What does it take to raise a child?

We have waited to write this letter until we heard from the State Medical Examiner and knew the cause of Devin’s death. There have been numerous rumors floating around which is unfair, but human in nature. 

Devin died of “ Cardiac Dysrhythmia of unclear etiology.” The toxicology report only showed signs of the presence of caffeine.

In the weeks since Devin’s death, we have spent countless hours reflecting on his short life. A large percentage of those hours have been spent thinking about the incredible number of local people who have played a part in raising our son. They “invested” time and energy into providing him with the necessary tools to smooth his own path; educators, health and safety professionals, neighbors and family friends.  

For 13 years most of us entrust educators with the responsibility of teaching our kids while providing a safe learning environment. Think about it — 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, 4 weeks a month, and 9 months of each of those 13 years. 

Devin started his “formal” education at Kim’s daycare. It was the perfect place for him to start. She provided unconditional love, patience, and understanding for a small group. Kindness was the curriculum and he learned it well. Devin loved Kim D. 

 He attended Raspberry Lane next. It was a larger group and a great place for him to really begin the socialization process. Devin was a little timid but was always gently encouraged to participate. He joined in when he felt comfortable. 

At Paul Banks, Gerri, Mo and Wendy all went above and beyond to keep him on task, learning to read, write, and do some math. Wendy, 2nd grade was a really good year for Devin. Thanks.

Devin attended Fireweed Academy for third to sixth grades. Kiki, Chris, Stephanie, Kim, Janet and especially Carla were all heavily invested in our son. Thanks so much.  

Devin’s middle school experience was when it became clear to us that we would be on a first name basis with school administrators and that it was going to be a struggle for Devin to get a high school diploma. There were encouraging moments when he would come home and want to share with us what he’d learned that day in Ms. Blanding’s science class, or he’d say “I get it now” after Mr. Calhoun had spent some extra time with him explaining a certain math problem.

 He came home one day after being disciplined and said, “Mr. Daugherty understands me. He’s always fair.” Tim, Devin always appreciated it when you’d give him a task in the mornings before classes started. Thanks.

High school continued to be challenging with numerous meetings with administrators and teachers, trying to figure out a strategy to motivate Devin. Progress was made and for reasons that escape us Devin decided he wanted a high school diploma. With the help and patience of Ms. Beddingfield he was working on credit recovery and passing his other classes. He was planning on getting his diploma through Connections in the 2015-2016 school year. 

Devin’s teachers were a very special group. He was a challenging student, to say the least, and we don’t believe any of them ever gave up. They kept on investing and we really appreciate that. Thanks.

We want to thank our local police force for helping us all to keep our kids safe and healthy. The day of the small town cop, calling a parent up and warning them that their child is exhibiting risky behavior, is alive and well in Homer. They are also out there helping us parents teach our kids the importance of the behavior/ consequences relationship. Thanks to all of you, especially Larry and Dave, for being fair and understanding and investing in Devin. 

Our local health care providers, be it physical or mental, play a daily role in all of our lives. Many of them invest in their patients by going beyond what is expected and getting involved. Kim, thanks so much for  suggesting a daily regimen of Vitamin D for Devin. We are convinced that it was instrumental in improving his attitude and behavior. 

And Jennifer, Devin really appreciated having you there as a neutral, non-judgmental listener and confidant. He considered you a friend and said he knew you cared. You invested. Thank you so much.

Our immediate neighbors played an integral role in raising Devin. People like Bob and Roberta, Mike and Kathy, and Tom and Devony. Whether the interaction was positive or negative it was clear to us that you were investing in our son. From providing an opportunity to do some work to make a little money, to being firm and fair for unacceptable behavior, or giving Devin the opportunity to interact with the horses, it all contributed to who Devin was. 

Family friends like Rich and Megan were invested. After a day of volunteering for the Epic 100 and riding snowmachines with Rich all day he came home and told us: “It was the funnest day of my life!” (Our son the wordsmith.) 

Jocelyn, we are so thankful to you for investing in Devin. Your passion for your art is contagious for kids and you were able to nudge him right out of his shell. The love, patience and understanding you have shown out Homer kids has been a beautiful thing to watch and you will be dearly missed.

The people we have mentioned are just a small percentage of those that “invested” and helped raise Devin but we need to stop here.

 We have gone on too long.

 What does it take? It takes a village to raise a child. A sentiment acknowledged in the proverbs of numerous cultures for centuries. Thanks to all of you.

Ahna Iredale and Tod Sharp write that they are the proud parents of Devin Iredale-Sharp. Devin died April 17, 2015, at the age of 18.