Wednesday, February 16, 2011

All About Kerry

Today would have been my son's 32nd birthday.  Maybe it still is.  I'm not sure.

I just know that I miss him and that I feel intense sadness and loss.

For me, his birth day is harder than his death day.  I remember so much about his birth - the incredible rush of emotion that washed over me, in me, and is with me...still.

But there is so much that I can't remember.  I can't remember seeing him unhappy.  I can't remember knowing he was in pain.

I can't remember the last time I held him.  Maybe thats why he came to me a few days after his passing.  I was sleeping but it was no dream.  He was standing on the sidewalk, near the front of his house.  I got out of an old, grey, beat up car.  He was crying.  His arms were stretched open.  He held me tight.  He said he was sorry and we both cried.  I woke with his tears on my pillow.

It is still so hard for me to believe that he was gone.  I used to google his name over and over again - convinced he was only hiding.

I found his last comments under a Washington Redskin fan site.

I found his last known address.

I found his Most Improved Athlete award, under the Greenwich Dolphins swim team.

I found a reference to Kerry Magann on a freaky sci-fi video game page.

Now, if you google his name, you'll mainly find my words to him, about him - on memorial websites and on my blog.

That makes me sad.

Today, once again, I googled Kerry.  Not much has changed.

Then I googled images of Kerry Ryan Magann.

There were lots of pictures of Kerry.

Kerry smiling.
Kerry as a young boy.
Kerry holding his son.
Kerry laughing.
Kerry as he wants to be remembered.

Here are a few of my favorites...

Kerry running a 3.2 mile race.  My father on the side lines, cheering him on.

Kerry's age 13

Kerry with his sister Lindsay

Kerry holding his son Jackson

And here are some of his words...

By Kerry Ryan Magann

In the novel, each chapter begins with a section taken from one of the many writings tucked inside the trunk that doubles as Kerry's coffee table.  The passage below is one of the last stories entered into Kerry's black notebook.    

It was Tuesday night and I was home alone.  It was too cold outside and too warm inside.  Charlie Parker was playing the saxophone and I was playing with the various forms of hair I could find on my body.  

I had dreadlocked the hair on my toes, a few patches on my legs, and my big pubic mop, and had begun focusing on my nipple hairs.  They stood coiled black, and obscenely proud, strewn across the death pale backdrop of my Irish potato skin.  It was an embarrassing scene.  I felt like reaching for a shirt though nobody was inside my apartment, and I thought about my days of cigarettes, and watching clocks, and T.V. and masturbating to early morning workout shows, and how I ever managed to hold conversations with people, and how sad it all really was.  

And then I lit my nipple hair on fire.  It started on the right side, lighting individually at the ends, watching them flame and fizzle out in an orderly fashion.  I was brushing the ash into my belly button, and everything was going fine until about midway through the left nipple when one hair got rebellious and decided to spread across the remaining forest.  That mother-fucker took a good chunk of my nipple (long pause) which made me fall backwards, hitting my head on the table behind me, which knocked me out and caused a loud sound which made my landlady call the police, who called the paramedics who, upon finding me on the floor, brought me here to this hospital, with doctors and nurses that proceeded to laugh uncontrollably, while calling every psychiatrist in the city down to see me.  

self portrait by Kerry

My Eulogy to Kerry 

February 16, 1979 -  Your Dad and I watched you take your first breath.  One year later we enrolled you in waterbaby's, tossed you into a pool of blue water, and watched you swim.  

At four you recited your alphabet and earned your preschool certificate.  That summer, with your father's gentle push, you learned to ride your bike.  From then on there was no stopping you.  Starting with T-Ball, Tennis and Karate, you even wiggled your way into a first place ribbon at your first and only breakdance contest.   

At Julian Curtis school you set a record by completing 22 pull-ups.  The record stood for over 10 years.  From then on it was a steady stream of sports - swimming, basketball, football, wresting. And then of course there was baseball, baseball, baseball.  

On the sidelines was your biggest fan - your sister Lindsay. She cheered you on every step of the way.  You in return supported her with gentle love and kindness. Through her you learned to nurture, protect, cherish and adore.  

At Central Middle School you began studying the viola and we were thrilled to see your musical side. Years later you confessed that your strings never touched the bow. Your only motivation was to accompany the orchestra on their year end field trip to Great Adventure Amusement Park.

Throughout the years we watched you learn and grow and mostly, we watched you laugh.  And when you laughed it was deep and hardy, from the belly of your soul.

When you found Mary, "your faith," life became sweet.  Jackson's arrival brought an endless flood of joy to you and all those lucky enough to be near.  Again, we watched you nurture, protect, cherish and adore.

What we didn't hear or see was your pain.  Your pain was never spoken, only written and never shared.  You were intuitive and intelligent enough to hide your pain and deliver only what everyone wanted to hear.  You gave people what they needed.  You gave everything, every ounce of your existence.  You gave too much.

For those who say they don't understand, know that depression is a disease.  The conscious experience becomes an endless stream of distressing thoughts and emotions. Sadly, creative people are more vulnerable to depression.

