Chapter 2: Day 2 (The Facebook Effect)

Chapter 2

Day 2 - The Facebook Effect


The Murphy Family in the summer of 2016 (Ed, Theresa, Grant, Alec, Nick, Laney, Spike and Snoopy)

The Murphy Family in the summer of 2016 (Ed, Theresa, Grant, Alec, Nick, Laney, Spike and Snoopy)

Since we were scheduled to fly into Pensacola that Saturday afternoon for Thanksgiving break with Nick, we had already rented a condo on the beach in Orange Beach, Alabama.

It was to be a glorious and fun-filled week with all of our kids back together. We had vacationed in Gulf Shores, Alabama and the surrounding area as a family for years when the children were younger. For us, when Nick had the opportunity to go to Pensacola, it was like going back home. At least we thought.

By Saturday night, when we left the hospital and checked in at the condo, everyone was exhausted. We had been up since 1:30 a.m. that morning, flown all morning, driven five hours from Atlanta to the hospital, and visited Nick and his Navy buddies. It was not the vacation we had planned, that is for sure. However, when we arrived at the condo, we discovered that Greg Micklos, a friend of the family and one of Nick's prior JFL Director's in Dunlap, had since moved to the Pensacola area and he had made arrangements for all kinds of food and drinks to be delivered to our condo.

It was unbelievable. It was God working through Greg.

It was something we will never forget and something we will never be able to repay to him and those others that also helped him. Thank you Greg and everyone else that never told us you helped for your big heart and kindness.

This is one example of how my eyes have truly been opened by God to the people all around me and the community in which we all live. Greg and Jennifer Micklos and their family were not close family friends, but someone we knew through football. Their son Koby White had also played JFL with Nick and they had a few good years together at Dunlap. We were not so close that we had dinner at their house nor they at ours. That is why we were surprised when on Saturday afternoon out of the blue, when we came out of the hospital room from seeing Nick, Greg was standing there in the hospital waiting room to greet us and offer his condolences. He also found out where we were staying and made arrangements for food and drinks at the condo. He will never know what that meant to us. To see someone we knew from home in our time of need and to have someone handle all of those type of issues that first day was absolutely wonderful. It was totally unexpected and totally a class act by Greg. 

This is also why my eyes have been opened to how much each of us can make a difference, each and every day.

Greg could have heard the news about Nick while being in Florida and chalked it up to bad luck. He could have said to himself, that is too bad, and went about his daily life. He didn't. He left his home, drove a substantial way to Pensacola to the hospital, had to search to even find out where Nick was located, and had to make a huge effort to get this all done. He called friends to help with the food and drinks. He showed up at the hospital. He went to the store. He delivered the food and drinks. He went above and beyond any reasonable expectations. All on a Saturday during Thanksgiving break in 2016. 

I know in part that was because of the impact that Nick had left upon Greg. I know that was also God working through Greg to help us in our time of need. More than anything, it was God showing me the way. The way to help others. The way to open up. The way to be a part of something bigger and more powerful than just myself and my immediate family. That was also the beginning of the thought of the Nicholas J. Murphy Foundation and everything else that we have done since that day to help others, help our community, and make a difference each and every day by "Paying It Forward" in all that we do. If we had not seen Greg and others be so extraordinary that day, maybe we would not have been that way either since then. Thank you Greg, and thank you God for starting that process for me and my family on that fateful weekend.

When we got to the condo that Saturday night and sat down and had dinner, the events of the day started to sink in.

We were all completely exhausted, but still on auto-pilot and in shock. We were moving and talking and eating, but none of it meant anything or made any sense. We were trying to act rational and somewhat normal on a day that was anything but normal. We tried to make lists of all that we had to do just to be doing something. In the end, we simply went to bed because we had been up almost 24 hours and there was nothing good to say.

Around 5:00 a.m. early Sunday morning, I woke up. It was a beautiful sunny Florida day. We had a million dollar view of the Gulf, and the morning sun and sky were breathtaking. As I looked out, I realized that the world was still spinning. It was just spinning with one less wonderful person in it.  As I sat there in the quiet of the morning, I felt the need to share with the world my thoughts and feelings. In looking back, this is where my journey with Facebook began. These next two Posts are the most honest and heartfelt Posts I have ever written and probably will ever write. I lost my son Nick. I couldn't fathom having the world forget him.  I also had so much love in my heart for my wife and children at that moment that I could not possibly keep it in. I wanted the world to know how great Nick was. How great Theresa is. How great Grant, Alec and Laney are. They are my everything and I couldn't stand having the world not know it. I couldn't stand having them not know it. That is the moment that Facebook started helping to save my life and the world around me began to open up. God had a plan for me and it was all starting to take shape in that moment of pure pain.

