A Story of Addiction & Loss

Author: MaryBeth Cichocki (Page 1 of 38)

Father’s Day Dreaming

Matt,  Today is Father’s Day and even though you didn’t live long enough to become a father I still wonder what it would have been like if you had.

You were such an amazing Uncle to your brother’s daughter it often makes me wonder how loving a father you would have been to your own children. 

I also wonder if fatherhood was my dream for you.   If marriage and babies were my dream and not yours.  You had so many opportunities to marry, but you continued to stall your relationships.  You were so loved but you continually decided to remain single.

When I think of you on days like this, I imagine how wonderful it would have been to see you holding your firstborn child.  How watching you look into the face of a life you created would have left a lifelong imprint on your heart  and mine.  How watching you hold a toddlers hand as you introduced him to the sea you loved so much or taking your daughter to pick out her first puppy would have been a beautiful gift we could have shared.  

I think of you walking in my door with towhead mini you’s yelling Mom we’re here.  I close my eyes and imagine the joy of hugging little versions of you in my arms.  How wonderful life would have been if my dreams for you came true.  If life would have taken the road I had planned on, not the road that led to this empty space in my heart.  

Sadly, reality leaves my dreams all I have as I think of the what ifs on Father’s Day.  You will never know the joy of loving someone with your entire heart and soul.  You were robbed of the absolute joy of watching your child grow and change year after year.   You were robbed of tee ball games, of birthdays, of boyfriends and girlfriends.  You were robbed of walking your daughter down the aisle or toasting your son on his wedding day.  

Oh Matt, your addiction stole so much from us both and now all I have to hold on to is  my fantasy of a family and a future that was never to be.  It all died with you my beautiful boy.  

 

 

Beautifully Bittersweet

Matt,   When I learned the circumstances of your death, I knew I could never stay silent.   What I really wanted to do was fly to Florida and punch the owner of your shoddy sober home in the face.  I wanted him to hear your name and see the face of your grieving mother and then I wanted to tell him what he told me, “People die here everyday.”   I wanted to look him in his eyes and say well, well, today is your day.  

I can’t put into words what that information did to my soul, but it fueled me into months of research of how sober homes operated.   Months and months of research speaking to advocates from many states sadly revealed that dumping people who have relapsed into the street in the middle of the night with no available help or support was common practice.   Learning this I knew I would never find my peace until laws were passed to protect people at a vulnerable time in their lives.   This became my mission.   These people became my Matt’s.

I became obsessed with this project.  The more I researched, the angrier I became.  To think many sober home operators used people suffering from Substance use as a means of disposable income fueled my desire to put a stop to this evil practice.   How dare anyone treat a human life as it was disposable.   It happened to you and I have to live with that every day.   The only way to find peace was to punish the people responsible.

After I had a folder thick as a phone book containing all the research on sober homes, I called my House Representative.  I asked her to meet for coffee.  When I showed her the folder and shared your story I could see the disgust in her eyes.   Her words were music to my ears.   “We Will Fix This,” became our battle cry.

After almost 5 years of advocating and fighting to get this Bill right, riding the roller coaster from happiness to disappointment, through many challenges and changes HB 114, The Matthew D. Klosowski Act was passed unanimously in both the House and Senate on the very last day of the 2023 Legislative session.   You my beautiful boy were the catalyst that will change the trajectory of how sober homes will be allowed to operate in our state of Delaware forever.

Last week, we were honored as the First State Alliance of Recovery Residences had their certification kick off as they certified a home for women in recovery.   Oh how I wish I could have shared that moment with you.   Senators and House Members were saying your name and sharing your story.   Congratulating me for fighting for so long to get this dream of mine to become a reality.   There will be no more treating people as if their lives didn’t matter.   No more kicking people out in the street to die.   

We were given an award.   Honoring us both.   I fought hard to hold back the tears as I spoke to the crowd.  Oh how I wished it was your face I was seeing among so many people who came to attend the ceremony.   I hope you were there.  I hope you felt my love for you souring through the sky from my heart to yours.   I hope you know how much you are loved and missed.   How time has not made a difference in the void in my heart.  

I can assure you this my beautiful boy,  you have a legacy that will stand the test of time.  Your name is forever in the Law books in our state of Delaware.   One hundred years from now people will look up HB 114 and see your name.   Your story and how your death was not in vain.   How your death fueled my grief to find a little slice of beauty from the brokenness you left behind.   Godspeed until I hold you in my arms, you are forever in my heart.   

 

 

Some Days

Matt,  I really don’t know what brings on this deep feeling of loss.  Some days I feel like I’m doing ok, then boom a memory will hit and then I’m gone.  

Erin got married last weekend.  She had a memorial table set up with pictures of all our family members who are no longer here.  Seeing your smiling face staring back at me was like a cold slap of reality, acknowledging that I would never dance at your wedding.  
I tried to hide my tears, but I was powerless.  

