Facing the reality and ending the stigma- OPIOD Crisis.

I hope this post finds you. I mean, I hope you read this entire post and it changes your perception of addiction. I hope you absorb the very real, harsh reality of our nations OPIOD epidemic. I am sure you have read seen some news reports? Headlines? Articles? Stories of the increasing epidemic of deaths due to overdose? I am pretty sure if you live in the USA, you’ve read that our nation is addicted and dying, steadily, alarmingly rising year after year. If not, I need to inform you. Let’s start with the Purdue Pharma company that I believe started this crisis. They invented the painkiller drug. They released it to the world. However, admitting and knowing that they withheld crucial information about their pain killing drug OxyContin. Oxycodone. (Painkillers). The Highly addictive Opiod was widely prescribed like “candy” to young kids and adults. The Sackler family – Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the makers of this deadly pill, admitted and confessed to their deadly sins. Yes, this family withheld crucial information and down played how highly addictive these medications were. They have admitted that fact. They knew this! But, kept pushing their painkiller. (Why are they not prosecuted to the full extent of the law?) I ask myself that daily. Fact: The Sackler family confesses and admits that they lied to the reps and pharm companies and medical doctors. They were drug pushers in white coats, a 10 billion dollar family empire was being built on their painkilling drugs. They misrepresented the drug, withheld the crucial TRUTH. If taken repeatedly, it is HIGHLY Addictive. In their greed and indifference to human life, they continually promoted the selling this HIGHLY addictive pain killer as NON addictive. In the lawsuits filed, they now take responsibility for withholding that information. That family single handedly has created our nations deadly opiod epidemic. The Sackler family & Purdue Pharma have filed for bankruptcy, Sept. 2019, due to multiple lawsuits. Here is a recent article;
( https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-16/purdue-pharma-seeks-bankruptcy-to-short-circuit-opioid-suits-k0luhox6). They stepped forward and at that time committed to funding treatment and recovery support for the addicted. A Day late? A dollar short? Seriously, Did they have a choice? Do they think that is enough? Will that wipe out the opiod epidemic now? No, the damage is already done. The epidemic doesn’t end because they close their chapter and bankrupt their pharmaceutical company. They stopped producing and selling their pills. Our government demanded that. Thousands of people are already dependent and addicted to opiates for years (some decades). Do you think the epidemic ended there? The reality is tragic. The addiction is so strong and intense. They add synthetic Fentanynol (a drug for terminally ill) to the drugs now. Statistics are 4 out of 5 addicts (pill addicts) go to street drugs, specifically, Heroin, to feed their addiction now. The deaths are staggering. Our country is in crisis. The Sackler family should read this. They should go to the Public NSC exhibit and absorb the reality there. The exhibit is eye opening. They are moving it all over the USA to bring awareness to this nationwide epidemic. Perhaps, the Sackler family can take a trip together and witness this exhibit. Then they should read every name that is entered into that data base. (23,000 DEATHS from opiod abuse and overdose).Please Note*** That number is ONLY the people that are registered, into that database there, in person. It also displays 2 connecting walls that are lined with pills, top to bottom. I stood in the middle and cried. What a single Oxy or Vicodin can lead to…Fact: Opiod deaths have surpassed the number of soldiers killed in Vietnam. Let that sink in.

