Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Category: mother surviving after sons death (page 1 of 3)

Keeping Us Alive By Telling Your Story

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Matt,  Today a news crew is interviewing me about your addiction.   I am sharing our story about how horribly you were treated during your struggle.  I want the world to know that you did not have to die from this very treatable disease.  That had society and the insurance industry felt the need to save you, you would be alive today.   But society sees addiction as a dirty disease and feel that those who suffer from it aren’t worth saving.

I have a different opinion.  You were worth saving.  Your life had meaning and value.  I remember you before the addiction took control of your brain.  Your giving heart.  Your beautiful soul.  The problem with society is that people are blinded by the disease.  They refuse to see beyond behaviors that are part of the damaged brain.  I wonder how many parents would punish their child after a diagnosis of any other disease. Would they disown the child sneaking the candy bar because he doesn’t understand the harm of eating it after becoming a diabetic?  Why does society feel its acceptable to label addicts as not worth saving?  How can strangers be so harsh in their judgement of people they know nothing about?

After living the nightmare of your addiction I chose to fight back against a society who has no clue.  To honor your life that was cut short because of stigma.  I tell your story to whoever will listen.  I fight to save other mothers from my grief.  I fight to save other mother’s children from your fate.  I speak out about how you were treated and how society thinks addiction is a dirty disease and those who suffer from it are disposable people.

There is a world wide misconception that addiction is a self inflicted disease.  I guess it’s easier to form an opinion when you disregard the facts.  The brutal reality is that addiction is a man made disease.  Created by overprescribing physicians.  Many who received kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies for prescribing opioids for every ache and pain.  You followed doctors orders.  You trusted the pill pushers hiding behind their white coats.  You became a victim of an industry that cares more about profit than it does for quality of human life.

I guess its easier for people to point fingers and whisper behind our backs passing judgement about a disease they know very little about.  I guess perceptions and pre-conceived notions are more acceptable when you haven’t lived the disease or witnessed the struggle.

I’ve learned that pre-conceived notions fuel the stigma and contribute to the bias against this most powerful, deadly disease.

I pray that telling your story will begin to break down the walls and change the hearts and minds of those who believe that people like you are disposable.  That your life didn’t matter.  That the disease of addiction wiped away your worth and made your death acceptable to society.  I pray that seeing your smiling face and my grieving one will start the crack that begins to unravel misconceptions regarding those who suffer from the disease of addiction.  Telling our story keeps you alive.   Telling your story keeps me alive.

There Is No Black and White In Addiction

 

 

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Matt,   Today is my birthday.   My third without you.   I still have such a hard time believing that there will be no phone call or card signed Love Matt.  You won’t be hiding in the house to surprise me.   Once again I try to get though another milestone without you.   I’m in New York.   Funny you know I would have rather spent my day at the beach walking on the sand listening to the sea birds and the crashing of the ocean.   But my article about your addiction was featured in a magazine and I was invited to attend the reveal here in NY.  This humbling experience was something I could not miss.

Since your death, I have become an advocate for the treatment of addiction.   I write and speak about how horribly you were treated by the Insurance Industry and treatment facilities.  I speak out about the ugly stigma that follows addiction.   I work to make changes in our state laws.   It’s the only way I survive.  Your death rocked me to my core.   Everyday I struggle to find my new normal.   Everyday I pray that you are finally at peace.   Everyday I wake to this empty house.    My regrets about letting you go to Florida smack me swiftly in the face.  I feel so guilty about your death.   I still can’t believe I didn’t see how wrong it was for you to leave home and go so far away.   The thought of you being dumped in a motel to die kills me more and more each day.   My guilt beats at my soul.   My brain questions what kind of mother lets her son go so far away?

I wanted you to have a fresh start at a new life.   I was tricked into believing that new people, places and things would cure you.   All those books written about addiction by people who think they are experts in the field led us down the path of no return.   Parents who talk about tough love and disowning their kids because of addiction.   So much misinformation published by people who think they have the answers to addiction.   Don’t they know that every family is different?