I wrote these next two posts before anyone else was awake.

Alec, Laney, Nick and Grant

Alec, Laney, Nick and Grant

I sat on the couch looking out at the world and poured out my soul.

These posts were important to me then and they are still just as important today. Here they are:

Facebook Post #2 (Early Sunday Morning)

Thank you everyone for your kind words and prayers to our family. We really appreciate it. I know this is a long post and I obviously don't post much, but I wanted everyone to know Nick and my family like I do as much as possible at this time. It may just be therapeutic for me since I am sitting here in the early morning hours by myself, but I needed everyone to know Nick. He is awesome.

As anyone who knows me knows, there is only one goal I really have in life, and that is to be a great father and husband.

There is nothing else that really matters to me. No matter what else I do in life, these two things are what matters most. I am happy to say that Theresa and I did one thing right in raising Nick and the rest of our four children. They are all truly great children, great young adults, and great people.

Today will be another rough day because it will be the last day we can ever physically see and touch our youngest son, Nick. God has already taken him from us, but his body is still alive and breathing. Today he will be an organ donor and save multiple other lives so their families can live. They makes us feel happy that Nick can still do something great even in his death.

For those that didn't know Nick personally, he was truly a blessing to us.

He is the third of our four children. The youngest son of three boys and then a girl. All Nick ever wanted growing up was to be like his older brothers Grant and Alec and to be the cool older brother to Laney. Nothing brought him more joy than having Laney as his younger sister and giving her advice. They talked or texted daily and had a great relationship. She will miss him deeply.

All he ever wanted to do with Grant and Alec was be as good as them and prove he could hang with them. He strived every day to prove to them as the littlest brother that he was just like them. He wanted to out lift Grant lifting weights and try to beat him in golf, and he wanted to be like Alec and be smart and athletic and prove to Alec that he could play on Alec's baseball teams even though he was two years younger.

As a son, we could not be more proud of Nick.

We loved watching him grow up into the fine young man he is today. He will always hold a special place in our heart and soul. As the youngest son, I am sure we babied him sometimes. He got away with things because he was so damn good looking and looked like Theresa of course with that dark hair and skin. However, as he grew up, I can honestly say he ended up being one of my best friends as a young adult. I was lucky enough to fly down a few times and see him these last few months he was in the Navy and hang out with him. I will always treasure that time. Theresa and I love him dearly and he will be hugely missed in our lives.

To Grant, Alec and Laney,

Hang in there and know that Nick knows how much we all loved him and we all know how much he loved us. We are a close family and our children are all best friends together. That makes us so proud. That was our goal.

To Grant,

Thank you for being the best oldest brother Nick could ever have and best oldest son we could ever have. You make us so proud every day. You are the kindest, most thoughtful person I know with the biggest heart. Keep relying on your faith with God and know that He has a plan for Nick and we got to share in that plan for 19 1/2 years. Take comfort with Maria Puetz, who is the love of your life, and hopefully you two will find the same love and joy in your life together and with any kids you two have that your mother and I have with each other and with you four kids. Now Nick is up in Heaven turning double plays and trying to be a Navy SEAL.

Take comfort in knowing how much Nick idolized you and wanted to be like you. There are very few older brothers who care like you do, wanting your younger siblings to succeed and wanting to watch their games and be such a huge part of their daily lives while at the same time trying to live your live as well. Nick and Alec and Laney are so lucky to have you as their oldest brother and Theresa and I could not ask for anything more. You make us so proud every day. We love you so much and thank you for being you. Keep being you because there is no one better.

To Alec,

Take comfort in knowing how much Nick wanted to be you. He idolized you in everything you did. You were the gold standard for him being the next oldest brother. Grant was four years older and too big or too far ahead to try and beat. You were the older brother two years older that he tried to beat every day. He thought he could and tried every day. I can say without question Nick's junior year of high school playing baseball with you as a senior was the highlight and joy of his life at that point.

