Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Category: Boca Raton

Let The Battle Begin

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Matt,

The day has finally arrived.   The day I’ve been dreading and wanting to put behind me all mixed into a crazy bag of emotions.   My mind is spinning knowing that I will be facing the men who are defending those who feel dumping addicts while under the influence of drugs who have no sense of the imminent danger of losing their lives is an acceptable practice.   My emotions are on high alert.   Fight or flight, hot then shaking, anger then tears anticipating what is to come.   I feel like I’m being sent before the firing squad for a crime I did not commit while the criminal pulls the trigger.

I remember hearing the words he is here.   I felt the bile rise in my throat.   I had to stop the urge to run away and vomit.   How dare the man who dropped you off in a hotel when you needed help feel the need to sit in a room with your grieving mother.

Walking into the conference room, I felt as if I walked into a vacuum.    I could here those words over and over again,  “It’s Matt”.   “He’s dead”.    My mind started to scream as the pig smiled my way!   I kept telling myself to breathe,  just breathe.    I couldn’t let them know that what I really wanted to do was squeeze the life out of this smiling arrogant man.   I wanted to repeat the words he said to me when he finally found the time to call me days after he knew you were dead.    “People die here everyday”.    Yes, those were the words that came from the mouth of the man I trusted to keep you safe.   The man who cashed my checks and pretended to give a damn about your recovery.    I wanted to watch the color drain from his hideous face as I repeated those ugly words as I stared into his eyes knowing that my grieving face would be the last thing he would ever remember.

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My fantasy of revenge was short lived as question after question came flying my way.   Some so absurd I wondered what these lawyers were trying to prove.   Ridiculous questions that had nothing to do with the fact that he woke you from a sound sleep and made the decision to dump you knowing you had used and were in a compromised state.   He told your roommate  to watch you.   Really, a man who professed to be an expert in the field of treating addicts dumped you off with a kid and told him to watch you!   Well, he did.   He watched as you died.

As I sat there answering those incredibly painful questions I thought of you.   The last conversation we had. The I love you Matt and I love you Mom spun around in my head.   I tried to remember what your voice sounded like.   I tried to find strength in knowing that you knew you were loved.   Then a flash back to the last time I saw you.   My heart broke silently as I remembered you lying so still on a gurney.   Your face blue.   Forever frozen in time.   Forever 37.   I remember holding onto to you, placing my head on your chest listening and praying that I would hear your beating heart.   I closed my eyes and prayed that this was a nightmare and I would soon wake up.

That familiar gut punch found it’s way to where I sat.   Once again I was being swallowed into my dark abyss.   I wanted to disappear.   My tears began to fall.   I looked across the table through blurry eyes and wondered how these men would feel if you were their son?   Would they be questioning why I am suing this man or would they be outraged that he neglected to get their son to a safe place?   It’s so easy to judge when your life has not been shattered into pieces that no longer fit together.   It’s easy to sit back and place blame on those who paid the ultimate price for a decision that was not their own.

Hours later we are done.   I gathered my strength and look directly into his eyes.   I tell him that I will forever blame him for your death.   I will forever live knowing that he is a fraud, a liar.   His decision that fateful night forever changed our lives.   I was never given the chance to hear your voice or tell you I will be there with the first available flight.   His decision tore the fabric of our family.  You are gone and I am broken.   Oh how I wanted to say so much more.   Words are useless to a man who has no conscious or ethics.   I decided not to waste my breath.

I found myself on the beach in Boca.   The beach you loved.  I walked to the spot you stood.   Your handsome, smiling face, your beautiful eyes captured in a picture days before you left.   Your image forever burned into my brain.   I closed my eyes and saw you running in the surf.   My tow headed beautiful boy jumping and laughing.   Reaching your hand toward mine.   The wind blew my hair like a gentle kiss from your lips.   For a brief second you were there and my heart felt complete.   I walked on the sand you walked.   I breathed the air you breathed.   I prayed for your peace and for strength to continue my fight for you.