How do I know all this? Our family was crushed, gutted & destroyed by Opiod addiction. I lost my 31 year old son, Michael to a Heroin/Fentynol overdose in 2016. I didn’t even know he took pills. He barely drank, Mikey was a foodie and a gamer. I still wake up someday’s and think this must be a nightmare??? Not my child? He never even abused drugs as a teen? How did this happen to HIM? Sadly, My healthy, vibrant son fell victim to opiod abuse. He had a work injury and was prescribed Vicodin. That is his story. He probably was quickly cut off by his doctor and could not get anymore refills. He was already (secretly) addicted. Statistics report that taking a prescribed opiate for more than 5 days, can result in some individuals forming a dependency or addiction. That may sound insane to some of us. I am here to tell you, plead to you, it happened to him. Within two years he was robbing, stealing and shooting heroin daily. He became a drug addict and desperate. The pills became scarce and street value skyrocketed to $30-$50 per pill! Quickly, He turned to Heroin. I still cringe at the thought of him shooting drugs. He was so “green”. He had no street smarts, no past drug history…. tragically, within 2 years, my son died from a Heroin/Fentyanol overdose. I slowly watched my son suffer and sink into addiction. Heroin ruled his brain, his world, his entire life. He lost everything. Friends, jobs, his newborn daughter. He sold everything for the drug. Then he stole everything for the drug. Michael hid it all from his family. The shame was far too great for him to deal or admit. When I broke into his room and found needles and a suboxeone script, I collapsed to the ground and howled. I knew that heroin would kill him. I felt it in my soul. We begged him to get help. He was always willing. He spent the last 2 years of his life in and out of multiple treatment centers. My son, tried consistently to get clean. Each time he stayed 28 days, detoxed, got clean, only to relapse over and over again. I watched addiction ravage his brain and body and eventually kill him. The monster was much bigger than us. Opiods have hi- jacked this nation. The addict will do anything to get numb. Until it effects you or your child or family directly you can’t relate. I hope you will never have to watch and witness a slow death from drug abuse. You can’t help but worry.. every single moment…will today be the day? We suffered along with him. I miss that vibrant, gorgeous, funny, healthy boy, every single day of my life. There is a large hole in our family, an empty chair, a life cut way too short by addiction. I rally and volunteer and I speak at jails, treatment centers and volunteer my time at sober homes. I give part of my heart to other addicts that are trying to get clean. I busy myself constantly with community service so I don’t sit and dwell on his tragic death. I say his name and honor the life he lived, before drugs. I found a loving, safe support group. (The beading hearts of Long Island) and I have found 100 other mommies that lost their child the same way. We meet weekly for support and we try and make a difference in our little communities. We call it the group, no one wants to be a member of. It’s every parents nightmare and now many live with guilt and shame and grief. That is the price you pay for such a deep love. I’ve heard that almost every person now knows someone who is struggling, addicted or has died because of an overdose. It has taken over five years for congress to acknowledge this increasing, alarming epidemic. Hundreds of parents banging on the steps of congress for help. We have to BEG our government to take steps, acknowledge insurance parameters and step up and save our sickand addicted nation. There is so much more to do. This is not going “away” anytime soon.

I wanted to share abit about my visit to the NSC exhibit at a mall in Nassau County, Long Island. A Dad, named Avi created this awareness memorial. He too lost his son to an overdose. His son Michael’s story is very similar to mine. We all lost, because of opiate addiction. The exhibit transports and moves and travels across the nation. It costs approx. $75,000 to keep it moving. I can’t put a price on honoring my son’s life. When I stood in the middle of the room of pills (22,000) pills with faces on them, ceiling to floor. I stood there and it hit me hard. My son is a statistic. He too, fell victim to opiod addiction and he died because of it. Avi posts a video. In it he says. I believe my son’s death could have been prevented. His son was readily over prescribed for many years. Doctors didn’t even blink on renewals. I see his point. The sad truth is. The addict lives in shame and guilt. Many live in denial and refuse help. Eventually, it rules their entire brain. It is hard for them to save themselves, to recover. They must save themselves! Lord knows we couldn’t. So awareness and stigma must go. We have to keep fighting. I know, I will never stop. I love my son and couldn’t “save” him, but, there are many others that are still sick and suffering. If you hold compassion in your heart, read about addiction and how it is a disease. I know it is hard for some people to understand it. If it was your kid, I bet you would.

Here is a link to the exhibit. I hope it stops near you someday. Don’t miss it. Support our future generations with Love and Compassion!

https://www.adweek.com/creativity/22000-faces-are-carved-into-pills-on-this-opioid-overdose-memorial/

Thank you for reading today and letting me share my heart and my loss. I don’t live in guilt or shame or seek pity. I am a strong mama bear, fighting for her cub. That’s what he called me… my son Michael…”Mama Bear” I can still hear him lovingly yell that to me. So, in honor of my beloved son Michael. I write this post and my body is filled with grief and loss. As time goes on, I embrace the most important thing of all. LOVE. That love never dies, it endures and it strengthens us all.

