Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Category: Opiates (page 1 of 10)

Matt’s Damn Angry Mother

 

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Matt,   It’s been six months and I’m still trying to breathe.  I’ve been told that by now I should be angry at you.  Enough time has passed that the anger should come.  The well publicized stages of grief states that I am in the anger phase.  Well, I’m angry.  I’m damn angry.   I’m angry at the broken system that let you down.   I’m angry that the insurance industry  places more value on saving money than saving lives.   I’m angry that addiction is discriminated against by both the medical community and the Insurance Industry.  I’m angry that addiction is not treated like the disease it is.   I’m angry at the Lawmakers who turn a blind eye to this epidemic,  allowing scumbags to run sober living houses only caring about collecting rent from their tenants and not giving a damn about helping the addict.

I’m angry that lawmakers sat back and allowed relapsing addicts to be thrown into the streets or taken half unconscious to motels where they later died.   I’m angry that my handsome, funny, loving son died in a motel room because no one gave a damn.   I’m angry that the health care system continues to allows overprescribing physicians to practice.   Changing everyday people into addicts and destroying their lives.   I’m angry that addiction carries a stigma.

I’m angry that everyday I live with the crippling  pain knowing that I will never hear your voice or see your smiling face again.  I’m heartbroken knowing I will never dance at your wedding or hold your child in my arms.   I’m sick that you have been robbed of a beautiful life.    I’m broken when I see the pain on your brothers face and hear his voice crack when he says your name.   I’m angry that our lives have been demolished beyond repair.   I’m distressed that most of my friends have disappeared.  The ones that remain I can count on one hand.   I’m heartbroken that I can no longer spent time with you walking our dogs by the sea we both loved.  I’m so damn angry I want to scream..

There are days I get on my bike and ride like the wind.  Pushing myself to release the pain.  Crying, praying  and screaming as I petal  releasing this anger that everyone thinks should be directed at you.   Matt, please know I could never be angry at you.   I witnessed your struggle.  I felt your pain as we battled your demons together.   I know you fought your best fight.   I was there by your side with every relapse, every rehab, every struggle.   I know you did your best to fight your demons.   I am not angry at you my son.  I’m proud of the man you were.  Of the battle you fought and the life you tried to live.   You will always be my hero.   No anger, just overwhelming grief that your life is over.

Now my battle begins as I learn to  use my anger to fight for change. Your struggle gave me the education of a life time.   Witnessing the roadblocks and living the discrimination that you faced everyday gave me knowledge I never wanted to know.   It gave me a clear picture of the brokenness of the system in place that was not only responsible for your death, but the death of so many others.   My list is long.  I’ve got all the time in the world.  You are gone and I must find a new purpose or I will never recover.

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Funny,  since you’ve been gone I’ve become absentminded.  I call myself the dumb girl.  I laugh and try to explain to strangers that once a long time ago I was a smart girl.  Then my son died.   I’m told it called grief brain and I’m a living example.  I started writing lists of every barrier we encountered during your journey.   I was cleaning out my desk and this is what fell to the floor.   My thoughts scribbled on a piece of balled up paper.   With this paper came a wave of grief.   Seeing my scribble hit me again that this is my reality.   This list of wrongs that needed to be made right.   Memories of your struggles sucked the breath out of my lungs and punched me in my gut.   A powerful grief punch whenever I relive our past.   A single sheet of balled up paper brought me to my knees.   I could feel my anger burning with each sentence I read.   So many things that could have saved your life helped end it.

My List………….

Pain clinics and the overprescribing pill pushers that run them must  be regulated and have their prescribing practices monitored  facing disciplinary action when their patients become addicted.   Charged with murder when they die.

The medical community needs to be held accountable for their treatment and perception of the addict.   Doctors must become expert in addiction and treat it as any other chronic, treatable disease.  Addiction needs to become part of the curriculum in medical schools educating new physicians in this misunderstood disease.

Rehab facilities and detox centers must have  beds readily available.   The window of time is brief when the addict is ready to accept help.   Precious time must not be wasted.   The Insurance Industry must recognize addiction as a disease and extend the allowable time covered in rehab giving those suffering a fighting chance at recovery.

