Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Tag: overdose death (page 1 of 2)

United By Addiction. Bonded By Grief

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Matt,

I had the amazing experience of attending The Fed Up Rally and the Unite to Face Addiction concert in Washington DC this weekend.   When I was in the midst of the battle to find you help I felt so alone.   I felt isolated.   I felt that no one cared.   I had no idea how many other mother’s knew my heartbreak.

I was having second thoughts about attending.   Every weather report dampened my spirits and made me think of staying home and staying dry.   Then I looked at your picture and felt that gut punch of knowing you were really gone.    The broken system  failed us both and you paid with your life.   As I continued to stare into your  beautiful eyes, I felt a power in my soul like I’d never experienced  before.   I’d walked through hell during your active addiction, why would I let the threat of heavy rain and wind keep me away.

I read about the Rally in the paper.   They were asking for stories of recovery and hope.   I had written a piece telling our story and included your picture.   To my surprise, It was published and I was humbled.   I also sent your picture to be included in The Addicts Mom’s quilt.   There was no way I was going to miss seeing your face being remembered at this amazing event.

I took a bus early Saturday morning with a small group from Delaware.   We knew each other’s grief, each of us losing a child.   Saturday was an emotional day for me.   It was the nine month anniversary of your death and here I was riding a bus in the rain to attend a rally for drug addiction.   My tears fell along  with the rain drops as I remembered the struggle to find you help.    Unfortunately, Delaware had no rehabs.   We have one detox unit that never had any beds when you finally agreed to get clean.    I remembered conversations begging your insurance company to approve treatment only to be told that you had no days left.   How could they treat your disease like you were not worth the time or money spent to save your life?   Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think you would die and I would be on a bus heading to Washington participating in a march to The White House.

The bus dropped our group off at the hotel.   We grabbed our rain gear and headed to the memorial.  The sky was grey with a light rain falling mimicking my mood.   The closer I got the more I could feel the atmosphere changing.   When we reached the mall, I was shocked at the size of the crowd.   People just like me.   Strangers who knew my grief and walked in my shoes.   Strangers whose faces looked just like mine.   Shock and disbelief marked us as those left behind.  Eyes swollen and empty as we wiped tears away with the sleeve of our shirt.

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The stage held a memorial filled with names of those who lost their battle.  I was brought to my knees when I saw your name.  My precious son surrounded by hundreds of those who like you are gone forever.  I felt that too familiar gut punch as my tears started to fall.  I wore your picture on a lanyard around my neck.   I grabbed it and started to sob.     A complete stranger came and wrapped me in her arms.   Whispering that she understood my pain.   Here we were two mothers, strangers, holding each other up as the rain mixed with our tears.    Sharing stories of children lost.   I witnessed the kindness of strangers forever bonded by a common grief.

I was waiting outside The Addicts Mom’s tent.   They were preparing to unveil the quilt.   I remember the wind blowing  and the rain hitting my face.   My eyes searching the many squares until I saw your face.   Your beautiful smile right in the center of this beautiful handmade creation.   The sound of a wounded animal came from my lips as I stood letting the rain mix with my tears hugging myself against the heartbreaking pain.   Arms reached for me.   Another mother who got it.   We rocked each other in the rain and wind as we shared our heart breaking grief.   Another mother living my life, knowing my pain.   Angels walking among the crowd comforting strangers.

We formed groups as we prepared to walk to the White House.   I looked around in awe.   Thousands of people all here for the same reason.   The broken system failed their loved ones.   I was no longer alone.   We marched together.   We hugged each other.   We shed tears together as we shouted out against a system that must be changed.   We were empowered by the numbers.   We were heard.   I walked back to the hotel with a couple who lost their son.   We now call each other friend.   This event formed a bond never to be broken.

Sunday morning came with my familiar face in the mirror.   Puffy eyes staring back at me.   My face changed by grief.   The price of addiction is what I now call my new look.   I have forgotten how to smile.   I attended a breakfast in Arlington hosted by The Addicts Mom group.   A group no mother wants to belong to but the circumstances of life have left us no choice.   It was emotional to meet all the mothers I’ve supported and who have supported me on Facebook.   These women have walked through the same hell and get it.   Again I came face to face with the quilt.   Your smiling face staring back at me and again another mother held me as I shattered into pieces.

There really are no words to describe Sunday’s event.   The crowd tripled from Saturday.  The weather cold, and dreary.   I stood on the hill by The Monument.   In awe at the number of people from all parts of the country coming together to demand better care for the disease of addiction.   Many holding pictures and banners with names and dates.   All here to honor the ones they loved and lost.  Those in recovery were celebrating  a new sober life.   Everyone had a story to tell.   Strangers sharing their souls with strangers.  Sharing the bonds of love, loss and hope.

