A Story of Addiction & Loss

Tag: life after loss

A Can of Beef A Roni and So Much More


Never in a million years did I ever think I would find myself falling apart in the pasta aisle of my local grocery store after seeing a can of Beef A Roni. The gut wrenching, hit my heart hard, kind of pain left me holding onto my cart telling myself to breathe. Tears running down my face like a hose stuck in the on position with no hope of being turned off. Oh God, I think, how am I ever going to survive the rest of my life if can’t even make it through the grocery store without a major meltdown. Seeing that can and feeling those feelings has become a part of my new life. The life I never saw coming or signed up for.

Beef A Roni was my youngest son, Matt’s favorite food. I would stock up at the ten for $10 sale and hurry home to stuff his weekly care package with all his favorite foods. Sending them off with a piece of my heart to the half way house he lived in a thousand miles away from home. A can of Beef A Roni, a connection to my son who is no more.

Then there is the scent of Phoenix. This was his smell. I can still hear his voice, “Hey Mom, can you pick me up my deodorant, I’m running low”. I’ve found myself in this same store walking to the deodorant aisle and finding that familiar blue can. I remove the lid and spray a tiny bit. Closing my eyes taking a deep breath I let my mind drift back to happier times. This is what my life has become. Finding pieces of my son in everyday places trying to keep our connection alive.

I once felt that being the mother of a son suffering from addiction was the worst thing that ever happened to my life. That constant feeling of helplessness and anxiety ruled my mind. I compared his addiction to being trapped on a very fast, very high roller coaster with many twists and turns. Never knowing what each day would bring, what was coming or how some days would end.

Mothers of addicts learn to live with the crazy unpredictability that goes hand in hand with the disease of addiction. We learn to expect the unexpected and we relish the thought of a possible period of recovery. Matts addiction became mine as I held onto the roller coaster for dear life. Praying for things to somehow calm down and allow us both a little piece of normal. I’ve since learned that being the mother of an addict who suffered an accidental overdose is waking up and finding the nightmare you feared the most has now become your reality.

Be careful what you pray for they say. I prayed for peace, I prayed for quiet, I prayed for his addiction to go away. My prayers have been answered but never in the way I imagined. I now struggle to survive in this all too quiet, empty new world. I long for the days of chaos. Riding the uncertainty on the roller coaster known as addiction now feels like a walk in the park compared to being the one left behind.

Learning to navigate through my grief is a daily process. I’m now the lone rider on a different coaster. This one mimics the other but now the ups and downs belong solely to me. There are days I wake up, shed my tears, pray for strength and somehow get through. There are days the darkness overrides my heart and I crawl through my brokenness as if it is surrounded by shards of glass. Each piercing my heart with knifelike accuracy.

For now I take it one day at a time. I pray that someday that can of Beefaroni or the scent of Phoenix will warm my heart not break it. Reminding me of the connection between a mother and her son that neither time nor space can break. For now I pray for understanding and strength as I continue to put one foot in front of the other attempting to navigate my new unchartered life without my son.

I know I will never return to the person I once was. Going back to that person is not an option. She vanished when my son died. Gone with his last breath. My grief path is my own. It’s rocky and full of broken pieces of a life that used to be. I tread lightly on days I can. I crawl through the glass on days when the pain kills and I question my survival. My grief has no finish line. It’s one day, one breath, one scream at a time. My grief is the best I can do. Navigating this path is the most painful thing I’ve ever had to do. One thing I know for sure is I’m not ok. I will never be ok. And for me that just has to be ok…….

Fighting My Way Through The Fog



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.


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