Lawrence McNair had a talk with God.
You must have the wrong guy, because this was not the guy you were looking for, McNair said during the conversation.
His son, Isaac McNair, 26, died on May 28 when he drowned near Pine Key Island, formerly known as Beer Can Island. According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to a call about the drowning just before 5 p.m. that day. The sheriff’s office’s marine and aviation units and the U.S. Coast Guard responded to the scene. Officials did not find Isaac McNair until the next morning.
While talking to God for a bit longer, the conversation began to shift, Lawrence McNair said in a phone interview with the Tampa Bay Times.
“I just started to thank God for choosing me as his dad for 26 years,” Lawrence McNair said.
In the days since his death, Isaac McNair’s family has celebrated the 26-year-old’s life. In their grief, they are relishing the moments they spent with him.
“He didn’t live a full life, but he lived his life to the fullest,” Lawrence McNair said. “And that just matters so much to me, and it just makes me so happy in this unhappy moment.”
While Isaac McNair’s family leans gregarious, he was more introverted, his older sister, Bianca McNair, said.
“He was a big observer of things, which worked out great because with our family, my dad and I, we talk a lot and make a lot of jokes,” Bianca McNair said. “He was more comfortable just waiting back, watching and laughing along.”
He graduated from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. After, he moved to Tampa and got a job working for a tech company.
While in Tampa, Isaac McNair flourished. He found friends, took time to fulfill his passion of traveling and adored his 4-year-old niece, Kayle, his family said.
Isaac McNair’s friends even called him the “iceman” because he was so smooth.
On May, 28, Isaac McNair and his friends had been hanging out in a shallow area of Pine Key Island when their boat began to float away, his sister said. They went after the boat, but there was a drop-off. Isaac McNair and his friend were swept away by the current, Bianca McNair said.
Isaac McNair didn’t know how to swim, his sister said.
Someone was able to rescue Isaac McNair’s friend, but they were unable to rescue him, Bianca McNair said.
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Bianca McNair is focusing on the best memories she has with her brother and celebrating them, she said. She described her brother as comforting, but vibrant. And his niece loved him, she said.
“If Isaac came to visit ... honestly, it’s like me and her father weren’t even around,” Bianca McNair said. “If Uncle Isaac was here, she wanted to talk to him and be by him.”
She has loved getting to hear from friends and old classmates of Isaac McNair’s who have reached out.
“It’s nice seeing that people got to see almost every side of him that I did growing up,” Bianca McNair said. “I like that.”
When Isaac McNair was out on Pine Key Island, he was out there doing what he liked to do, Lawrence McNair said. He was being adventurous and having fun with his friends.
“He was enjoying himself, he was having a good time,” Lawrence McNair said. “I saw him out on the boat doing push ups, being the iceman, being himself. That made me smile in the midst of the storm.”
Lawrence McNair said he’s grieving more for his son than he is for himself. He was still young, with so many more dreams and places to travel, his father said.
“I grieve for myself a little bit, I grieve for him a lot,” Lawrence McNair said. “And the third part of my grief is just grieving for anybody who didn’t get to meet him in person and feel the warmth of his love and smile.”