Where the Drug Deals Go Down…

I always assumed the drug deals to go down in a dark alley, a shady neighborhood, in a rundown complex, and of course, in the big cities.

But I was wrong, in part.

Sure – some of them do certainly happen in those places… but there’s a lot that do not.

I never knew, until after my son overdosed and we had a look at his phone.

Two years prior to his death, he was introduced to his first substance by another athlete at school; typical, and hey – experimentation in high school has been going on for years and years – not one generation has been able to avoid it; sad, but true.

Two years after that first introduction, was another story.

Where the drug deals go down may surprise you… it did me; I was angered when I found out.

“How did I not see?”

thRCO12E63Like an innocent sheep with the wool pulled over my eyes… I was dumb, unaware, and never saw the wolves at my back door – literally.

Cars would pull up alongside the driveway for a few minutes every so often, every few – 5 days or so, and when we asked, “Who was that?” My son would say, “Just a friend who stopped by to say Hi!” And we believed him, oh so naïve.

Exchanges on the bike trails… Oh wait!  I had seen my son’s car sitting there in the  parking lot several times before, odd afternoons and early evenings – and he said, “I was just chillin”  – meeting up with “some friends”… and I believed him, oh so naïve.

The friend card  –  (*sigh*)  – we all want our kids to have friends, so we don’t question too much, and we give them space (assuming that all the friends are good friends) … and we relax when they are just chillin’ with a friend… at least I did, oh so naïve.

Little did I know… there were deals being made, and drops going on…

in the mailbox,

in the woods,

by the dumpster…

just yards and a few miles away from home, oh so naïve.

Parents:

Where the drug deals go down (?) is right in your backyards, in your neighborhoods, and on your sport teams in your idyllic little towns; the wolves are at your back door… literally.

Post my son’s death, one source told me, “Oh, I had people drop right at the front door while my parents where watching T.V. – they never suspected a thing!”

My only point to this post today is DON’T BE NAIVE my fellow parents!

My hindsight is 20/20, just as the saying goes.

Parents:

Take note when your kids’ friends “stop by” in a habitual manner, every so often, and don’t stay very long at the end of your driveways, in parking lots, or alongside your house, or your neighbors house. Take note when your son or daughter often slips out of the house for a few minutes for no apparent reason, no matter the time of day. Note the patterns, question the nonchalant-ness, know who these friends are…

Trust me:

You don’t want to be caught unaware, where the drug deals go down.

 

 

Detox Counselor Weeps

Last Christmas my son was at The Castle.

Don’t think Downton Abbey, or Cinderella & Prince-Charming kinds of Castles.   I am referring to The Castle in Brockton, MA – the short term addiction treatment program for kids 13 – 19 years old.

My son was 19 when we sectioned him to detox; he was not happy with us. Yet, he had excellent care at The Castle and his detox counselor was able to meet my son square-on; good progress was made and my son knew why we did what we did.

However, after 5 clean months, a relapse and overdose took my son from this earth.  His detox counselor called me when she heard about his death and was devastated. As we talked, she wept with me and confessed:

“I lied to him; I told him he would have many Christmases to enjoy with his family – that this was just one Christmas to work through to have many more in the future.”

I said,

“You did not lie, you were encouraging him to be motivated to pursue clean and sober living – you were extending hope to him.”

And that is the truth.

I look back and remember packing eight of us up with gifts, in two cars, twice, to try and make it through a blizzard to get to The Castle to see him on Christmas day, last year; it consumed our entire day.

Hours of tedious driving later, we arrived. Big hugs were given, animated conversation and laughs filled the glass atrium as snow continued to fall outside.  My son’s face literally lit up with joy and relief at seeing his family. What a glorious moment! My heart tucked that entire scene away and logged it as: precious-memory-to-keep-forever.

Some look back with sadness and think he had the worst Christmas last year and he will never have another one to enjoy… just like his detox counselor thought. And, that it was our worst Christmas too.

I beg to differ, actually.