He loved every minute playing baseball with you and hanging out with your friends. Every double play you two had and playing on that high school team that year together with you at shortstop and him at second base was magic. He loved every minute of it. He loved being your kid brother in school and hanging out with you and your older friends. You treated him with respect and included him. That was awesome. I know Nick thought you were the smartest, coolest kid around and could not have asked for a better brother than you. Take comfort in knowing that Nick thought the world of you and loved every minute you two were together. Your mother and I feel the same way. Just like Grant, Nick and Laney, you make us so proud every day and we love you more than anything. Hang in there and go be the best you can be. Keep showing Nick how great a person you can be. Be the best you can be and keep making Nick proud. We love you more than anything and could not be more proud of the young man you have also become. Every day you prove to us that we as parents did it right.

To Laney,

We know that this will be the hardest thing you have ever had to go through. Nick loved you so much and loved being your big brother so much it makes me cry just sitting here thinking about that loss for you. Nick found so much joy in being your big brother and giving you advice and being there for you. He loved telling you how it is and what to do, sometimes a little harshly, and loved every second you two spent together. Nick thought the world of you. You made him so proud every day. He loved being able to talk and text you. He loved being able to hang out with you and, especially after Alec went off to college, for you two to hang out together his senior year and this past year before he joined the Navy. There is no question in my mind that you made him so proud to be your older brother and watch you grow up and turn into the fine young lady you have become. He will miss scaring off your new boyfriends down the road.

I am sure he will look down from Heaven and continue to be your Guardian Angel each and every day to make sure he still protects you. He relished that job as big brother and will keep doing it I am sure. Your mother and I also want you to know how awesome you are. We love you so much it hurts. Everything about you makes us so proud. You light up our life every day and we want you to know how much that means to us. As a father, I can truly say there is nothing like a daughter. I know you have me wrapped around your finger, just like your mother, and I wouldn't want it any other way. We love you so much. The relationship you have with your mother as a teenage young woman is so inspiring and makes me so happy. You two make my daily life truly blessed. The relationship I have with you makes me so happy. I love our talks and hanging out. Our relationship and our time together at home with you now that you are the only child still at home each day has been wonderful. I know you love your friend time and phone time too, but we want you to know how much we love you and are proud of you. You are so smart and so beautiful, both inside and out, that we could not be more proud of the young woman you have become.

To all of our friends and family,

I personally want you to know how much you mean to all of us. Every day we have together is a gift. There are no guarantees as we are seeing right now. Take a minute to look at your spouse or children or friends and make sure you tell them how much they mean to you. There may not be that chance tomorrow. To all of you that have passed through my life, thank you. I do not always show it, but I truly do love you and appreciate what you do and have done for me and my family.

Each of us touches so many people in so many ways that we don't even know.

Look at all the social media posts and comments and pictures and everything about Nick. He was so loved by so many. That is a testament to Nick. He lived a lifetime of love in his short 19 1/2 years, but every minute counted. He loved his friends and family. He loved his baseball. He loved his country. These past five years he dedicated himself to joining the Navy and trying to become a SEAL. Let's all find a way to make our world and this great country of ours a better place. I am so proud to be Nick's "Dad". There are no better words to describe me today.

Not to be outdone by the post to the kids, I also wanted Theresa to know how I felt. I am truly blessed and Theresa is the light of my life, each and every day.

Sunday, November 20, 2016 – Facebook Post #3

To my wife Theresa,

I just want to thank you for being the most unbelievable wife and mother anyone could ever ask for. You are everything to me and to our kids. You are the reason that we have four great kids. You are the reason I am who I am. For the past 32 years since the day I met you, my life has been simply great. There are rough days, like today and right now, but together, we and are family will get though them. I know we will have some tough times to get through, but together we will do it. Thank you for being my best friend and the love of my life. You make me a better person.

Thank you for a being a great mother. I know you are an attorney and a hospital administrator and a great volunteer to many charitable organizations, but I am so proud to be your husband and watch you be the mother to our four children. Each one of them is unique and special. Each one of them is a combination of us and hopefully has taken all of our joined good traits and discarded our bad ones. You have always considered yourself a "Mother" first and you have succeeded in that job. Our kids are great and that is a testament to you and all of your hard work.

I know today and the days that follow will be hard. I know there will be a little less gleam in our eyes from here on out without Nick being with us physically, but I want you to remember how great Nick is. He will always be here with us. I love you more than ever.  

That is it.

The beginning of my journey with Facebook. Today, my journey to keep Nick's legacy alive is stronger than ever and Nick lives on. We live on. Our marriage and our children are strong. And on those days when we aren't strong enough to handle it on our own, that is when God finds a way and carries us through.