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Brock Heasley
Author, Illustrator
Raised By a Dead Man: A Coming-of-Age Memoir Between Two Shootings
When Dad was shot the first time in an armed robbery, it was cool. I was twelve, they had the best chocolate milk at the hospital, and I had no doubt whatsoever he would live. When Dad left the hospital a few weeks later, it was a surprise to everyone except me. Dad was a superhero. Superheroes always live to fight another day. A year later, the proto-reality show Rescue 911 asked Dad if he’d like to recreate the shooting and have host William Shatner (Dad’s personal hero, Captain Friggin’ Kirk) say his name on national television. Dad’s response? He demanded to be his own stuntman. When our segment aired later that fall, I was thrown for a loop. I saw the shooting. I saw my father alone, broken and bleeding out on the floor. He may have survived, but he truly had been hurt in a way I could not imagine and had never before considered. Over the next several years, Dad’s health deteriorated slowly from complications from the shooting and our relationship went right along with it. He wasn’t a superhero at all. I wondered what else might not be true and when I told Dad I doubted whether or not God Himself even existed, he suggested I see a therapist. I was horrified, embarrassed, and angry. I don’t know why I expected him to understand. By the time I graduated from High School, I was taller than him. He kept shrinking. I turned away from Dad and found the answers I was looking for in my own way. Then, at age nineteen, I went off to serve a two year religious mission, living a life mostly cut off and far away from family and friends. Ten months later, I received a phone call from Mom that Dad had been shot again. This time, he died. That night, I suffered a confused anguish as I wondered how God could let such a thing happen. The next morning, I resolved to leave the mission to take care of my family and speak at my father’s funeral. Back home, I gained a new perspective on not only my father’s faith and life, but also the place his death had in my own life. From the tragedy came much that was good. I transcended my need for a superhero and found within myself a strength and ambition I had never before known.