Matt, my anger will never be aimed at you.  You had a disease that should have been treatable not terminal.    Our current model of care  allows a stigma to exist against a vulnerable population of people with a horrible disease.  My anger has given me new purpose.   My anger  will help me go on without you.   My anger will allow me to step out of my comfort zone and fight for you.  I will say your name.   I will tell our story.   I will  show other mothers that there is no shame in addiction.   I will join the fight to stop this epidemic from killing the next generation of beautiful people.

My anger will fuel my purpose.   You are gone but you will live on forever through me.   As long as I have a breath it will be yours.  Forever in my heart.  Forever in my fight.   RIP my beautiful boy your angry moms got this. ❤️💔

One Breath, One Hour, One Day At A Time……

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Matt,

Five months and two days have passed since you left me behind.  This is how I count out the days since your death.   The days before were filled with periods of uncertainty but also with hope.   The roller coaster ride of your addiction was starting to slow down allowing me to catch my breath and dream of a peaceful future for both of us.   The years of struggling had taken its toll and we needed a break.   I Look back now and realize how foolish I was in thinking we had outsmarted your demons.   Florida was supposed to be a new beginning but all we got was an ugly ending.

Spring is finally here.  My gardens are coming to life.  The days are sunny and warm.  I keep hearing that life goes on.   That it’s been and I should be.   No one seems to understand that I am living in an empty shell.   My heart remains in pieces.  The woman I was died with you that cold January morning.   The words still echo in my soul, “It’s Matt.  He’s dead”.   That memory stuns my heart and stops me in my tracks.   I close my eyes and all I see is your smiling face.

I’ve read that the loss of a child does not just destroy the parent but demolishes them.   My life has suffered from the result of that demolition.   I am no longer that smart girl.  No longer able to bounce back and be the fixer.  I am broken and even I can not fix myself.  I am no longer that NICU Nurse.  Nope.  I just couldn’t put the pieces of myself back together fast enough so the hospital let me go.  Thirty six years and all I got was a kick out the door.  I look back and wish I had spent those weekends and holidays with my family instead of taking care of another family.  How I wish I gave less to my profession and more to my family.     We have this false sense that we will always have one more.  One more birthday, one more Christmas, one more chance to say I love you.  How foolish.  So now I’m unemployed.  How ironic, I  used to dream about the day I could retire.  Oh how I looked forward to having time.   No more working weekends or missing holidays.  Just precious time all to myself.  Time to spend in my life, not running the rat race.  Now time has become something I crawl through.

There is a saying that time heals all wounds.   People tell you to give it time.   Time will help.   As if time has the magical power to help you forget your child is gone.   All time has done for me is to deepen my pain.   Time passes and I realize I haven’t heard your voice or seen your face.   Time is not my friend.   Time is a painful march of birthdays, holidays and special days that are no more.  Time deepens the grief as my new reality seeps in and I realize this emptiness will be a part of my soul forever.   Days have turned to weeks and weeks to months.   Time marches on and with each day I must learn to survive.   Knowing there will be no more phone calls, no visits to see your life in Florida.   No Matt coming home for Thanksgiving or Christmas.    Time is a painful reminder that there will be no more.   A crack that started small is now an abyss that swallowed my soul.

Before your death, I wanted time to slow down.   I complained that it was going by too quickly.   Days and months were flying by.   I wanted time to give me more moments to enjoy life.   To enjoy your recovery.   To enjoy moments between a mother and her son who survived the ultimate challenge.  To enjoy a bit of normal in our chaotic world.   I wanted the change of seasons to last longer allowing us more time to savor the beauty we had missed during your struggle.  I wanted to make up for the time we lost fighting your demons.   I wanted time to see your beautiful, clear eyes.   I wanted time to smell the roses together.   To walk by the sea laughing like we had not a care in the world.

Working and fixing you took every second of everyday.   My mind always on overdrive.    Spinning with plan A, B or C.   Always trying to be one step in front of your addiction.

Now, time can’t move fast enough.   I want the holidays to fly away and be gone.   Birthdays too.   I want time to fly making my head spin away from my reality and the pain it continues to bring.     My grief has ended a nursing career that spanned 36 years of my life.   Time is now something I have plenty of.   Something I try to fill everyday.     The void left by your absence has shattered my very core.   Your death hit me like a bucket of ice water.   Taking my breath away and putting me into a state of shock.