As my plane climbed higher into the clouds taking me away from where you last walked the earth, I felt a piece of myself stay behind.   Almost as if I was standing by your side on your beach watching as the plane grew smaller and smaller until all that could be seen was a trace of smoke.   A piece of my soul sits and waits for you to come again.   To once again walk side by side hearing the crash of the waves whisper, I love you Matt.   I love you Mom.

Justice For My Beautiful Boy

Matt, it’s been 32 months and 27 days since you left my life.  Today I’m sitting on a plane heading into my nightmare.  My grief hitched a ride on my chest weighing me down knowing that my trip has nothing to do with joy.  This trip is to defend your life.  To sit in a room with men who believe it was fine to dump you at a hotel in a compromised state letting you die alone.

My soul is shaking as we fly closer to the reality that you won’t be picking me up as I land.   There will be no happy reunion between you and me.   No seeing your handsome face or hearing your voice.   No bear hugs while I sink into your arms feeling the warmth of your love wrap itself around my heart.

I am landing in enemy territory.   I am trying to keep my warrior mask intact but as we get closer I can feel the cracks forming as my fear of facing how you died smacks me like a brutal whip.   Grief and guilt have settled into my soul once again.   The what ifs and I should haves are dancing in my battered brain. Taunting me with what should have been and what truly is our reality.

I stare out the window into the clouds looking for you.   Looking for Jesus.   Searching for a sign on how I will survive this part of our journey.   I dreamed of returning to Florida.   I dreamed of visiting your new life.  Seeing you in recovery living life to the fullest.   I dreamed of walking on the beach side by side as we have so many times in the past.   I dreamed of what your future would hold as a husband and then a father.

These dreams now something that will never see reality.  Scattered like the ashes after a fatal fire in a fast moving wind.   I chase after the torn fragments of our life and hold them close to my heart.

Those dreams of what should have been will fuel my fight for justice.   I am here breathing where you took your last breath.   I am here letting my grief wash over me.  I am here gathering the strength to stand up to those who wronged us both.   I am here to defend my precious son.   I am here to tell the world your life was worth saving.   I’m here to let the world know I will never be silenced 💔💔💔IMG_1277

Lost in Paradise

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Matt.

We made it to the house we’ve rented in The Keys.   I listen to the excited voices of Ray and our friends.   I feel nothing except lost.  It’s been one month and eleven days since you left.   My life has become a before and after movie.   I replay the scenes over and over in my mind.  Searching for that missing piece.  Still not able to believe you are gone.  Life before you died was full of hope.  Full of promises and joy.  Dreams of your future, a wedding and grandchildren washed away with the outgoing tide.  Life now is unbearable.   This pain is constant, crushing my shattered heart.

The house is beautiful.  The perfect location.  I find myself going through the motions of living.  I find my mask and secure it to my face.  Trying desperately to hide my grief.  I listen to Ray and our friends.  Smiles and plans of sunshine filled days.   Kayaking and biking.  Everything I once loved to do in this beautiful place brings no joy.  I am numb.  The walking dead.

Sleep continues to elude me.  I toss and turn listening to the sounds of the sea.  I lay in the dark silently crying.  I wonder where you are.  I wonder if you know that you’re gone.  I wonder how I will every survive the rest of my life.

Days are spent pretending I’m ok.   I find myself drawn to the back of the house.  The turquoise sea surrounds me.  The sun kisses my cold skin with warmth.  Nothing can penetrate the ice surrounding my soul.  I stare out at the beautiful water and remember your smiling face.  I look for signs of your presence.  I think of this trip.  The planning.  The joy.  The excitement I would feel at seeing you again.  I close my eyes and see us walking together by the sea as we’ve done so many times before.   I feel like I’m trapped in a nightmare.  This did not happen.  You could not be gone.  My mind has become an enemy.   Never quiet.  Always replaying the scenes from our journey.  Forcing me to relive every moment.  Every decision, every fight.  I constantly rethink every little thing.  Hindsight continues to slap my face.   I beg for a redo.  I beg to wake up.  I beg for this to be a horrible mistake.