There is no black and white once size fits all in this ugly disease.   Misleading parents like me that if we follow what they did our story would have the same happy ending.   Looking back I should have followed my gut.   I should have known you would never survive without your family close by to support you when you fell.   I knew you better than anyone and still I let you go.   Those books have been trashed as they should have been so long ago.

It’s ironic.   I wrote the truth about us.   The ugly, horrible, brutally honest truth about how your addiction stomped our family to death.   How your addiction shattered us to the core.   How I became addicted to your addiction and turned into a person I no longer recognized.   Funny, the editor I sent it to told me it was too ugly to publish.   That both you and I were horrible people.   That no one would want to read my work.

At first her words crushed me.   Then reality hit.  The reason this epidemic continues to have such power  killing far more than any disaster or war is because many people don’t want ugly.   People want pretty.  People want fairy tale endings.   People want to think that if we continue to ignore addiction it will go away. That it won’t affect our families.  That addiction is something that happens to others.  That addiction is something we can walk away from and never look back.   We only want to hear about beautiful children from perfect families who go on to lead successful lives.

I blame myself.   I should have never let you go.   I lived the ugliness with you.   Yes, there were a few glimpses of pretty.   The few times you came back as the Matt I knew before.   Times when the possibility of our fairy tale ending played tricks with my mind.   Your addiction was more powerful than even I could have ever imagined.   Your addiction won.

Now I live with regret.   I live with guilt.    The joke was on me.  I live knowing that birthdays, holidays and life in general will never hold the same meaning.   Oh how I wish I read how brutally ugly the true reality of addiction could be.

My Tug Of War With Guilt

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Matt,   Guilt is defined as a feeling of having done something wrong.   A feeling of letting someone down.   A painful emotion when one believes that their behavior has affected the outcome of another.   Guilt has moved into my psyche and refuses to leave.

During your active addiction, my head was spinning.   Taking time to quiet my mind was a luxury I didn’t have.   Now the quiet is deafening.   The quiet has become a powerful enemy.   It gives me time to replay every thought, every decision, every move I made to save your life.   This unwelcome quiet knows my every move.   It lurks ready to pounce when I least expect.

All of a sudden the lightbulbs that remained dark have illuminated my mind allowing me to see clearer than ever before.   My Aha moment.   A moment I so desperately needed during your addiction once illusive now smacks me in the face every chance it gets.

I have become a crime scene investigator.   Sifting through the rubble of our shattered lives.   Searching for clues as to what went wrong.   The belief that I let you down holds tight to my heart.   Searching my mind for the actions done and not done that might have changed your outcome.

Yes, I know you were an adult.   I hear that voice of reason trying to break through my subconscious when I’m beating myself into the ground.   When the guilt joins my grief swallowing me whole and refusing to let me come up for air.   I try to remember that you were a man.   All my broken heart sees is my little tow headed boy reaching out for a mother who was a thousand miles away.

Mothers are supposed to protect their children.   That belief comes with no expiration date.   We don’t stop loving, protecting or saving when our kids become men.   You were so controlled by your addiction you could not save yourself.   Being a man really had nothing to do with who was responsible to save you.   You were brainwashed into believing you controlled the disease.   You were a victim to a deadly mindset that even a mother’s love could not break through.

So now I’m left to sort through endless emotions.   To rethink every decision made.   To replay and rewind every scene of our very tragic story.   The mind is a powerful thing.   It has no on-off switch.   It has a mind of its own and I have little to no control when the memory will hit taking my breath with it.

Mother’s are born with the guilt gene.   I know I was.  It came to life as you were placed in my arms and moved into my soul becoming more powerful each year as I tried to protect you from yourself.   I feel like I failed you.   I look for signs that you see what I go through.   I question if you understand that you are really gone from this life.   I wonder what it was like for you.   Did you finally understand that you crossed the line and would not wake up?   Did you think of me or did the euphoria carry you away without a care?    Did you picture my face or hear my voice telling you that one day you would forget and fall asleep forever?   Did you wonder what your death would do to my life?

