Shon Myers had so much to live for.

Shon Myers Photo courtesy of his family

He was a commercial fisherman and lobsterman who had a passion for being on the water. He was an artist, musician, writer and photographer. He had an appreciation for knitting.

Myers had been sober for nearly a year. He was loved by his family, his girlfriend, and a tight-knit community in Portland’s recovery scene.

Myers, who had such passion for life, died April 13 of an apparent drug overdose. He was 43.

“He was 6-foot 6 and had a smile that would melt your heart,” said his mother, Gayle Myers of Cape Elizabeth. “It was genuine … right from his soul. He had a really good soul, but he was a very tortured person.”

Myers grew up in Cape Elizabeth, the oldest of three children. Tragedy struck the family in 1989. Myers and his younger brother, Jamie, then 13 and 10, went exploring at Richmond Island and were caught by the incoming tide. Jamie Myers drowned and died in his brother’s arms.

“Shon blamed himself,” his mother said. “He felt responsible for his death. That was his nightmare.”

Myers was haunted by his brother’s death. He resisted therapy. He turned to alcohol and drugs to cope.

A 1994 graduate of Cheverus High School, Myers was a no-show at his commencement ceremony. His mother said he got drunk and she brought him to a rehab facility. She remembered the first rehab he went to on the island of Antigua.

“I figured if he could have 28 days clean, he would come back to me,” she said. “He immediately started using when he went back to the states.”

Myers was a skilled lobsterman and commercial fisherman who worked on boats in Maine and elsewhere. He fished in Gloucester and New Bedford, Massachusetts; Point Judith, Rhode Island; Charleston, South Carolina; and Cape Canaveral and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. His mother said he found peace on the ocean.

“Shon took the helm of our sailboat when he was in diapers and it was clear he was attached to the ocean from there on,” she said. “He was very revered on the waterfront by most lobstermen. He was almost like a dowser as a lobsterman. He knew exactly where to put the traps.”

Myers was also remembered Thursday as a gifted artist. He used lobster claws to make carvings of mermaids and seahorses. He made jewelry from shark teeth. In the past year, he took up knitting.

His girlfriend, Claire Hanley of Saco, said Thursday he was one of the most gentle, loving souls she had ever met.

“Shon was a force,” Hanley wrote in an email. “He was always honest with me from the first date on. He was honest with everyone. … He would do anything for the people he cared about. We loved each other. I remember one time he said to me that ‘he wished we reconnected earlier so he could love me longer.’ I nearly crumbled. I still crumble. …”

Hanley reflected on the friendship Myers had with her 3-year-old son Charlie. She said he would bring him gifts from the sea.

“He loved my son and Charlie loved him,” she said. “Shon was an amazing friend to him. They would lie on the couch together and watch movies. Shon could build the most epic train tracks – which basically makes you a celebrity in my house.”

Myers had been sober for almost a year and was a beloved member of Portland recovery community. His mother said he attended 12-step meetings every day until the pandemic forced meetings to go online.

“He was doing everything right, but then this virus hit,” his mother said. “Everything shut down and all of his support systems are gone.”

Myers left Hanley on Saturday to go check on his mom and grab some things from his apartment in Portland. He was supposed to spend the night in Saco, but never showed. Two days later, he was found dead in his apartment of a suspected overdose.

“He was with me and so healthy and happy and suddenly in a blink of an eye – one knee jerk decision – he was not alive anymore,” Hanley said. “Shon relied on his recovery community. He went to meetings every day before social distancing. When meetings got canceled I remember the look on his face. It was a look of concern … maybe fear? Not just for himself but for his friends. He knew social isolation is the last thing an addict of any kind should be doing.”

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