“It breaks my heart that he didn’t feel like he could call me.”
Shyinne Anastacio will never forget the text she received from the father of her child on March 25, 2018.
“He said, ‘I love you guys.’ He said, ‘Give squish a kiss for me and tell her that sometimes the right thing isn’t always the easiest,’ and he goes, ‘Take care, eh,’ and that was it.”
It was the last message Travis Pearce would ever send Anastacio.
Life had become too much for the 26-year-old and it meant two and a half year-old Elenna would be growing up without a father.
Anastacio’s life with Pearce had started out with promise in the summer of 2014. The pair, who knew each other from high school, met again through mutual friends and quickly fell in love.
“He was just such a charismatic guy, super charming and always smiling,” Anastasio said.
Pearce had a good job with the City of Richmond and owned an investment property in Edmonton. They moved in together and slowly, Pearce began to share his struggles with her.
He’d battled anxiety and depression since high school – where he suffered concussions playing rugby and eventually had to give up the sport he loved.
Anastacio soon became pregnant and because the couple hadn’t planned for a child, she gave Pearce the choice to walk away. Instead she said Pearce embraced the prospect of fatherhood.
“He looked at me he goes, ‘I wasn’t raised like that Shyinne. I’m gonna be here for you’. And he tried, he really tried,” she said.
Elenna was born in July 2015. Three months later, Pearce’s mental health took a nosedive.
He lost his job and his behaviour became so erratic that Anastacio wondered if he was using drugs. Things got so bad, she had to ask Pearce to leave the home they shared.
“That’s when he called me and said, ‘Shyinne, I’m in rehab and I have had issues with cocaine and that’s why I’ve been like this,” recalled Anastacio.
For the next two years, Pearce was in and out of treatment. When clean, he was a great father to Elenna.
“It just became this cycle where he would do really well and then he would crash and I would push him away,” said Anastacio.
By the middle of 2017, Anastacio knew she could not allow Pearce back into her life. As hard drugs took over, his descent into addiction involved dodging death with fentanyl.
He became so sick, Anastacio said, that she was forced to get a court order to keep him away from their young daughter.
“It was the hardest thing I could ever do,” said Anastacio. “Travis really just lived for his family and he really just wanted that and I had to take that away.”
In the months that followed, Pearce became homeless and slept on the streets but was never able to face the reality of his dire situation.
“He was the best at looking like he had everything all together, you know, a man’s man,” Anastacio said.
Ultimately, Pearce decided he couldn’t win the battle that had become his life.
He passed away in March.
Anastacio is sharing his story in the hopes she can encourage others like him to open up about their demons — before it’s too late.
“Don’t keep it in…it’s not weak to be sad,” she said.
“It’s not weak to be hurting. It’s strong, actually, if you’re able to talk about it and want to change…we can’t do it alone.”