So, it’s been a hot minute…my last post around November of 16′. I agonized, dreaded, contemplated, thought…How am I going to “blog” openly again? Post this? Share this?….all of it overwhelming, complicated and scary to pen, to share.. But, alas, something inside me, knew I would share my truth, my loss, and in doing so, I was told, I will be able to start to help and heal others that have suffered a complicated and very traumatic death. So here I am. I searched for my blog here…and wondered, did my daughter renew my domain? She asked me some months ago?…Do you still want your blog Mom? Of course! I texted back in 2 nano seconds. I will always have a need and this as an outlet, a passion, a dream, my innermost thoughts. These are exclusively “lee lee moments” & honestly, I will always write. And I do..and I have, and I continue to write, just not so much here. Why? you may ask? Why, don’t you write here. Well, I will share why.
It is with a heavy heart, a grieving mother’s heart, that I share this with you today. I am compelled to speak my truth and my horror here…I sincerely believe in penning these words, only then, can I free myself and begin the process of healing and grieving….one day at a time.
I, we lost my only son Michael, 31 years old, to a heroin overdose on 12/24/16. He died from an acute Fentyanol overdose on Christmas Eve. There. I . Shared. it.
I don’t know where to start, to begin, or quite how to end. But, sadly, tragically, my 31 year old beautiful, loving boy died. I slowly type out the words, so they sound appropriate and well thought and sensitive. I slowly let my fingers type out the reality and I sit with a lump and a pain in my chest. How can I share this devastating news with my readers? What if I choose to silence my grief and my confusion. Will that make it go away? Will it soften the pain in my soul? I think not. Actually, I think just the opposite. I waited till I could breathe again, think again, and put my thoughts and heart in some type of relative order. I waited till I had the courage to speak of my loss, again.
Some readers, may recall, I lost my brother Thomas to suicide on 1/7/14. He was 55 years old and shot himself and died on a freezing cold morning. The pain and the trauma we suffered is nothing like I had ever experienced. I never thought my brother would take his own life, never. The pain of losing him to suicide was so unreal, surreal, I spent the last 2 years in support groups and therapy. I slowly started to understand mental illness, and I slowly was beginning to heal from him dying. I thought…somehow, I can slowly recover, slowly accept and ever so slowly heal from his painful & traumatic death. I believe I was, healing that is, accepting my grief and sadness. I wrote a lot about Tom here. I wrote about his 5 children, wife, my family, my pain and anguish. I wrote a lot about missing him, I still do, miss him, ….and then, in the midst of my grief, shortly after Tom’s suicide, I discovered a dirty little secret. Living in my basement, with a girl he was to marry and have a child with… I discovered my son was painstakingly hiding a secret addiction. A man who (from what I know and witnessed) never had an addiction, never really liked drugs or even alcohol. He, my son, I thought, I assumed all along was lucky, he was spared and surpassed any “addictions”. I swear, I recall thanking God, many, many times, that my children were intact. Blessed and relieved daily, that neither had strayed or been persuaded to abuse any substance. I felt, I was a really lucky Mom, and I would often pray and give thanks that they were healthy, and well, “somewhat normal”. To be completely honest, I never thought my son would become a heroin addict, Ever. Sadly, I never even entertained that my child could or would die from it. The sad truth is, he did. My son died from the disease of addiction.
So, I sit here before work, contemplating how to share and send this. How to deal and not be ashamed or dissuaded to lie or fabricate any of it. My son, spent the last 2.5 years of his life, hiding his addiction from me. Well, from all of us here. You see, his shame, guilt and dependence made him even more sick. I remember the 12 step meetings saying…You are as sick as your secrets. I so can relate to that slogan, forevermore I will.
My son’s story…his reason, his ultimate demise…goes like this: He claims, after he got addicted to pain killers, prescribed pain pills…. (Vicodin/Oxy) prescribed by a doctor for an injury at work. I can trace it back to an altercation at an old job he held. A patient went ballistic and slammed him to the ground. He suffered a shoulder injury. I remember he healed well, no surgery was needed at that time… I don’t even recall him taking pills at that time. He lived in an apartment in our house. The rest is history I guess. My son quickly found the silent killer…Opiates.
So, honestly, if I blink and fast forward two years or so. My brother dies suddenly. My granddaughter is born a week before that, and like a blur, my son is thrust into a new relationship, a pregnancy, and a new baby. Yes, that quick. I am cautious, concerned, but praying he finds his way. Praying he is truly in love and can handle this responsibility and new life? I am confused. He had just gotten into the electrical union and I was hoping he could handle all of it. My son, always suffered from ADHD. He was a hyper kid, definitely had some impulsive tendencies, definitely had difficulty focusing and sticking to it. Well, I believe in my heart, his disability just increased his addiction 10 fold. In other words, his brain, could not handle the intensity of a drug, the most powerful drug of them all, Heroin.
