A Father’s Grief

Carson’s Village had the honor of helping a special family this July. You may have heard the tragic story of road rage in Houston that ended with the shooting death of 17-year-old David Castro. The family, a long-time friend of founder Jason Dyke, reached out to Carson’s Village for support. David’s father, Paul Castro, wrote these touching and raw observations about his devastating experience. We know you will join us in feeling Paul’s intense pain, as well as his drive to make the world better for others.

We hope after reading this story that you will do a random act of kindness in David’s honor (#RAKDAVID).  

The day a parent loses a child is carved into their memory. There is a second of time on that horrible day after which the world is over for a parent. It’s the second the EMT stops administering CPR and turns to you and says, “I’m sorry, but she’s gone.” Or it may be when the doctor enters the room and says there is nothing more they can do. In my case, it was when I ran my hand over my precious son’s head and realized that David had a gunshot wound in the back of his skull.

Seconds before that moment, I was driving madly to escape a man who was chasing us. I heard two gunshots from behind my truck and heard glass explode. He had shot into the cab of my truck at head level as I was U-turning to escape him. My two sons were riding with me, returning from an Astros game. I thought he missed us. He didn’t. He hit my amazing seventeen-year old son, David. Mercifully, David didn’t cry out. He simply slumped over as I continued to speed to escape the shooter as he continued the chase.

That unimaginable second when I felt by hand the damage the bullet had done to David’s head, I knew everything I understood about the world was over. Everything.

Later there was an ambulance meeting us and taking him away. Then a hospital. The ER surgeon telling us he already asked for a second opinion but would get a third. A well-intentioned priest joining us at David’s life-supported body that deadly morning, telling us that God has a plan.

That “plan” had not been shared with me and I’m not okay with it.

That horrible second of memory, whatever it is, sticks in the minds of parents who have suddenly and tragically lost a child. We replay it over and over, looking for something to fix in the film. We think that with effort, we can rewrite the script and go back to the normalcy that existed before that second. That magical thinking lives side-by-side with the horrific images from that indelible second.  The images are trapped in celluloid behind the retina, able to play without prompting throughout the waking and sleeping day.

As a man of almost-fifty, I’ve been preparing for the sad day when I will lose my parents. Though the pain will be severe, I began to prepare for that inevitable day from the time I realized everybody dies. It fits the prescribed order of things–like a number line. First grandparents, then parents, then me. My children will bury me. For me, that ordered plan was flipped, without warning.

In the midst of all of that horror, sadness, and unimaginable grief, a parent is lost. We were told to find a funeral home and begin the business of death. There are no words to describe the crushing weight of the new reality on the other side of that indelible second.

I am still new to this wrong world. The one without my beautiful son. I cannot make sense of its landscape. Thankfully I have friends who helped our family throughout this gruesome month. Who’ve made calls. Picked up belongings. Made food. Visited the funeral home with me.

Without them I would be shamed as well as destroyed. I would not have known where to start, what to do, who to call. The need to be both business manager for the family and head griever is too much in this unimaginable new world. I am thankful for the expertise and work that Carson’s Village shared with my team so that I could tend to the family in our shock and horror, while they tended to the business of death.

It’s been four weeks since that second and I’m not okay. I don’t know if I will ever be fully okay again. The world is not as it should be. I will learn to live with it and carry my son with me in spirit. I will learn to live on this side of that second.

3 Responses
  1. Connie D Hall

    My heart breaks for you. I lost a son to suicide 3 years ago and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him, listen for his voice, listen for his laugh. My faith in Jesus Christ has been the only thing that gets me through these times. I pray that you will find comfort and peace. There are good days, there are bad days but I know one day I will again see my son. Prayers offered for all. ^j^

  2. Ilene Benzman

    Paul —
    You and your family have suffered the unimaginable. My heart breaks for each of you. I wish you peace — mind, body, and soul — in your forever.

  3. Shane Thompson

    I so understand. My son was 16. My life is divided by that day.: Before or after the day when everything changed.. you will be in my prayers and thoughts. I will cry with you.

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