Dearest Mark--My Golden Boy, Happy Thirtieth Birthday! I had hoped to spend this day with you celebrating but instead I have spent the day alone with my memories of you, trying to celebrate the time we shared before you died from using heroin, but mostly deeply grieving over your death, now ten years ago. It seems like a second ago, it seems like an eternity ago that you died and our hopes and dreams were shattered. Part of my life has a surreal quality because you are gone. I can't believe it's true but if it isn't true then why do I have this gaping hole in my heart, and why does my soul ache with longing to look into your eyes and hold you once more. It seems unimaginable that I could survive the life-crushing blow of hearing your father speak those unspeakable words “The worst has happened. Mark is gone”. When I saw you for that last time, your precious body was still and lifeless, your handsome and shining face was faded. I stroked your golden hair lying so perfectly and so soft, so very soft for the very last time. And now, on your thirtieth birthday I am thinking about your life again, as I do so very often. I am thinking about that remarkable moment when you came into this world and drew your first breath. You were so beautiful, with your platinum curls, big sky-blue eyes and rosy cheeks. You were always quick to give “lovins”, to climb onto my lap and put your little arms around my neck and lay your sweet warm head on my shoulder. I think of you and your outstanding traits, some that are innate and some that were developed over the years. Most outstanding is your magnetic personality, always drawing young and old alike to want to be with you and to want to bask in the warmth of your acceptance and approval. I think of your ability to listen and to understand and to advise, never breaking a confidence. I think of your wry sense of humor, seeing the funny side of most things. I think of your intelligence, your ability to grasp concepts well beyond your years, the questions you would ask as you pondered life's meaning, your direction and your purpose. I think about your troubled spirit, sometimes feeling like you “couldn't do it”, couldn't be all that you thought others thought you should be, not everything you thought you should be. I think about the guilt and shame that your heroin addiction brought you and my heart breaks all over again, knowing the pain that gripped your heart and mind and the shame that it brought into a life that should have been shameless. You lived a lot in your nineteen years and yet you missed so much that your future would have brought to you. I too will miss so much in my future because you are not here. These are the thoughts that crush my soul and make it difficult to breathe and to go on living here on this earth without you. And yet, I feel so grateful for the years I had with you to experience the vastness of your soul, the wisdom you had in your youth. I think with pleasure and a smile in my heart about your first step, your first word, the first time you rode a two-wheeler all by yourself, your first skateboard, your love of your dogs and your cats. I think of your football games, your baseball games, your swim meets, your basketball games and how you loved to win. I think of the schoolwork that showed your intelligence and creativity. I think of taking you and your friends snowboarding, all the excitement for the first snow and your plans to compete as a pro. I think of your first girlfriend, your first broken heart, and your first true love. And who could forget how good you were at video games. And now I hold all these memories in my heart, in a place that is safe from the heartbreak that exists, these memories that will never leave me as long as I live. As I think of you now, on your thirtieth birthday I wonder where you are, what you're doing, who you know, what you see, but most of all, how you feel. I like to think of you as being so happy and at peace, learning the answers to the questions you had. I like to think that you are alternately near God and near us, that you go with us, and watch over us. The loss of you has changed my life forever but I try to do some good through my pain. I hope that you will be here for me, to give me your strength and help me know what I can do to help others with addictions and how to help families to never go through this endless wishing that things were so very different. I want to wish you great happiness on your birthday. Even though I wish with all my heart that I would see you on your birthday, have the chance to look into your sky-blue eyes and kiss your soft cheek, the cheek of a boy just becoming a man, and hold you, and be held by you. I know that I cannot have these wishes and that you, my most precious baby boy, are gone from me. I try to have faith in a divine purpose. I try to believe that somehow this is part of a plan and was meant to happen this way (although my heart screams NO, NO, this was not supposed to be). Know that I miss you. Know that you are my Golden Boy, now and forever. Know that I want you to be happy and peaceful. Know that I will be with you again someday. All my love forever, Mom
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