Time has also taught me a lesson.   I have no control over it and what it may bring.   We’ve all heard the saying, “In God’s time not ours”.   Now through my grief I understand.  Time does not belong to us.   Time, however long or short is a precious gift.

For now, I will use this time to remember you my beautiful boy.   I will let my tears flow at will.   I will scream into the wind on a cloudy beach.    I will run into the surf, close my eyes and remember.   I will continue to tell your story.   I will hold you in my heart forever.   I will have conversations with God asking questions only he can answer.   I will use this time to remember my blessings.    I will use this gift of time to start healing my heart and soul.   This gift of time is a double edge sword.   I have no choice.   You are gone and I am left behind to find my new normal.   One step, one day,  one breath at a time.

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.

 

 

The Final Goodbye

 

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Matt,  It’s been four days since you died and my world spun off its axis.  I’m unbalanced now.  Walking around in a fog.  Disbelief and reality take turns playing games with my heart.  Trying to bring you home has been a challenge.  I was told it would be easier to cremate you in Florida.  Quicker and cheaper.  This mother needs to see you again.  A part of me remains in denial.  This is a horrific mix up.  You are alive and this is the son of another mother.

They tell me your flight finally arrived in Philly late last night.  The last time you were in Philly it was to fly into a new life.  You were so full of hope and dreams.  I never expected you to return home in a box.   Flights have been off schedule due to back to back snowstorms.  Was that you Matt?  You always loved the snow.

I’m told I can see you today just for a bit as we now have a schedule to keep.  I need to see your handsome face.  A face that is now frozen in time.  There will be no wrinkles or gray hair for you my beautiful boy.  We will never dance together as you wed the love of your life.  I will never hold your child in my arms.  My dreams about your future torn to shreds, blowing away in the January wind.

I feel like an actress in a role I never wanted to play.  What does a mother wear to go view the body of her son.  My mind is foggy and my body feels like I’m walking through quick sand.  Eyes swollen beyond help.  Face puffy and red.  I can’t even look at my reflection.  I don’t care anymore.  I don’t talk to Jesus.  There is nothing to talk about.  He didn’t protect you and neither did I.  I’ve read that Jesus only gives you what you can handle.  He doesn’t know me like I thought he did.  I always told him I could never survive losing you.  You are gone.

I was able to spend two hours with you.  It was the shortest two hours my life.  I needed to see you alone before anyone else.  I needed it to be just you and me.  Like it used to be.  A mother and her son hanging out sharing life except now your life was gone and I was left behind.  Ray dropped me off and went to park his car.  I walked inside and tried to catch my breath.  I asked you to give me strength to see you today.  To walk into a funeral home and say goodbye to my beautiful son.

The rooms eerily quiet.  I walked through my fog and felt that familiar throat tightening, heart racing envelope my body.  I closed my eyes and prayed it would not be your face my eyes would see.  I would shout for joy, it’s not Matt, it’s not Matt.   My fantasy was short lived.  You looked like you were sleeping.  Quiet but so cold.  I could see the bluish color under the layer of makeup applied to your face.  I grabbed your hand and ran my fingers through your hair.  I lay my head on your chest praying to hear the beat of your heart.  Oh God this can not be.  My brain is silently screaming.  Slowly Ray and Mike approach.  I will not move from holding you.  My body frozen with yours.  They ask why you were wet.  I didn’t realize that my flood of tears was falling onto you face.  I wondered if you were looking down on your broken family.  Your brother once so strong crying like a baby.  Our time is up.  I want to stay forever.  I want to sit with you until I am no more.  In my fog there are voices.  Mom, we need to go.  Mom, please let go.  I’m surrounded by what’s left of us.  Mike and Ray giving me their strength to walk away.  The slap of reality hits my face.  A blast of icy wind on this most brutal of days.