I sit in the warmth of the sun thinking of how things should be.  You should be spending the day at the beach enjoying your new life and I should be the happiest mom on earth.  You told me how blessed you were to be living by the sea.  I felt that blessing spread to me thinking you found your peace and I could finally take a breath.   Try to pray.   There is nothing left to pray for.   My years of prayers went unanswered.   I feel abandoned by God.

I’m surrounded by beauty but all I can think of is you.  I stare out at the sea and remember the words.   Those words that pierced my soul spoken by the man I trusted to keep you safe.  “People die here everyday”.   Those words run through my head like hot lava spitting from a volcano.   Smoldering and destroying everything in its way.   Were you not a human being?   A wonderful man with a horrible disease.   A loving son and brother or were you just a meal ticket for this man who tossed you away?  The more I remember those words, his I could care less attitude, his I’m too busy to talk about Matt when he finally returned my call, the more I want to scream.

I feel my grief changing.   I feel the hopelessness starting to fade.   An ember has started and a raging fire has erupted in my soul.   Who the hell does J think he is?   How can the state of Florida think that running sober living homes like he obviously does is acceptable?   What happened to you will never be right with me.  Florida, you pissed off the wrong mom.

My first call is to the Florida Office of the Attorney General.   I filed my complaint on the website but that is not enough for me.   I want to talk to this woman.   I want her to know what is going on in her state.  I want her to know that parasites are making a living off addicts.   I want her to know that your mother is outraged and won’t  accept your death quietly.

My next call is to The Department of Health and Human Services.   Next the Governor’s Office.   Your story is being told.   Tears and sobs escape with each phone call.   They are listening.   I feel a strength come over my being.   Like you are here rooting me on.   I owe this to you.   I let you down.  I live with regret everyday.  I had no idea you were flying into a death trap when I bought your ticket to Florida.  Now you are gone and I’m left behind.   The lone wingman.   The one Musketeer.   You and I had a bond like none other.   A bond that even your death cannot sever.   Memories of you flood my mind and break my heart.  Your laugh, your smile forever tucked safely away in my heart.

My ringing phone brings me back to reality.   Your story found it’s way to FARR.   Florida Association of Recovery Residences.   They have begun the battle against the J’s.   Those who prey on the people coming  to Florida for help.    We plan to keep in touch.

Our time here is over and I’m torn.   I want to go home and I want to stay.   A piece of my heart will remain in Florida.   Because of you I have a permanent bond with this state.  There is so much left for me to do.   I feel your spirit.  Your energy by the sea.  I close my eyes and see you standing on the beach you loved.   One of your last pictures before you died.   Joy radiating from your face.   Happiness finally found you only to be brutally ripped away.   You deserved so much more.

Its cold and grey when we land in Philly.   The weather mimics my soul.   We pull into the garage.   The house is silent.   There are no wet noses or wagging tales.   No “Hey Mom, Welcome Home”.   Just a dead silence that takes my breath away.   I drop my bags on the floor.   The memories of another homecoming flood my brain.   You were there.  The dogs on your heels.  Hugs and kisses.  Barking and wagging.  You were so proud of how you cleaned the house.  I remember your beaming smile, “Mom, everything’s done”.   “No dishes or dog hair”.   I remember your laugh.  “Bet your surprised”.

The cold slap of reality brings me back.  I am home and you are gone.

 

 

 

Navigating My Way Through The Turbulence Of Reality

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Matt.   The day is finally here.   The day I looked forward to for months.  The day I’d be able to hug you again.  To visit your new life.  To see your handsome face and see that famous grin.  I counted down the days for months.  The tickets were bought before you left me behind.  This trip we planned and I looked so forward to now filled with agony and despair.