Sunday evening Joe Walsh and his fellow musicians held a concert to honor those lost and those struggling to survive.   A tribute to this deadly disease.   The crowd came alive.  When the music started the atmosphere became one of happiness and hope.   Rich and famous artists coming out and admitting they were once addicts.  Speeches by people who care and will fight to make changes.  Hope.   I could feel it in the air, at last there was hope.   Our new Surgeon General gets it.   Lawmakers now ready to join our fight  providing equal treatment for the disease of addiction.  Hope.   I stood with a crowd of strangers and danced to the music.  Joy I hadn’t felt for so long coursed through my soul.  We held onto each other when a  song hit a nerve and tears returned.   We sang out loud.  We were empowered.   Too many people fighting for the same cause.   Everyone remembering loved ones.   Honoring them by speaking out against the stigma.

I still get chills when I look at my pictures of all the faces lost.   Pictures of people coming together and lifting each other up in spirit.   Strangers becoming friends.   Promises of keeping in touch.  Of working together for the greater good.   I’m humbled by this experience and I know I will never be the same.   I no longer feel alone as I remember the beauty of seeing thousands of people coming together demanding change.

There is a saying, If God closes one door he opens another.   My new door has opened and I know I have thousands of people fighting the same fight.   I will be your voice.   I will remember your smiling face on that quilt surrounded by a hundred others.    No longer alone but humbled by the compassion of strangers.

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.

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.

Fighting My Way Through The Fog

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Matt.  Today is unbearable, empty.  There is nothing left to do.  Last week my mind shrouded in grief had to function.  There was no choice.  First, I had to get you home to Delaware.  Flight after flight was canceled because of the snow storms.  I wondered if that was you.  Your last joke on me.  I remembered how you loved the snow.   I close my eyes and see You, Me and Mike racing out the door into the newly fallen snow.   The dogs on our heals.  Boys in the bodies of men squealing with laughter as we slammed each other with snow balls.  Darting through trees or whatever cover we could find.   Not a care in the world.  Just a mom and her teenage sons.  The age of innocence before any thought of drugs would enter our perfect snow covered world.  Soaked and exhausted we would drop to the ground and spread our wings.  Snow Angels.  Three in a row.   Matt, your angel is forever gone.  Blown away by the wind of your demons, never to return again.

Writing your obituary and planning your memorial service were the most painful events in my life.   Trying to find words to describe your life.  What does a mother say about her son’s life.  How do you describe the tow headed little child who held your heart in his hands?  How do you describe the man, the struggle and the demons?  How do you put the last seven years into a word document when you can’t breathe and comprehend that this is reality?  You and Mike should be going through this.  Not me and Ray.  You were supposed to live.  You were supposed to be here when I left to stand by your brothers side and say goodbye to me.  Not the other way around.

So now what is left for me?  My life revolved around saving you.  You are gone and I am left shattered.  A wine glass thrown against a wall.  There is no putting me back together.   I sit alone curled up by the fire.  The pups feel my grief.  I am dark, unreachable, untouchable, numb.   Grief has swallowed me up.  I sit and relive every moment.  Memory after memory floods my foggy brain.  I dissect every decision made during your addiction.   I torture myself wondering what I missed.  What I should have done differently.   I have become my personal punching bag.

My life now lived in a thick fog.   My heart not allowing the truth to find my brain.  I don’t understand  how my heart can hurt so deeply and still beat.  Sleep is sporadic.   The couch has become my bed.  Ray must sleep.  I toss and turn and cry.   When sleep comes it’s short and sweet.  My reprieve from the reality of your death. Waking is punishment.  Every morning my grief lies in wait until I stir.  Opening my eyes allows a slice of reality in as I see your smiling face staring back at me.  Grief gut punches.  The cold slap of reality.  There are moments where I can briefly forget that you are gone.  Moments my brain protects my heart and I pretend you are busy.  You will call when you can.  I allow myself to think you are on the beach enjoying the warmth of the sun while I’m freezing in this cold.  Then the wave hits sucking my breath away and I crumble like the sandcastles we built by the sea.

My denial laughing at me.  Those books written by parents of addicts.  The one’s I though knew what they were talking about.  The one’s that became my bibles.  The one’s where their children lived have been transformed to an ashy mess burned on a dark, grief filled night.   Those books are full of lies.  Addiction does not always have a happy ending.

My heart remains shattered with no end in site.  The pain of losing you hurts so much more than the pain of bringing you into this world.   At least I knew when that pain ended I would hold my precious baby in my arms.  This pain has engulfed  my world and will never have an ending.

Memories of your childhood flood my brain.  My mind has become a movie projector.  Both good and bad flood my brain taking my breath away.   Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.  You and I would laugh dropping to the ground singing that song.  All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty back together again.   Call me Humpty.  Shattered beyond repair.

 

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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