Last Christmas was very intentional – one that was not taken for granted because it was full of purposeful action to show our son how much he was loved. I know my son knew that – it was written all over his face for that full hour we got to spend with him. Deep down, he knew he was totally loved, and in some ways, it was a best Christmas for him I think; the usual traditions were up-ended, they weren’t there to distract everyone from the total focus of love.

After all – that’s the whole point of Christmas isn’t it? It’s not about the trimmings and the traditions/expectations and the lazy MO of the day. It’s entirely about love.

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This is a painting that my son painted before addiction took over his brain and claimed his life. He loved to paint and draw; it brought a sense of peace to his being.

Notice the star –  it was followed by some wise men long ago.

Notice the angel, front and center – it is a symbol of the Good News that God has for us all.

Notice the small yet perfect depiction of Jesus and his parents surrounded by those carefully crafted stones – humbly positioned in just the right place.

Jesus’ birth was intentional; let us not take his birth for granted… it is the beginning of God’s best show of love for us. We are each deeply loved by the Father and Jesus was willing to do what he did; be born, live to die, and rise… so we can go to heaven one day. This is the ultimate gift of love.

Simple.

The message is simple.

Dear Detox counselor,

My son is now in the presence of Jesus this Christmas… and he will enjoy all Christmases eternally.  Do not weep, dear detox counselor, for the earthly Christmases lost, for my son’s gain is far better!

Yes, my heart hurts and I miss him so very much!

Yet, … until I join him – I will keep following and keep sharing the good news!

Merry Christmas to all who read these words!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where was God, when my Son Died of an Overdose?

My son, was alone when he died.

This fact haunts me.

His friend, “asleep” in the next room, unaware, did not wake up in time help my son. There was no one else around, just the two of them.

With angry, mournful cries, my question stands:

Where was God, when my son died of an overdose?

It had been a self-medicating night of weed, alcohol, and cocaine. Pizza, laughs and companionship, leading to a late night taste of heroin. One high falling to a lull, after the next high falling to a lull, and on it went.

Why heroin?

It was not his drug of choice; He told me several times, “I will never do that mom, I am not that stupid.” All I can assume is that he was not in any right-frame-of-mind and therefore did not realize what he was doing; he had no idea that the heroin was laced with fentanyl.

ikvk6228.jpgHe just bought new sneakers one week before, a prideful accomplishment on his part; he sent me this photo saying, “I got a good deal , mom, $10 bucks off!.” He recently picked out his meal choice for his brother’s upcoming wedding, “beef” of course, we all knew he’d choose that.  Earlier that week, he made plans to go to the gym with another brother to get back in shape. Just four days before, he wept with a sober friend, confessing he had relapsed and knew he was in trouble and was afraid. I believe he finally got to the point of realizing for himself that he had a problem and needed help.

My son did not intend for his life to end on that terrible night.

So, where was God when he pulled out the heroin packets? Why didn’t God awaken the friend sooner?

As my son began to lose his capacity to breathe, did he know it? When the oxygen level was cut off, and his heart slowed to a stop, could my son comprehend what was happening? Did he cry out for help, inside? Did God hear him?

Here’s what I believe:

I believe that God was with my son the whole time, weeping over his choices perhaps, but loving him through it all. If comfort and assurance was needed as my son was in that flash-of-a-moment, realizing he was dying… I know that God gave comfort. When faced with stuff too hard to do alone,

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:8a. 

I often told my son this.

I believe, that God held his heart, til it’s last beat and cradled his soul with his last exhale, hugging him into heaven. God is a God of compassion and of mercy and He knew even more than we,  how much my son needed to be rescued. And rescue, God did. My son was rescued from ten years of mental anguish, inner turmoil, two years of addiction, and all the fall out that crippled life for him; he suffers no more.

I often think: what was ahead that God spared him from? … the unseen future that only God sees. Because of His sovereignty, I choose to trust that what God allowed was the best for my son; in this trust, my anger dissipates. Though I still weep mournful tears and my arms ache to wrap my arms around my son, I know that God did not fail him, or me.

Currently my son has no need of sneakers, beef, or the gym; Instead, my son enjoys the fullness of peace with God.

If you wonder where God is in your battle, be assured, He is with you because He never leaves us, or forsakes us.