Counting down the days until February 10th.  You remember.   Ray and I were flying down to Boca to spend the week with you before heading to The Keys.   You and I would walk on your beach.  I planned on stocking you up before we left.  Going to the grocery store and buying all your favorites.   Plans forming in my mind.  Lunches and dinners together.   Seeing where you called home.  Meeting your friends.  You were going to take us to meet your boss.   You were going to show us around Boca.  I felt like a kid on Christmas morning.   Anticipating how I would feel seeing you in person after six long months.

Now, I’m dreading this trip.   I will be going to Boca, but not to see you.   This trip has turned into a nightmare.  You are no longer there.  Your cold body flew home on a snowy January night.  Your urn sits on my mantel along with every picture I could copy off your Facebook page.  My joy shattered.   My original  plans blown away on that cold January day.

Ray and I head to the airport.   The silence is deafening.   There are no words.  Nothing can be said to erase this ache in my heart.   Tears flow as I try to tell myself to be strong.   I need to do this for you.   One final act of love.  I must retrace your steps.   I must hear your story.   I must bring home whatever you left behind.   It’s all I have left of you.   The remnants of your life cut short by the disease that killed us both.

The airport is crowded with smiling faces.   Families waiting to fly off to warmer climates.   I watch and have to fight the screams trying to escape my soul.   My brain replaying your flight home.   The cancelations, the delays, the endless wait to see if that body was really you.   Denial was my savior until I saw you with my own eyes.  Your still, cold body.   Until I touched your face and ran my fingers through your hair my fantasy of a mistake allowed me to function.

Our flight is called.   We stand in line waiting to board.   I feel like I’m being led to a slaughter.   People rush past.   I’m struggling through the quicksand that surrounds my body.   Fighting to put one foot in front of the other to board the flight into the nightmare that has become my life.

We are seated.   I’m struggling for air.   Ray senses my distress and grabs my hand.   In my mind I’m running up the aisle.   Screaming to be let off this flight.   This is not the way things were supposed to be.   Suddenly we are airborne.   My throat is closing.   My heart is racing.   Ray adjusts the air above my head.   Sobs are escaping.   Racking my body.   I dream of disappearing.

Landing in Ft. Lauderdale we are met by friends.   They supported you on your journey and were the first ones who came running when the news of your death spread.   A cloudless, blue sky greets us.  The day is sunny and warm.   My body is  freezing.   My swollen eyes are hidden behind dark glasses.   Even the warmth of the sun can not penetrate the ice that surrounds my soul.

Foolishly, I allow myself the fantasy.   You are waiting for us.   I imagine how you would look.   I scan the crowd for you.   I imagine your face, your smile, the sound of your voice.   I crave being wrapped in your hug.   Oh God,  please help me walk through this hell that has become my life.  Tears run down my face as the over whelming waves of reality hit me in my gut.   You are not here.

The Boca Raton Police Station is located in the heart of Boca.   We pull into the parking lot.   I feel the grief grabbing my throat.   I am silently being strangled.  I am telling myself to get out of the car.  My legs have turned to rubber as I struggle to move toward the door.   The door that will lead me to the truth.  The door that contains the information that will yield the final blow to my heart.

We are met by the detective assigned to your case.  I find it hard to make eye contact.   His eyes are full of pity.   His eyes were the last ones to see your lifeless body.  His eyes and hands touched you before I knew you were gone.  I want to reach out and touch his hand to my face.  I want to connect to this man who covered your handsome face in that hotel room.

He shares the facts of your last hours on earth.   He tells of your relapse.   Your distress.   Your being dumped at a hotel by the man who cashed my checks and lied to me about keeping you safe.   I sit there listening and feel a power come into my being.   The more I hear, the more I want to know.   Grief is replaced with anger.   I want to hear the ugly, dirty details of how you were tossed away like a piece of garbage.   How instead of getting you to safety,  this man disregarded your distress and left you to die.   I feel you there.   Giving me strength.   Pointing me to this new journey.   My wingman,  now my angel guiding me along this unfamiliar,  jagged, ugly path.

