When a Recovering Addict Mourns

It is morning, but it is dark.
Dark in the sense that everything is just not how it is supposed to be.
Dark, so dark, that I strain to see sense, but there is no sense to see.
This dark weighs like a thousand pound cloud that thunders, waiting to release the torrential rain.
How did it come to this?

Dutifully going through the motions, I slip on my suit coat.
Black. Black as dark as black can be. I feel wound & bound as I enter this day.
Just five months ago he came to the house. I recognized his hesitancy and his lack of admission right away because I had been there myself.
Not that I know it all or have the answers and can say I am free, because, in reality, we are never really free – never free enough to not be concerned.

We all walk a tenuous, tightrope of recovery.

The light begins as a pinhole stream, as hope is recognized and love is allowed in. Gaining steadiness in my walk I can say the brightness of the light grows with each day that I keep my back turned away from the lures that promise things that are not true.

Emotions are hard.
They trigger desires and thoughts to run and hide in the dark spaces and places.

Standing tall I breathe big and my hand slips into my suit coat pocket and feels a single, soft tissue. This suit was borrowed by him who came to the house five months ago. He wore it to his friends funeral. Yes… this was his tissue with his tears dried on it from just a few weeks ago. And now, here I stand, wearing the same suit, needing a tissue of my own. I pull it out and let the soft crumbled mass sit cradled in my hand like a treasure; the treasure of a friendship now lost.

Death is so very dark.
Why couldn’t I have helped him better to see the light more clearly?
Emotions; damn emotions!
Begging, they seductively whisper to me…
the darkness that thunders with the weight of rain, beckons.
That tenuous, tightrope is before me. Can I still walk it?

I am paralyzed in the moment.

Without any more hesitation, I carefully place the crumpled tissue back into my pocket. And my heart weeps a message: Dear friend, I will miss you. I am sorry I couldn’t change your mind.

And so, I step out and balance my footing…
Sober. Yes, sober, I decide on it.
And I leave the dark rumble behind me.

***

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My son was just barely five months clean in recovery when one of his good friends died of an overdose via a medicine laced with fentanyl. He was crushed. He wept and stuffed that crumpled tissue into his suit coat pocket.

Just about six weeks later, it was my son who died of an overdose involving fentanyl.

I cannot help but think about the impact that drug related deaths have on those who are in recovery; I imagine it frays the end of the tightrope.

Emotions are hard. Death by drugs is a slap of reality across the face that forces a hard look at mortality and threatens the recovering addicts ability to keep walking that tenuous tight rope.

As my son’s friends in recovery came to his memorial service, they wept and were crushed too.  My heart feared for each one of them.

For real, just weeks later, I watched these same friends weep over another friend who died of an overdose; It was horribly overwhelming. What bold resolve it takes to keep on going forward in recovery when friends are dying all around them.

How can we help?  We can help by being purposeful in our love and support for those  who struggle every day to keep sober and clean. Acknowledge their strength and resiliency to keep going when fear rises up and they doubt their next day will be successful. Keep reaching out and hoping and be there when they need you.

Most of all, pray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Can I Thank God When my Son is Dead?

How can I thank God when my son is dead? 

That thought alone sets off an explosion in my head!

It  Can’t be done!” Reason explains.

He is Dead. You are dead. The world is dead. There is no point.

Give up while the choice is still yours!

Can I say it any bigger, any bolder?

Just dead.

Dead.

Dead.

Why am I even going on?

The fact is true as the sky is blue. My son is gone; There can be no thanks in that!

And yet …

Before my son died,

I lingered in bed when the sun kissed my cheek through the window.

My mouth watered in anticipation of a warm chocolate chip cookie.

My heart delighted in silly bantering with my husband  – who is right and who is wrong?

I looked forward to meals alongside my kids,

and their kids,

and their dog-kids.

I loved the sound of rain, especially when I was falling asleep.

Then… I thanked God for every enjoyable blessing.

Of course,

… then, it made sense.

And yet …

After my son died,

I still linger, anticipate, delight, banter, look forward to things, and love.

I am not dead. The world is not dead.

I am alive and creation still thrives with sun and rain and kids, and their kids, and their dog-kids.

And so, even if it makes no sense, I can thank God, even … now.

The choice is definitely mine.

So I choose.

And…

Before my son died,

I loved my son with a deep, sacrificial love – the kind that warmed, and hurt, and forgave, and forgave, and forgave.

After my son died:

I still love my son with a deep and sacrificial love – only now it aches to hug, and hug, and hug. So I do. I hug, and hug, and hug others who need those hugs like my son needed them.

There is a point. A particular point.

I remember how he reveled over  a good barbeque,

a big jump in the pool,

a chill time at the bonfire,

and especially a spirited wrestle with his brother.

His smirky-grin dances in my memory and stitches a stitch in my broken heart.

Stitch by stitch. Stitch by stitch.

All this, a very profitable, particular point; Healing one stitch at a time.

The sun rises, the sun sets.

There is rhyme and there is reason.

“It Can be done!” I say.

There is no if, and, or but.

Joy reaches it’s potential when Sorrow is known in the gut, way down deep…. you can’t appreciate the good without knowing fully, the bad.

This is why I go on.

God is still God, and merciful, and compassionate, and powerful, and the same as He has always been.

God allowed for His own Son to die,

so that mine might live...

not just in my memory, or in my heart, but in heaven eternally.

Yes,

so I thank God for that! 

How can I thank God when my son is dead?

This is how.

Love.

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May you, dear reader, find Joy in abundance this Thanksgiving!

This is as big and as bold as it gets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Battle – Love

Nose to nose,

I can see your sweat balance on your brow just before it drips like a tear down your cheek.
Heat-flares swirl like flames from your words that are so loud, I cannot hear.
Standing still,
I am not afraid of you. I am afraid for you.
Search I do, with a calm desperation, for my soft tender boy, as I stare steady into your eyes…
Where are you (?) I plead, with a screaming whisper…
I Know you are in there…
My heart holds on like a rope to the mast as you turn in a fury and punch the wall with ramped-up rage, storming ocean waves keep coming without mercy and the sheetrock tells all with it’s gaping hole.
Ah-uuuuugh! Vomits your souls guttural plea, from the inside places that weep inside your brokenness.
Hang on…
I see you soft tender boy, caged by the demons that grip, and tear, and lie to you.
Nose to nose,

I know you see that I am not afraid as your sonship locks on my momma’s gaze, again, as the tide rolls out…
I am afraid for you.
Look at me, don’t turn away soft tender boy.

I see you.
Let me hold your chalk dusted hand.

The third thing I learned in the battle is this:

Loving, is the most important action.

As a Christian, my mantra sings:

Love God. Then Love others.

Love is what enabled me to stand in the storm with my son. I did not leave. I did not give up. And neither should you. Do you suffer by watching your loved one suffer in the illness of addiction? I urge you to stand firm – look hard to see the person underneath their addiction – see the lost child you remember and keep loving, even when it makes no sense to keep loving.

Down deep the one afflicted will know, and that’s what counts most…

that your loved one knows that they are loved.

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