Peace

~leelee

In my gardens…. & closets…

Hey There! It’s Monday!!!, as I spring out of bed this morning. It’s still dark and the birds aren’t up chirping.. errr, extreme uhhh… VERY early morning. The funny thing is, I fell asleep on the couch last night super early and I slept well last night. Lately, I’ve had a few nights of broken sleeps. A neck crick, migraine, getting old sucks, it’s TRUE. Leelee was a tired buckaroo. Truth: I am a true lover of deep sleeps, long naps and all that jazz. So when I arise before the birds, I decide to seize the moment! Here’s The upside of my pre dawn awakenings… I get a lot of shit done. I mean like epic organizing projects. Cleaning out every closet, nook, storage rooms, clothes, you name it. Marie Kondo, I am making you proud. I will admit a few things. It does feel lighter around here with less “stuff”. I have been patient and diligent in decluttering my home of 23 years of accumulations and heirlooms and storage. Truth: I love junk. I always have. I call them my treasures. So, for a buck or two, I get crazy happy. It’s momentary. I’m aware and I’m ok with all of it. I am slowly learning to part with things that do not spark Joy… Thank you Marie. I am being gentle and also loving my cool donations and repurposing. We did a yard sale and apparently no one wants my “treasures”, oh well! lol. I have several non profit organizations and my church that benefit from donating usable items to them. This has given me comfort along the way, passing it on to someone who can use it. My world is calmer and less cluttered and hectic these days. I have learned to be truly in the moment. I drink it in. I allow peace and self love and deep meditation to guide me. Letting go of “objects” material items is a stepping stone. It is allowing me space to breathe and relax. I create beautiful gifts and displays and memory boxes with all my precious photos, momentos, favors from my daughters recent wedding. I’ve enjoyed this project so much. I am grateful and joyful for everything we shared together. It’s inspiring to once again collect beautiful moments.

My newest project is preserving/drying flowers. My crafty daughter preserved tons of her flowers and petals from her wedding. I also started to add flowers from my own gardens and enjoyed using them in various projects. My gardens were full of blooms and I found so much love and joy in saving them. Some flowers preserve and look fresh! That silicone is amazing stuff!

I snuck outside to pick the last of my tomatoes. The big blue jay bird has been stabbing them and nibbling the juice out of the red ripe ones! I am on to him and pick them a few days early and save them from his beak! They are super sweet and delicious. It reminds me of Italy…so darn good.

My sunflowers keep giving me sweet little gifts. I picked a bouquet for the house (sunset and brandywine varieties) and inside, I smile with love. Two little seeds…and 20 beautiful blooms. Thankful for the little things. God’s creations.

My Mom’s rose garden. We planted roses together there 10 years ago. I inherited a few from the previous owner. She told me that the wedding white rose was 100 years old & from her Grandfather. It blooms the most beautiful, pure white roses I’ve ever seen. The perfume pink blush rose… my Mom bought for me in Greenport. She gives me stunning pale pink clusters with the sweetest perfume, several times a year. It could be my favorite. The coral beauty, another gift from Mom is a beautiful coral color and it continues to bud in the fall. She has given me 100’s of stunning blooms this year. I’m blessed. I would even dare to say that perhaps my mother is around me there. I tend to them and pick bouquets and the love that radiates from my heart…it’s beautiful. Just like my Mom. One day, when I blog everyday, I will show my collection of photographs. I’ve taken so many over the years. Thank you Mom. I still collect the beautiful moments because of you mom, I miss you.

Lastly, I must mention my Hydrangea bushes. My obsession really. I purchased a few new Pee Gee bushes out on east end. The growers on the north fork are awesome. The newer ones are ombre like and totally magnificient. Blooming and doubling in size already. My most favorite is from my son Michael. A few years ago, he bought me two bushes for Mother's day. I planted them in the front garden bed. They have tripled in size and produce the most beautiful, purple, pink, blue flowers. I stare at them often. One of my most treasured gifts from him. I have clipped and dried many of his bouquets. I cherish them all. We planted a crepe myrtle after he died. It is slowly rooting and growing and thriving up north here. All of it in honor of our beloved son. I tend to them often. I gently sit there with him and cradle him in my heart and tell him how very much he is loved and missed. I find peace there among the flowers.