Your possessions are now brought into the room.   Paper bags marked evidence hold the last of you.   My hand shakes violently as I try to sign the release form.  My signature unrecognizable and damp with my tears.   There is nothing left to tell.

The sun blinds my swollen eyes.   I get into the backseat and hug your clothing to my heart.   Sobs come as my dam breaks.  My anger replaced with overwhelming pain.

Our next stop is Deerfield Beach.   Crossing the bridge from Boca to Deerfield,  I hear your voice.   You could not hide your excitement.  “Mom,  I found a job”.   “I’m going to be welding”.   “Got hired on the spot.”    I could see your smile over the phone.   The pride returning to your voice.   Your excitement found it’s way to my heart.   Oh God,  thank you.   My prayers answered.

The stopping car brings me back to reality.   I take a deep breath and walk into the door of Precision Aluminum.   We are greeted by your boss who’s face says it all.   Still shocked that you are gone.   He walks us through the shop and shows us where you spent your days.   He tells us what a great guy you were.   How you fit right in and felt like one of the family.   He tells us how your death has deeply affected your co-workers.   I am numb.   I picture you sitting on your bench.   You posted pics of you wearing your welding mask that proud smile spreading across your face.   Your head wrapped in your trademark bandana.   My fantasy interrupted by his voice.   He takes us outside and shows us your car.    He tells us he admired you riding your bike miles to get to work.   After riding through several soaking rainstorms he offered you a car.   I remember seeing your first post.   You standing in front of this beautiful Camaro.   You called her your baby.   A sob escapes as I open the door and see your shirt hanging over the back seat.   Your bandana tied around the mirror.   I am no longer in control.   The sobs of a wounded animal escape my soul.    My brain losing the fight to keep me sane.

Ray leads me to the car.   I am gone.    I hold your bandana to my face.   Steel and sweat fill my senses.   Your smell finds its way to my shattered soul.   Your scent so welcome,  I clutch all I have left to my heart and try to silence my screams.

We head to the beach you loved.   The one you told me so much about.   Spending weekends hanging out with friends.   Swimming in the warm surf.   I picture you walking toward me as I walk alone.   I need to be where you were.   I need to feel the sand that you felt and walk into the surf where you played.   I need to feel you.  My grief, now as powerful as the surf begins to pound my brain and is slowly transforming into anger.

I google the address where you lived.   I picture myself walking up to the man who tossed you away like a piece of trash.   I want him to see my face.   I want him to meet your mother in the flesh.   The women who believed his lies and signed the checks.  I want to dare him to say the ugly  words he spoke as I sobbed.   I want him to repeat what he told me when he finally had the balls to respond to my screaming messages.   I want him to look at your broken mom and tell me that “People die here everyday”.    Those words forever branded in my brain.   People like you.   Those he vowed to help.    His so called clients not worthy of saving.   I picture myself squeezing his throat.   I want him to know how I feel everyday.   I want him to experience the terror of not being able to catch your breath.   I want to watch the color drain from his face.   I want my face to be the last thing he sees as I say your name.

I am out of control.   Ray has called ahead knowing that I am breaking.   We are leaving Boca ahead of schedule.   I can take no more.

We hit the seven mile bridge.   I open my eyes.   I’m surrounded by a turquoise sea.   I hold tight to your shirt, roll down my window and drink in the sea air.   I am physically broken, mentally spent.    I look ahead at the vastness surrounding me and feel you with me.   “Hey Mom, are we there yet?”   You were always in such a hurry to reach our next destination.   “Mom,  how much longer?”   I see you as a little boy always curious.  Your little tow head in my rearview mirror.   Oh Matt,  I am so lost.   I have no idea where I am going.   Where my next journey will lead.    Right now I need to learn to breath.   To learn to accept the ending to your journey. I close my eyes and hear the gulls crying.    I listen and hear your name.

 

 

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