From the Velveteen Rabbit, to James Joyce's cryptic language in Finnegan's Wake, you loved to read.  You were a deep thinker, a writer, a poet. Through writing you were able to escape.  

May 27, 2002, your daily scheduled, e-mail Horoscope read:

Aquarius - be brave, be adventurous, and boldly go where no man has gone before.  Your ideas for heightening the joy quotient in your life should be taken seriously.  You gave at the office. You've been a terrific contributor to other's existence, but now you should shift your focus to that which floats your cork.

Kerry, know that all we see in you is good.

Kerry's first birthday 


  1. So beautiful and touching, thank you for sharing such raw and honest thoughts.

  2. Big hugs. What a beautiful son he was.

  3. May you find comfort in the beautiful memories of your son.

  4. Shannon, this is your loveliest post yet. It's very clear that you share Kerry's gift for writing ... and he brings out the very best in you, no more so than today. His story was painfully funny and your tribute to him is nothing less than perfection. -Jay

  5. Thank you for sharing Kerry with us on his birthday. Your writing touches my heart, as does your beautiful son. Peace and never-ending love to you...Dawn

  6. Shannon, such a beautiful post. Your huge and intense love for your son is so obvious. I can't begin to imagine the pain and sorrow you've had in your heart ever since he's been gone. I haven't even allowed myself to think of living through such a tragic thing. I admire you so much.

  7. I don't have a choice Becky. In the days after he passed, I tried very hard to end my life - I just wanted to be with him. I was devastated, I was in turmoil, I was in pain but I was not capable of ending my life, no matter how hard I wanted. Mental illness is a disease not a choice.

    Thank you everyone for taking the time to read about my beautiful son. It means everything to me... that you know the goodness inside him.

  8. I am so very sad for you. To have lost a son like that must be unbearable.
    Keep strong. Your love for him lives on forever...
    Nat x

  9. this just broke my heart. I am so sorry and sad as well. This was one of the most beautiful tributes I have ever read. What an incredibly handsome young man he are an incredibly strong woman, with love, caren

  10. Oh Monkey,
    Beautiful my dear woman. Your son inherited that great sense of humor of yours. And you my child are on a love mission. This tribute was from the heart and read as such.

    Makes me want to reach through this screen, and just bear hug you.
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

    PS I love the monkey television

  11. This is a beautiful tribute to your son and an honest, real sharing of your grief and love for him. I feel privileged to read it.

  12. This brought tears to my eyes, poignant and bittersweet, your love for your son shines through your words.

  13. Thank you! So bright, so handsome, such an amazing heart. I loved the way he wrote! Kerry never shared his writing. Everything was tucked away in the trunk that doubled as his coffee table. This is where I found him.

  14. I want to say I'm so sorry for your loss but that doesn't fully express how touched I was by this. Your son sounds like a beautiful, creative, loving soul.

    This - 'mental illness is a disease not a choice' is something I wish everyone understood.

  15. Amazing tribute to an amazing young man, Thank you for sharing.

  16. That’s pretty damn heavy.
    I’m glad you posted it.

  17. I had to stop reading as I couldn't see through the tears in my eyes.

    Beautiful and Raw, and amazingly real.

    Deep breaths... ((((hugs))))

  18. A beautiful post. I know you miss that boy of yours. I am sending SOOOOO many hugs to you right now.

  19. Your son would have been just one year older than my daughter had he still been of this world.
    What a wonderful and moving tribute.

  20. Oh Shannon, As I read this, I can only cry. What a wonderful tribute to a talented and handsome young man. I am so sorry he had to go so early in life. I know that I can't even imagine the pain that you must have endured. Bless your heart. You know, I truely believe that the book is written even before we are born. I have searched for answers myself so many times, only to conclude that is not for us to know all. However, I do believe that we all have a purpose in this life, one as important as another, no matter how big or small. The why, the pain, the heartbreak will be questioned, and I do believe will be answered in time. In the meantime, believe in his purpose, be guided by his spirit, and love and cherish our time with eachother while we are here on earth. Love ya girl!

  21. This must be a sad time for you Shannon. I hope writing this wonderful tribute to your son and sharing it with all of us helps. Through you and your writing his memory is preserved with those of us who never had the pleasure of knowing him.

  22. (((((thank you!!!)))))) I'm so touched by your words, by your emotion and by your heart. you came, you read, you commented, but mostly... you connected! monkey love!!!

  23. I really like your blog and by reading this its better. I'm really touched about this and I hope you continue to write!
    What's so Random, my blog.

  24. Beautiful post. You seem like an extraordinary woman!

    Thank you!


  25. Bless you for bringing such a wonderful spirit into the world... and for honoring his time here. Your writing is so remarkably touching.

  26. The photo of your son holding his son with the light shining behind him I find especially touching. I completely know and believe that he came to you after his passing. I've experienced the same thing with loved ones of my own.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and his.

    Really a beautiful piece.


Thank you for encouraging my JOY of writing. By reading and commenting you are feeding my soul, stroking my heart, and in the end...making me a better writer.

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison