to him. Perhaps not. I will never know.
I fear that my son would have carried these scars with him for the rest of his life. For, someday in the future something will have triggered a memory of what you have done: a song, a smell, a voice…… and would have brought him right back to that moment where he was a vulnerable little boy who only wanted to fit in and be liked.
I will never again have the opportunity to hold him, kiss him and tell him that everything is going to be OK, because it won’t be.
What you don’t know is that Shane’s older brothers have had their childhoods stolen from them too. They will never be the same again because their brother is gone forever.
What you don’t know is that I cry myself to sleep every night. That I hide my pain from my boys because they need to know that I am OK, so that they can be OK.
What most don’t know is that this is the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. That this is not about being strong or courageous – it is surviving.
What you don’t know is the pain I feel when I walk past Shane’s empty room, still exactly the way he left it. His bed is still unmade and his water bottle is still on his nightstand.
I will not feel sorry for you. The fact that my son was a lesson for you to learn is something that I am not willing to forgive.
I cannot imagine how unhappy you must be with yourself. Kind people are kind. Happy people spread kindness. The fact that you were capable of saying such cruel things only exemplifies how you must feel about yourself. Oftentimes the most important lessons are learned the hard way.
You may have apologized for what you have done but you reap what you sow. I promise you that no matter what happens in your life – you will never know the love that I will always have for my sons.
– Shane’s Mom
Sandy Lundy is the Mom of Shane and his two older brothers Ryan and Griffin. She is honoring the life of her beautiful son by educating others about the devastating effects of bullying. She has created an amazing organization called Shane’s Imagine-Nation where children who stand up against bullying are recognized and rewarded. You can find more about Sandy and her important work here, here, and here.