I kept thinking what a blast you would have had with Tommy, Mel’s boyfriend.  He has your same sense of humor.  Your quick wit and mannerisms.  As I watched them interact I kept wondering what it would have been like to have you there dancing and laughing together. 

I remembered you being the best man at your brother’s wedding. You raising your glass in a toast that had everyone cracking up.  You on the dance floor with all the single girls.  

I felt like I was in two different worlds.  The one where you existed and this broken world where you do not.  
These family events are always bittersweet.  Reminding me of what could have been but no longer is.  Even though years have passed, your loss is as fresh as it was the moment I heard you left me behind.  

Joy is intermingled with the pain of your absence.  I’ve learned life goes on.  People live their lives.  But one thing I know for certain is I will carry you in my heart forever….

Thinking About Mary

 


Matt,  today is Holy Saturday.  I went to your garden at church to visit and to plant some flowers.  The cross is draped in a purple sash that was blowing in the wind.  

I filled both bird feeders then sat on the bench and watched as the garden sprang to life.  The sounds of birds chirping filled the air and made me think that even though this garden represents your death life continues around the cross. 

As I continued to sit there and talk to you and Jesus, I started to think about Mary.  The stone in the garden represents your death but the massive cross represents the death of Jesus.  I wondered how horrible it must have been for her to have no idea why the man she raised from an innocent infant was being beaten.  She had no clue what was happening or why the crowds were shouting for her son to be crucified.  

Mary was helpless in stopping his death as I was helpless in stopping yours.  I can’t imagine the horror she felt as she watched the story unfold from the distance.  Never once allowing Jesus to be out of her sight.  Oh how her heart must have broken with every strike to Jesus’s body.  How her eyes could not believe what she was seeing.  Her precious son was being hung from a cross.  

The baby she nursed as an infant.  The toddler whose hand she held.  Now a grown man being brutally abused right before her eyes.  
I didn’t know how she had the courage to watch as her son took his last breath.  The confusion that must have been running through her mind as her heart was ripped out of her chest.  

As I continued to sit in the peace of your garden I felt a deep connection to Mary.  She knows my grief. She felt that pain years before I had any clue that I too would lose a son.  Your death was slow as the drugs took you further and further away.  I shared her helplessness in having no power to stop it.  I share her pain and sadness as you left this earth leaving me behind to pick up the pieces of what I expected life to be.  

The story of Lent is all about Jesus, his crucifixion and resurrection.  Today I thought about his mother, Mary.  How she grieved her son as I grieve you.  

 

WAVES

Matt,  I spent two weeks in Florida, it was both beautiful and bittersweet.  Since your death I look at everything differently.  Walking on the beach one day watching the waves I realized how those waves mimic the waves of grief.  

I wrote this piece putting my thoughts into words………..

After losing Matt, I look at life differently. As if I see simple things that are very familiar but now my lense has shifted and I see them in a different light..
I never found a connection to ocean waves. They were something to run from, jump through or ride until they dissipated hitting the shore.

Today as I walked on the beach I found myself focusing on how they remind me so much of grief. Their sizes vary. Some are small, with little power to knock you to your knees. These waves hit daily and I can easily navigate my way through. They hit during a song or as a memory surfaces. They find me in the grocery store when I see a can of Beef A Roni knowing I have no need to buy again and send in a care package to Florida. These waves cause me to stop, telling myself to breathe that the tightness in my throat will pass.

The size of waves are constantly changing. We see them building on the horizon. As birthdays and anniversaries are approaching these waves are a churning power ready to drag us to our knees. These are the waves that hit without warning. When I think I can get through. That I’m walking on stable ground undermining how the waves suck the shore from beneath my feet reminding me that no ground is stable when those waves are hitting.

As I continued to watch the sea in its constant motion, my attention focused on those huge waves churning and crashing in the distance. Those waves are the killers. The ones that bring us to our knees, fighting for air, fighting to survive the sensation of being sucked under and powerless to surface in time. Those waves come when reality hits and we realize they are really not coming back. There are no more love you Mom, see you laters, texts or phone calls. When ordinary pictures become precious treasures that we guard with our lives. Those are the what if waves, the how did this happen waves, this is now life waves…..

Those are the waves I’ve learned I cannot fight. I need to survive however I can. I’ve learned the harder I fight the more powerful the waves become. I realize I’m drowning and I need to let it happen. I need to allow that hopeless
feeling to wash over me. I need to scream, to sob, to let my grief wash over me as the ocean pounds the shore until I am spent, allowing myself to surface,to float, to breathe.

Before loss, those waves were just how the ocean was churning that day. I found them calming and beautiful. Never in all my days of walking on the beach did I ever identify with how terrifying and relentless a simple wave could become as you walk the path of grief…….

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