So now I fight to survive.   I fight to allow a little of my guilt to fall on your shoulders.   I fight myself when the full responsibility of your death punches my heart and drops me to my knees.   I fight the image of my tow headed innocent son allowing a small slice of our reality to ease my pain.   Yes, you were a man with a disease you had no control over.   This disease took you away.   I try to recall facts, statistics, anything that helps me to understand that I like you were powerless over your disease.

I wish you and I could have one last conversation.   I wish I could hear you tell me it’s not my fault.   My heart would love to hear that I am forgiven.   That you knew I fought for you and against you to save you.   God how I wish Heaven had visiting hours……….

No Candles, No Cake, Just Forever Heartbreak

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Matt.   Today, July 30th is your birthday.   It’s one of those milestones that we all get teased about.  The big 40.  Forty years ago you came crashing into my world.   Barely giving me time to breathe let alone make it to the hospital.   You had your own timetable and did it your way.   Fast and furious with barely a warning that you were making your grande entrance into  life.   I remember the first time I saw you.   Your tiny perfect face.  Those amazing green eyes.  Your birth came weeks before I was ready.   Your death came just as quickly leaving me as breathless as your birth.

There will be no family party celebrating your entering the fortieth decade of life.  There will be no teasing about gray hair or the beginnings of bald spots.  No worries about wrinkles or losing your physique.   Your brother won’t be able to dare you to bend low as you blow out your candles setting you up for a face full of cake.   There will be no laughter, burgers or beer.   The only sound will be in the depths of my soul silently screaming for a redo.

Memories flood my mind of past birthdays.   The house full of people and pups.   Celebrating your life.  I remember your smile, your contagious laugh.  I remember you and Mike sitting around the table thick as thieves sharing stories of your shared escapades,  belly laughing over things done  and hidden from mom.  You never acted your age when you were together.   Your personality  brought out the child in you both and I loved sitting back  watching  my men relive their boyish antics.   You and Mike one year and 20 days apart.   Both July babes.  People called you Irish twins.   I called you the loves of my life.

As clearly as I remember the first time I saw you I also remember the last.   Such a contrast in seasons.   Your birth a beautiful warm day in July.   Your death a bitter cold day in January.   I remember hearing your first cries.   Letting the world know you had arrived.   I remember the quietness that greeted me in your death.   The only sound in the room was the sobbing in my soul as I looked at my sleeping boy, so quiet, so cold.   The only similarity in your birth and death was once again it was just us.   You and me.   A mother and her beautiful boy.

I remember running my fingers through your hair.  Still soft even in death.   There will be no grays for you my boy, your hair forever light brown.   I remember touching your face.   Skin smooth and wrinkle free.   A hint of the growth you never shaved shadowed your perfect face.   Your amazing  eyes forever closed.   You could not see me standing next to you.   You could not hear my voice telling you how much I loved you as I did when we first met.    I held your hand and remembered the first time you wrapped your fingers around mine.   The times you reached out for me as we ran into the crashing surf.   Your hands always reaching for mine.  Your hands now so still.  You, my beautiful boy forever frozen in time.   Forever 37.

Today,  I will close my eyes and let the memories of you flood my heart.   I will remember the joy, the love, and the pain that bonds us forever.   I will remember your crazy smile.  Your goofy laugh.   Your big bear hug.  I will picture you and your brother from birthdays long ago.   I will remember you crashing into my life on that July night and I will remember you leaving on that cold January morning.    I will pray that you have found peace.   I will pray that you are whole in body and mind.   I pray that your heaven is a beach and when my time comes you will be there holding out your hand reaching for mine.

Happy 40th birthday my beautiful boy.  How I wish you were here.

