“My son died from the coronavirus as I’ve mentioned, but not in the way you think.” That’s how one dad started off a video he shared on YouTube. According to Brad Hunstable, who created the YouTube channel called “Hayden’s Corner,” the video was created just two days after he buried his son.
As Hunstable continued, social isolation from their friends, their school, their teacher, their sports, should never be compared to summer because it’s nothing like summer. “There’s social and emotional challenges beyond comprehension,” that comes with quarantining away from the rest of the outside world.
“My belief is that we have a bubble, a social and emotional bubble that is about to burst. It’s been coming for a while. I think Hayden was an incredible kid. He wasn’t depressed. He wasn’t someone who moped around. Like any teenager, he was hard on himself at times. Probably a lot like me, a pretty competitive guy. And like anybody had is own insecurities here and there.”
And then the grieving father started from the beginning. Hayden was a gamer and when it came to the popular game known as Fortnite, he excelled at it. For Christmas, he asked for a new gaming monitor and when he received it, he was so excited.
However, in February, after getting angry during a game, he chucked his controller over his shoulder, it hit his monitor and broke it. As Huntsable admitted, it’s something he would have done when he was younger. The father explained how he turned that moment into a teachable one.
“We told him, ‘Son, you know, you can’t do that. I don’t care about the monitor, but I care about how you react.'” In an attempt to help his son learn his actions have consequences, he didn’t buy his son another monitor.
But after begging for a second chance, Hunstable told his son that if he shows he learned from that particular moment—by doing more chores and being nicer to his sister—then they would talk about getting him a new monitor. “And he held up his end of the bargain.”
“I could just see a wonderful change. How he treated his sister, which brothers sisters always fight, nothing unusual about that. But he was learning, he was evolving, he was growing, he was becoming a man.” Hayden was given a new monitor.
Then on April 17, Hunstable and his son were having a wonderful day. They were scheduled to get haircuts at his office but then the water in their well went out. Hunstable needed help fixing it so he called his dad to come over to help. “It was a beautiful sunny day.” In fact, it was the first time he had seen his dad since COVID-19 hit.
“We had a glorious time. Me, Hayden, him fixing it. Dad even gave him a little mission that he had to wash something on the well. He was real proud of that. I heard Hayden come into the kitchen, I gave him the biggest hug and I kissed him on the hair. I hugged him tight for some reason.”
“I didn’t know that would be the last time I hugged him. My dad did the same.”
After that, Hayden went up to his room. Hunstable’s dad left, he took a phone call, his daughter went to go pick up a friend as they started to see social distancing as counterproductive, and all seemed well. It was just him, Hayden, and Hayden’s little sister who were home.
Hunstable said his call lasted between 25 and 30 minutes. After his call, he went outside only to have his 8-year-old little girl come get him to tell him Hayden had hung himself.
“I ran upstairs. I tried. I hope nobody ever feels or seen what I saw and feel this pain. And as we found out, we were in shock the first couple of days. Just [wondering], where did this come from? How’d this happen?”
Days later is when Hunstable learned Hayden had broken his monitor again. “In just a rash of emotion and probably anger at himself, and maybe scared to get in trouble, embarrassed, and all these emotions. He went into his closet and rudimentary did something that I know he regrets.”
Hayden’s death came just three days before his 13th birthday.
The soon-to-be teenager was expecting to get a new controller that, paired with his monitor, would take his gaming skills to an even high level. Hunstable thinks his son thought he had ruined his birthday, on top of not being able to have a party due to social isolation.
“Social isolation is hard enough for adults, it’s even more hard for our kids. As I’ve been saying, COVID killed my son. I believe it. I believe my son would be alive today if he was in school. And that’s not to discount massive suffering around the world around this virus.”
Now Hunstable is dedicated to making things better for other children. “I’ll be damned if I don’t make this a little bit better.” Hunstable is ready for change because his son’s legacy won’t be the last mistake he ever made.
Sara Vallone has been a writer and editor for the last four and a half years. A graduate of Ohio University, she enjoys celebrity news, sports, and articles that enhance people’s lives.
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