His baby was born healthy. We all celebrated and embraced this beautiful little baby girl, Anna Lisa. He pretended to be in control, and very very, quickly, he was losing control, sinking so fast into heroin, that he had no control over his addiction. I come to find out, they both were heroin addicts. Abruptly, his girlfriend fled our home with her baby at 10 weeks old. Honestly, the rest is sort of a blur, but not really. We seek help, we put him in rehabs, detox’s, meetings, we put him on the street. In homeless shelters, in jail, you name it, Michael was suffering. We were suffering. Heroin was ruling his brain, his body, his heart. it was destroying all of us, daily. He called me Mamabear, that is my nickname from my son. This Mamabear was determined, desperate, I would have sold my soul to the devil himself. I really wasn’t aware, that Heroin would become the devil in our home. It imprisoned his mind, his thoughts, his body, it was painful to watch him slowly unravel and slowly start to die. We were in a fight to save his life. This beautiful man, was dying before our eyes. Oh, yes, we tried to “help”, to stop, beg, connive, threaten, carry, enable, disable, tough love, soft love, crazy love….none of it was working. He would come out and relapse multiple times, hiding it every single moment. It was a horror, a nightmare. I would have given my arms, legs, anything to get him clean. I just couldn’t keep him sober. I sought help and support for parents who are suffering and living with an addict. I was in new terrain, unknown waters, but I wanted desperately to find the magic word, the one thing that would jolt him back to reality. His last stint was out east in West Hampton, he had been to 10 different facilities, all 12 step based programs. Everyone, loved, adored Michael. The addicts and counselors, easily attached to him, couldn’t believe this beautiful man was struggling with his addiction. encouraging him to attend outpatient treatment. This last time he went to a sober house. Monitored and structured. He wound up in the same town he bought his drugs in. Well, you probably know what happened. He tried his best, each and every time. He wanted so very desperately to erase his truth, his secret and be “normal” again. I want my old life back! I said, you can have it all back, one day at a time. Michael relapsed around his birthday in November, he said, his pain, drove him to use, after all, it was his murdered friends anniversary, ya know, addicts, any excuse. I get it. That’s what they do!
He decided he would leave Long Island , a new start,and chase his new girlfriend around up in Maine. I remember him telling me he was going to move to Portland. I said… Portland? Oregon? Why? is there a new facility there??.. silly me. No, Ma, ummm, Portland Maine.. where his girl was living in a sober house for 9 months. Ahhhh, my son, never without a girl, a babysitter, a lover, he was determined. Again, the ADD, kid, impulsive man, was used to getting his way, and refused to do it any other way…me, well, I wasn’t so convinced. He lived home for a couple weeks. He was physically sick. His health was starting to fail, his body, his mind, his teeth, yet he had insurance, but could not function very well and take care of himself. I think he was actually clean, because he had to be clean to enter a sober home. He was white knuckling his addiction everyday. He counted the days till he could convince his Dad to lay out more money for rent at a sober house. I remember his Dad and I arguing over yet another plan, escape. His Dad said.. well, do you want him to remain here in the basement? Or perhaps TRY a fresh start there? He was gone on a Saturday….I packed a big lunch, I remember running outside and giving him a container of sauce and meatballs….I remember him smiling at me kindly and lovingly. Be careful, I always told him.. NO MATTER WHAT…if you are in trouble, in need, CALL ME 24/7. Keep in touch! Don’t flake on me, I worry so much. I will Mama.. I love you… he packed all his momentos and clothes. He sold everything and anything of value, he packed and took everything that meant something to him…& we hugged, I had a huge lump in my throat. My gut didn’t feel “right”.. but then again, for 2 years, it hadn’t felt right, not ever. They drove away, slowly…I remember praying, please keep him safe. That was the last time I saw my beautiful boys face. 3 weeks later, my son, travelling to see my in laws for Christmas dinner, decided to buy some random “heroin” off the streets of Portland. He died a few hours after he arrived at their home. My sister in law found him, hours later, dead from an apparent overdose. At 9:36 a.m., she called me on Christmas Eve. Her voice sounded shakey…& upset, sad. First thought.. Oh No, my mother in law is sick or died. I said.. Is everything OK? Hello? She said.. No…it’s not ok. I remember her saying.. he’s gone, Michael is gone. I said, is this a JOKE?