I spend the next days planning your memorial.  Denial is a wonderful thing.  In all the years we battled your addiction I never thought I would be planning your funeral.   I felt betrayed.   In all the books I read written by parents like me the addict lived.  Everyone had a happy ending.  Beautiful Boy,  An Addict In The Family, and Stay Close all gave me the misconception that no matter how sick the addict was they lived.  Those books would be burned with the next fire.  Where were the books to shatter my illusion?  Where were the books to let parents know that addicts die?  Addiction is no fairy tale.  There is no happy ending.

Writing your obituary was brutal.  I remember pacing around the kitchen while Ray sat at the computer.  I was sobbing and shaking as I tried to find the words to honor your life.  A life cut too short by your demons.  We kept the service private.  Family and close friends would be the only one’s sharing my grief.  I feared your drug buddies would come and I couldn’t risk the reaction of your brother.  I lost one son, I could not lose another.

The day I foolishly thought would never be part of our journey is here.  I always thought it would be you and Mike saying a final goodbye to me.  Never the other way around.   It’s snowing.  I run outside and look at the sky.  Is that you, Matt?  I want to grab each falling flake and hold it to my heart.  Matt, Matt, how will I survive this day?   I stand outside closing my eyes and remember coming home one night crying after losing a baby in the NICU.  “Mom, I don’t know how you do that”.   You gave me a hug and said,”It must be so hard when a baby dies”.   Now it’s my baby who died.  My soul is broken and I want to stay here watching the flakes fall from the sky not go to say goodbye.

The day was cloudy and dark.  The weather mimicking my soul.  The snow continued to fall.  I stood in my bedroom staring at the borrowed black dress.  My brain not able to allow my heart to feel.  I am numb.  My body in survival mode.  I will need the strength of an army of angels to get through this day.  There is nothing that can be done to ease my pain.  I am weighted down by grief.  My limbs have turned to lead.  My movements slow.  I remember once again feeling like an actress.  Getting ready to play a role she didn’t want to win.  My face shows years of stress and days of profound grief.  My eyes have no shine.  Shark eyes.  No life.  I am the walking dead.  I don’t waste time with makeup.  My tears continue to fall.  I remember being in Ray’s car.  He is driving to our church.  The same church we attended together will be the place we will say our last goodbye.

I walk in alone.  I need to prepare myself for this moment.  Picture boards are placed next to your urn.  I can not look.  I walk to your urn and give you a hug.  Sobs are racking my body.  This is what’s left of you my precious child.  Once again it’s just you and me.  My brain screaming, this can’t be.  My heart breaking as the reality of our life washes over me like the waves we used to run through.  I close my eyes and we are laughing and running.  So full of joy and life.  I’m so lost in my fantasy that I don’t realize that friends have lined up to pay their respects.

I am hugged over and over.  Boys you grew up with, now men telling me how much you were loved.  Their parents shocked faces afraid to look me in the eye.  How does a mother bury her child.  The line seemed to go on forever.  Muffled voices mixed with tears all coming to show support.  I feel like a robot.  Shaking hands and allowing people to hug me.  The only hug I want to feel is from you.  I have put on my mask.  Pretending to listen to words when all I hear is the roar of the ocean.  I’ve been offered pills to help me get through this.  I am angry.  I felt the pain of giving you life.  I need to feel this pain of saying goodbye.  Finally the line is over.  The service is starting.  I hear the songs I chose fill the church with beautiful music.  Songs you started to listen to by Casting Crowns and Mercy Me.  The words gave you hope and increased your faith in Jesus.  I sit between Mike and Ray.  Holding on for dear life as Mike, our minister tearfully talks about your life.  He became your friend and tried so hard to help during your dark days.  He is overcome with emotion.  Your brother is shaking as tears spill down his face.  Oh God, my boys were supposed to grow old together. To hang onto each other when I was gone.  Your brother struggling so hard to be strong has become a sobbing little boy.  His only brother, his partner in crime now gone forever.

I don’t know how I did it.  I’d written another letter to you and wanted it read at your service.  It was my final tribute to my son, my hero.  You struggled for so long to get clean.  Your struggle now over, mine was just beginning.

I took a deep breath and stood up.  I walked to the podium where minutes before our Pastor was speaking.  My vision blurry and my voice cracking with emotion.  I held on for dear life as I started to share our story with those who loved you the most.

Dear Matt,

You said this day would never come.  You told me you loved me too much and could never hurt me this bad.  Yet here we are gathered today to honor your life.  A life cut too short by your demons.

