Kevin “Jay” Heard
On December 4, 2016, I lost my oldest son Kevin “Jay” Heard to what they are calling an accidental multidrug toxicity death.
I had the chance to talk with him the day before - Jay was away on a new welding job and was working very long hours. He mentioned that he was not feeling well and thought that he had food poisoning from the night before. Other than that, our conversation was pretty normal, except that it was the last time I would ever hear his voice, or hear him say, “I love you, Mom.”
We lost a son, grandson, nephew, brother, boyfriend, and father figure to a 21 month old who stole his heart. Jay was also a friend to many, which was made obvious by the number of people who came to his Celebration of Life - friends from school, baseball, fishing and work - all attended.
Jay was a man who lived his life to the fullest. He had a passion for baseball; it was his day-to-day life in high school. His other passion was fishing. He made many friends through fishing, and attended tournaments that he won both individually and with his father. I believe that Jay was closest to his father when they were out on the water together.
Music was also a great love of Jay’s. I was able to take him to his first concert when he was 12 years old. After that, he was hooked. A few years ago, Jay took his brothers and I to a concert in Jacksonville, Florida. It was one of the first times in a long time that I had all my sons - Jay, his brothers Ryan and Michael - all together. It is one of my fondest memories and I will cherish it forever.
When you think of Jay, you will also think of NASCAR and Dale Earnhardt. He was able to go to several races with his friends, girlfriends, his Uncle Jimmy and his group of great mentors. Jay always said that his favorite memory was when he was able to take laps around Daytona in a real race car.
The last time I saw Jay, he had been doing crossfit and was in great shape. He looked good, and I was so proud. He called me every week because I was in Alabama and he was in Florida.
Jay was always busy doing something and enjoying his life. Jay was also in a new relationship that was going well. Although I had not met her yet, his girlfriend sounded wonderful. She was the first person he dated who had a child. Jay had never been able to see himself with children, but somehow this little girl stole his heart and had him wrapped around her finger.
I wish I could pinpoint when Jay started using drugs, but I only know the sad ending. He was the typical country boy: big trucks and bigger dreams. Being passionate about so many things allowed Jay to hide his drug use well. I had no clue, and neither did most of our family.
Jay was found dead in his hotel room on December 4, 2016, by the maid. He was alone, in between two beds, with signs of rigor mortis setting in. In my heart, I believe that he passed away the day before, sometime in the afternoon. Our family was notified one by one. It was Jay’s little sister who had to break the news to me, and I hate that she had to do that. Telling his younger brother, who was 16 at the time, was horrible.
As parents, you are not supposed to bury one of your children. They are not supposed to go before you. I am part of an exclusive club that I would not wish on my worst enemy.
We are all still questioning ourselves, wondering how we did not see the signs. If we had known that Jay had a problem, we could have tried to help him. But, he had a side that he did not show to his family or his girlfriend. Jay covered up his addiction so well that no one could detect it. When I spoke to his girlfriend, we were heartbroken.
I do believe that Jay’s death was an accident. I believe that he thought he could handle anything. Seeing the list of drugs in his autopsy was an eye-opener. I now know why they say to never google symptoms.
The years that Jay did have were jam-packed, and full of excitement, family, good friends, baseball, music, NASCAR, and never enough fishing. He loved big and lived an exciting life. Jay was my first born, and he had so many people who loved him so much and would have done anything to help him if we had known.
Jay was not perfect, far from it, but he was a good man. And if sharing these true life stories help even one person, then I know he would have been proud of me for sharing. Tell your children that you love them at every chance you get, because you never know when it could be your last.