…she said, no, it is not, he is gone. My son died next to my mother in laws bedroom around 3am. They found a needle on the dresser. A track mark on his arm. He died from an overdose. I don’t have a lot of details, I wasn’t there. She did tell me, she held him and rocked him. She did tell me, he was gone. There is my nightmare, my biggest fear, a mother’s worst thought & that dreaded phone call. My boy succumbed to his addiction and none of us could stop or save him. The world darkened. My light, his light dimmed and I was in a state of shock. Suddenly, Christmas meant absolutely nothing. In an instant, my whole world, our life, here, would never ever be the same. Heroin won and stole my son. ….tragically. He, our beautiful 31 year old son, is now a statistic in this crazy insane epidemic, Opiate addiction. I’ve studied it, followed my community stats, and shared articles with him, showing him daily, how it was killing our youth daily. I remember many conversations about getting “clean” and relapsing, only to o’d from it instantly. The body heals and the drug leaves your bloodstream, the moment you decide to use again, the risk is very fatal. He promised me.. MOM! I am not stupid, I would never shoot it after I am clean. Truth is..my gut told me, he might, or better yet, he was impulsive and would forget. I believe, with all my heart, his one second lapse in judgment, his one fatal mistake, took him swiftly. I also know, he bought the dreaded bag of bad heroin. Truth is, there was NO heroin in it, just poison, just pure Fentyanol. My sick, addicted, beautiful son, from what I am told. Never felt a thing. He just fell asleep and his heart stopped. He was gone for hours before anyone found him. God, I wish I could have held him, kissed him, comforted him. I will wish that forever. I will suffer here, without him near us, sick or not, addicted or clean. A loss of a child, it does not go “away”. It remains deep in my soul. I grieve everyday, and I work and immerse myself in self help, support groups, meditation, anything to escape the pain of losing my boy. I surrender everyday, like I was forced to surrender to addiction. I can’t even write how much I hate heroin. I can’t express how I know, thousands of people are addicted, & suffering and dying on a daily basis. I can tell you the nurses in these rehabs and detox’s, say it is almost impossible to get off this $5 for a bag drug. 1% of IV users are able to stay clean. I believe that The hospitals have waiting lists, months long. The stories of overdose, and relapse are astounding. Congress knows, Trump knows, Albany knows…but honestly, The Mexican drug cartel is WINNING. Never mind the rhetoric about immigrants being deported. Mexico is shipping deadly amounts of Heroin to the USA….straight up to your neighborhood, Daily. It is so “good” so pure, that they now are cutting ALL of it with Fentyanol. Yeah, it’s even more powerful and deadly today as it has ever been. I speak to parents daily, who are crusaders now. They travel in groups to Albany to seek more funds for long term treatment. They beg and plead with our senators to wake up and DO something. Something? This is bigger than you or I or even God. This is stealing and killing our youth, our children, spouses, siblings.. at a rate so rapid, it will surpass AIDS or cancer. I dream about the “wall” Trump speaks of. But that wall for me is to execute the Mexican drug cartel in its entirety. It has nothing to do with deportation. I loathe Donald Trump. But, he is a smart guy. Maybe he will take this monster, demon, or maybe it may somehow effect his family or relatives and he might take a stand against this. Rid this nation of the poison we allow to cross our borders and kill our kids. Like, I said, it’s a dream of mine, but the reality of it is petrifying. I was terrified for 2 years. I had a premonition, deep, bleeding inside my gut. My son, could not beat this! It was too easy, too strong, it controlled him completely. We watched a healthy, young man, slowly die. The flashbacks are still fresh and gruesome. I share today, that my biggest fear, and at times it immobilized me, & tragically, it indeed, became our reality.
I am no stranger to Grief… I’ve lost many many people over the last decade or so. I’ve learned the tools, the steps, the need for support and mostly, I learned that time, and counseling and sharing your grief with others who have lost someone the very same way will lessen your burden and pain. I’ve learned that this life…this precious, beautiful, life we are blessed and given can change in a blink, a second, a weak moment. I always quote, that in this life… nothing is guaranteed, we are all born to die. That moment you are born, the miracle of giving birth, life to your child, never leaves you. No one is supposed to bury a child. It seems quite unnatural. We are to decease before them. My life did not unfold that way. I sit here and contemplate my new life, my new existence here. Loving and honoring and speaking about my son Michael to whoever will listen. He is very much alive in my heart. He is embedded in me. I often tell people. It is very hard, difficult, impossible for me to tell you how much I Miss Him. I cry every time I try to convey that feeling, that loss, that reality, that he is physically gone from me. I remember telling my children, I love you to the moon and stars and beyond. I told him, he was my Sunshine…he lit up a room and had a heart so big, so giving, wherever he went, or met, they were simply drawn to his beauty and kindness. Addiction stole everything from him, and I can’t begin to explain how hard, painful it was to watch him suffer. I know above all, how much he loved us. We said it often, always, and he knew he was loved and cherished, even during the worst of his days. I grieve often about how ashamed he felt about his addiction, his daughter, his dirty secret. Today, I feel only love, deeply saddened, but it is true…Love Transcends Death….and that is how I get through today. I will do my best to honor my son and his struggle and his brave fight to beat addiction. I will admit, I am working on my faith, recovering it, and, if there is a heaven…and it is as beautiful as those who have seen it, or visited heaven. I pray, when my time comes, that he is waiting for me, smiling, arms wide open and those beautiful sparkling blue eyes clear and healed. My Mikey…my beautiful boy, a part of you is always with me. Please visit me, and show me a sign again.
Mama Bear <3 …xxx