Now I stand here sharing my last words about you with the people who loved you so much.

My son was an addict.  I am not ashamed.  I will shout it from the rooftops, my son was an addict.

Oh Matt, we were both so foolish to think you had the power to keep that promise.  The demons were stronger than both of us.  Now you are gone and I am forever broken.  These last seven years have been a horrific struggle.  Ray, Mike and I watched you slowly destroy yourself day by day.  There were endless night of worry and torment, not knowing where you were or if you were alive or dead.  Nights when I would call out for help and your brother would drop everything and come.  Together Mike, Ray and I would devise our next plan and get you to safety.

I thought bringing you home would save you.  There I could watch you and protect you from your demons.  I am your mother and that’s what mothers do.  Oh Matt, we tried so hard to get you to see that drugs were not the answer.  So many rehabs, programs and counselors.  We thought we were on the right track.  Now I stand here and look at your brothers face and realize how foolish we were to think we could outwit the demons.

There were so many times we had hope.  Spring came and the old Matt was coming back.  You told me you wanted that monkey off your back.  A new rehab, the start of a new life.  Mike, Ray and I could only see you on Sunday for one hour due to the rules.  I remember us sitting together looking out over the water thinking we finally did it, we beat your demons.

You looked so good.  Your face and eyes so clear.  You said you were done with drugs and looked so forward to a new life.  Now where to go as the demons lived in Delaware.

Your new life in Florida was supposed to be a fresh start from the demons that followed you most of your life. You and I are beach people.  We shared a feeling of peace with God by the sea.  We talked everyday.  You told me you loved it near the ocean.  You felt so blessed at the chance for a new life.  Finally there was joy, hope, peace and sleep for Mike, Ray and I.  I deceived myself into thinking our nightmare was finally over.   Little did I know it was just getting ready to destroy us.

The last time we spoke was Friday night, January 2nd at 6:23 p.m.  You sounded normal.  My trained ears hearing nothing to prepare me for what was to come.  We ended our call as we always did.  I love you, Matt.  I love you, Mom.  I’ll talk to you soon.   That next call never came.

For reasons I will never understand.  Reasons that will haunt my heart for the rest of my life you used and overdosed, being left in a motel room by the man I trusted with your life.  You died at 4:50 a.m. Saturday morning.  I remember waking at that exact moment feeling like something was horribly wrong.  A cool breath surrounded my body at the same time your spirit was leaving yours.  Was that you Matt giving me one last hug?

I am so proud of the man you were.  You were loving and giving.  You who had nothing would give it away to someone in need.  If you could only read what your friends are posting on your Facebook page.  How much you were loved.  How you were looked up to and how devastated everyone is by your death.  I wish you had loved yourself enough.

I’ve read that losing a child doesn’t just change you it destroys you.  Matt I am destroyed.  Pieces of my shattered heart still beat in my chest. I have become the walking dead.  Feeling nothing but the  profound sadness that has taken up residence in my soul.  I would gladly ride the rollercoaster of chaos with you again.  I would gladly exchange my life for yours.  I will never understand.

Your nightmare is over while mine has just begun.    I am going through a withdraw from your addiction.  You see, Matt you were not the only addict in our family.  I was addicted to saving you.  Now I must find a way to make it through the rest of my life.  I’m told I must go on.  My toughest struggles are ahead of me as I navigate this life.  Knowing that I will never hear your voice or look into your beautiful eyes again is just too much to bear.  There will be no more birthdays, no wedding, no children.  Everything is gone with you.

There is a saying that ‘Life’s a Beach’.   I pray heaven is your beach and you are free.  Playing in the ocean like you did as a boy.  When I can breathe again I will free you and your beloved Kahlua into the sea you both loved so much. Until then you are coming home with me.  Even though you were a man you will always be my tow-headed beautiful boy.  I will love you forever.  I pray you will meet me when I take my last breath.   Wait for me by the sea we both love.  I want to open my eyes and see your handsome face.  I want to look into your eyes and know that I am home.  I want to grab your hand and run laughing into the surf that we both so love.

Godspeed my precious son.  My wingman. Until we meet again.

Love Mom

 

 

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