This Christmas, my family’s only joy was in finding out that my baby brother was still alive. He was nowhere to be found for my first few days home from Australia. After being kicked out of his sober living house, he was left on the streets to overdose and had a seizure leaving him close to death. The first time I’d seen him in two years, was spent visiting him in rehab on Christmas Day.Today is his 22nd birthday; one I wasn’t sure he’d ever see. He is happy, healthy, and so full of life. I could not be prouder of the man and father he is becoming.
A few years ago, I wrote an ode to my brother, telling him, it’s never too late. Recently, my mother wrote him a raw, heartfelt letter on how his addiction has impacted her life. She is allowing me to share and bring hope to those with loved ones suffering, to know they are not in this alone.
My beautiful son,
I have lived with the impact of your drug use for over six years. During that time, you have stolen from me, stolen from your sisters,step-father, other family members and friends. You stole the first gift my husband ever gave me (a bracelet), my wedding silverware, your step-father’s coins from his passed father, your sisters’ birthday card money from their grandmother, my personal and work credit cards, to name a few. You sold the laptop and cell phones I gave you, time and time again. You trashed the brand new car I gave you and let your drug dealer drive that car (that is registered in my good name).You have disrespected our home by punching holes in walls, leaving your room full of trash & dishes, and put our home at risk by smoking in it, burning holes in sheets, blankets, comforters & mattresses.
I have been through the school suspensions, expulsions, lawyers and court hearings. You put my husband in jail, and cost us time we will never get back and thousands of dollars to clear his good name.
I have missed countless days of work. I have spent hours calling friends to find you, driving in shady neighborhoods looking for you, going to pawn shops in bad neighborhoods by myself to retrieve our belongings. I have spent hundreds of sleepless nights worrying about you, crying myself sick, wondering if you would be alive when I woke up, praying to God not take you, for you not to leave me.I have spent thousands of dollars on your treatment, suboxone, detox, rehab, sober living, not to mention gasoline, grocery cards and cigarettes. And Levi’s, coats and other clothes that you have turned around and sold. I missed the last two Christmas’s with you, Thanksgivings, Mother’s Days, Birthdays, family vacations.
I pay your child support for your son, not because I don’t want you to go in arrears but because I don’t want my grandchild to be without.
(I never thought I would admit this, but I need to … I am haunted by the day I took you to get heroin in exchange for you agreeing to go to rehab; what if it would have been your last day?) I used to be so afraid of you being homeless or going to jail, now I think it would have been the best thing that ever happened to you.Your drug use has made me sad, afraid, anxious, hopeless. Sometimes I try to prepare myself for your death. Try to imagine my life, like my two sisters, without my only son, my grandbabies without their father, your sisters without their brother, your grandmother experiencing the tragedy yet again. When I see you using, I feel despair, when I see you healthy, you light up my life.You continue to be the last thing I think about before going to sleep and the first thing I think about when I wake up. You are in my thoughts continuously. I want for you what I have, what your sisters have. I want you to be happy, I want you to be healthy, I want you to have a challenging career, I want you to have passion, I want you to be able to travel, I want you to have the full family life that I know you want. You are smart, you are talented, you are lucky, and it’s not too late. You can be happy, you can be healthy, you can be satisfied, you can play ball with your boys and take them to the zoo, you can be there for them. If you would only believe in yourself half as much as I believe in you, you could do this.
I love you always.
Your adoring but exhausted Momma
(Our nightmare began sometime around the summer of 2009 when my then 15 year old son was arrested for possession of marijuana while walking in a Hilliard neighborhood. He went to Maryhaven’s Juvenile Underage Drug Program and began being treated by our PCP for anxiety and depression.
The next year my daughter started telling me people were talking about heroin, but I never believed it could be my son. But I soon found out that heroin does not discriminate, his upbringing and opportunities did not make him immune. By 2011 he had been expelled from school for possession after paraphernalia was found in his car during a random search. He had been through an 8 week IOP and began being treated with Suboxone by our PCP. He went back to school but was expelled again for possession of marijuana (3 seeds in the backseat of his car) in 2012, when he should have graduated.
In 2012 he spent 21 days inpatient at Fairbanks Recovery Center. He got out and within months was back inpatient at Dublin Springs, and again in 2013 and twice in 2014. At some point during those years, his father, my ex-husband, stopped having anything to do with him. His son was born on Christmas day 2013, that is the last Christmas I had with him.I finally had to kick him out of the house last summer. He has since been to Woods at Parkside three times, a Recovery Center in Florida for eight weeks, and this year, a recovery center in Ohio for six weeks. He is currently living in a sober living environment, doing well and working for the recovery center. He never made it back to high school but got his GED last year in the midst of relapses and recovery.
He just had his second child and finally seems committed, with a maturity, discipline and faith that I have never seen before. I continue to pray, hope, and beg. I will never give up, I will never let go.
Al, bubba, herbie, I love you but hate you for the pain you have put our family through. Mom and I will never give up hope for you. Keep fighting this battle until the very end, you’ve still got a whole lot of living left to do.