Tomorrow we turn the calendar to October. A beautiful, cool, autumn approaches and my bucket list awaits. I drag out the scarecrows, pumpkins and what not. Fall…brings change. The leaves, temperatures, colors, all change. Change. I choose to keep exploring and I roll with it and cherish each day. I am open and my heart is open and my garden gates are always open and in bloom. So get outside today. Plant a flower or a tree or a mum. Pick some pumpkins and let the sunshine warm your soul. I'll be in my gardens filling up mine.

Peace*

~leelee

So… it’s been a minute!

Ummmm… Well! Hello Blog land! Oh, I have been admiring you from afar. Waiting for the moment that I can stop and write. Truth is, I read a whole bunch of blogs and busy my mornings with exploring the podcast world. I think I am missing out on sharing my heart, hope & adventures! I should SO be starting my own podcast. I mean, seriously, I can talk and talk about anything & everything. I have a lot to share & I must look further into this! I hope this post finds you smiling. A beautiful, dreamy summer on Long Island. I never want them to end. But, secretly our Autumn/Fall is just as spectacular. A cool breeze & cooler temps snuck up and I heard and saw 100 school buses around town yesterday. The routine, the grind, has returned. I love glancing at the first day of school pics and smiling parents. Memories, they always float back. Just the other day, I passed my sons elementary school and remembered the funniest, sweetest memory. His class was presenting their laminated fathers day project to their class and the parents. Michael was in first grade, maybe 5 years old. His project was a large 11×14 poster that read “Me & My Dad LOVE to shoot off fireworks”. I remember, being stunned. What will the other parents think??? He drew a tiny little picture of him and his Dad lighting off a firework! I still giggle when I think of his honesty and totally, innocently bragging about his irresponsible Dad’s hobby. Priceless.

And now.. some much needed overdue Catch Up!:

Beautiful moments: So…. A couple of weeks ago, another bucket list & my lifelong dream happened. My daughter flew home from Madrid and we hosted a beautiful, elegant wedding and reception for our families. A picture perfect wedding day, brilliant sunshine & breezes and 100 of our family & friends gathered to celebrate her love. The food & drinks & laughter….simply amazing. I glided through the day, with Joy in my heart and watching her sparkle. I had a few private, special moments and stared at her flawless beauty. Watching my baby girl grow, blossom, fall in love….& relocate & live her new life married! to say the least… is very humbling. She was so calm and graceful. My little girl and a grown woman in one. She is living proof that life indeed moves forward. She propels us forward and shows us the light, here, now in the present. Life… indeed, it marches on fiercely. Our only daughter. I dreamed of giving you a fairytale wedding. I prayed you would meet a kind, gentle, loving soul & mate. I wrote a speech for her. I wrote from my heart. A heart that now holds a grateful space. A heart that was once shattered and bleeding…broke into a million pieces…that is mending, gently healing and compelled to still love & give. My journey through grief and rebuilding my new life. In my letter, I shared my dreams with her. I spoke about her brother smiling down and so happy for her. I dreamed of him several times that week. I missed him immensely as well. I had a few moments, missing my granddaughter, missing my son, my parents. I’ve learned how to honor them and connect to them in my spiritual, meditative practices. I do it often and I find my peace within. It’s a practice and there is no end game, just survival.

The day after her wedding, my daughter was feeling a rush of emotions. All that planning, effort, worry, details! Details! Stress & Anxiety…lalala! And of course Poof, & it’s all over so fast. It all went off splendidly. She sits on my chaise and shares her heart and then she says… I missed Mikey.. and I said quietly, I missed him too. We all have our sorrow and crosses to bear. It’s nice to hear that someone is thinking of him and loving him still….Grief is hard. It’s imperative that you talk about it, cry about it and honor them daily.

She has returned to Spain. I am teary for a few days…empty nest and all. I have returned to my gardens and Yoga and following butterflies and photographing the sheer beauty of Long Island. I love to volunteer and craft these days…I write a lot. My first book is almost finished. The next chapter of my life begins to unfold. I am excited and apprehensive at the same time. So unpredictable.. yet, it is nice to embrace “more”.