 

 

 

 

My Encounter With An Angel

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Matt,   I was having one of those days.   The one where grief lay waiting for me to open my eyes before it slammed into my heart.  The hit so powerful that I found myself breathless even before my feet hit the floor.   Your loss has rocked my world like nothing I could ever have imagined.    These days I find myself unsteady.    Shaking from the inside of my soul.   The ground beneath me is hard to navigate.   My journey is one I never saw coming.   I have lost my compass, my anchor.

On these days I’ve learned I must stay active.  I must physically challenge my body.   I must train my mind to stay away from the reality of my life.   I must keep moving physically escaping the nagging thoughts that constantly take over my brain.   I must outrun grief like it’s a rabid dog biting at my heals.

This day I ignored the excessive heat warnings.   Loading my bike on it’s rack I could feel the weight of my grief getting ready to follow me on this journey of survival.   It was ready to tag along like an unwanted friend as I struggled to find a few moments of peace.

Biking is my therapy.   It has become a way to soothe my soul.  Feeling the breeze on my face as the scenery changes.   Pumping my legs, feeling that adrenaline rush helps push the grief out of my mind.

A bright blue sky with huge puffy clouds greeted me as I headed to my old college town.   This town has trails holding memories from a time long ago.   A time of innocence and expectation.   College life so full of possibilities, hopes and dreams.   Biking down these familiar paths brought memories of happy times before life took me to places I’d never thought I would travel.

I remember biking past Rita’s and thinking I should stop.   Ignoring my thoughts I continued on my journey but I was unable to out run that urge to stop.   Rita’s was considered a treat.   I’d always order a mango Gelati savoring every bite.   Being out of water and soaked with sweat made the decision to stop a no brainer.   My thoughts turned to how great that Gelati would feel sliding down my parched throat.

I found a cool spot in the shade and let my mind wander.   Remembering those happy times long ago when I was a carefree student.   Wanting a do over.  Dreaming of going back in time knowing what I know now.   Wanting your story to have a different ending.   Wanting not to be the grieving mother of a man who lost his battle with addiction.   Wanting to leave my grief behind and rekindle the joy that now eluded my life.

I remember the feeling of being watched.   I was so lost in my own thoughts I wasn’t aware of the couple who decided to join me in my shady paradise.   We exchanged smiles and I surprisingly felt a connection.   Trying to pretend we weren’t glancing in each others direction, the conversation began.

“Hey, I remember you” this man now moving closer tells me.  “You were our nurse in the NICU”.    His wife now standing by his side.   “Yes, you took care of our daughter”.    We shake hands like old friends meeting again.   I remember the mother lowering her head and whispering “She was born addicted”.   “We spent weeks in the NICU”.   With tear filled eyes she shared her story of struggling everyday to get and stay clean. Sharing her embarrassment that her baby was born addicted.   They told me how hard they have worked, both beaming with pride as they spoke of their beautiful, healthy daughter and their journey to recovery.

My eyes filled with tears.   I also remembered.   Seeing them again filled me with both joy and pain.   My grief poured out as I told your story.   Sharing your seven year struggle and your death.   Your struggles so similar to theirs yet your ending so different.   We hugged, both of them holding onto your broken mother.   Tears mingling for a lost life.   Sharing a bond beyond explanation.

We parted with a mixture of smiles and tears.   Connected by love and loss.   I began to walk toward my bike still wiping away my tears.   I felt a hand on my shoulder.  This father built so much like you wrapped me in his arms.   I closed my eyes and for a brief moment felt you.  I allowed myself to disappear into the comfort of his touch.   I drank in the warmth of his big bear hug.   So much like yours.   Memories of how it felt to be wrapped up in your arms flooded my broken heart.   I wanted to hold on forever.   To trick my mind.   Never letting you go.

Biking away I felt peaceful.   Like you reached down from heaven and touched my soul.   I began to think my stopping had nothing to do with enjoying a Gelati.   My chance encounter with a couple who’s life I touched.   Both struggling with addiction.   A son of another mother.   A mother who lost her son.   A man who brought you back to me for an incredible moment.   This man hiding behind your beautiful angel wings.

 

 

 

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