I am happy to have celebrated this beautiful couple. May they continue to explore the world, and love each other no matter what. The last thing I told them was to practice PATIENCE….it goes along way.

Nice to check in and catch up with ya’ll. I am off to tend to my gardens and flowers.

Ciao

Leelee

Return to sender….

Where do I begin? Easy and gently. That is where I’ve lived for the past 6 months. Inside my head, at least. I focus on being soft, loving, self compassionate, centering, meditative state of mind. Working through grief takes time. As much time that you need to process and accept. So, my unplanned sabbatical from blogging just happened. My journey, my shift, my new life needed time to root and I needed to sit in my new place for awhile and figure it out. Rolling with the punches as they say. Btw, it’s totally OK to get off the roller coaster for awhile. It’s ok to check out and heal the heart and find what is good for your soul. It’s ok to take time away from everything and everyone and figure it out. I’m so glad I did. I passionately threw myself into volunteer work, support groups, grief and wellness therapy, salt caves & meditations. Church and finding peace and gratitude. All good stuff. All deeply needed to heal a grieving heart and to learn how to again light up my soul. During this “shift”, a few things happened. I lost my job a few months back in sales. It stung for a short time and I let it go. It was my most successful year in sales history for me. (shakes pompom), and I was riding that high from chasing money. We learn that money is just what it is; a means to survive and prosper. I remember that I skipped to my car, shocked and elated at the same time. I dreamed of the next year jobless! How dare I? How could I? It’s a fortune to live on this island! Who do I think I am??? But, I immediately noticed a peaceful, grateful heart lay beneath the almighty dollar. I felt, that maybe I could do things that I pushed aside. Reading, Netflix!, painting furniture!, Oh, AND organzing (Thanks be to Marie Kondo) you helped me burn off major anxiety for weeks! Oh gosh, my love for organization! New Books, podcasts!, documentaries.. the list is endless. THe most important one on the list is…. time… time for me. Me,! Leelee! seriously, what is that? Free to Travel, dream, cry, lay out, walk the shore, hike the woods! Most importantly, me and my writing. I had a list of 1000 things I dreamed of doing! #1 was, Writing my book. Telling my story. I stared at the blank page. I gave myself permission to write. To stand up and share my journey through grief. To be raw and honest about surviving a death by suicide and losing my child to Opiod addiction. I was told by everyone I met, write your book. Tell your very real, powerful, healing & very honest story of substance abuse and suicide. You can help others. I had volumes written in my head. I have dozens of journals that held my deepest grief and secrets. My journaling was my safe place to pour out my pain. It always has been my saving grace. So, I am gifting myself this time to write it. I am 500 pages or so in.. it’s coming, its happening. The most incredible gift is by me writing, my words, my truth, my journey and my spiritual growth.. sharing me with you.. I began to witness that my soul is healing with each page I pen. So painful at first… then the healing begins and transforms you and I slowly find my peace and my center again. I keep reminding myself this one thing. If your book helps 1 survivor, you win. You make a difference. You live another day. So there is my legit excuse for not blogging or writing here.
Also,

A few other things happened…

So, like, my daughter fell in love & then they moved to Madrid! Yup, I know! She will Soon have a big church wedding to a lovely man in Italy. So, THATS Happening!! My bucket list & dream of visiting Italy has arrived! I credit my beautiful daughter for having the courage to fall in love. for taking a chance, for moving across the world and creating a loving, safe relationship and life with a kind sweet loving man. They will marry in his hometown, near Rome and we will join them there and celebrate them & their love with
JOY in our hearts. Love does heal. Our baby girl always, She is hope in a twinkly jar. She is my childhood dream, having a daughter to love & cherish. Her happiness and new life reminds me everyday that Love evolves and moves us forward. I genuinely look forward to celebrating her love & wedding.

reflections of you ~

Time moves us forward
life continues to march on
I sit and think of you above us
asking you to watch over her.

Our Love is present
even though you are not
Silent tears run softly
my heart whispers I miss you A lot
My soul knows you hear me

<3