Zach came into our family by adoption when he was 3 days old. At the time, our two older children were 16 and 18 and we all adored this beautiful, active, bright addition to our family! Two years later we adopted a beautiful 11 day old baby girl, Jordan, and our family was complete. Since he came to us just before Christmas, Zach was truly like a gift from God. As he grew up and we began to see the many ways he was blessed physically, athletically, musically and academically, we enjoyed riding with him on every wave of his many and varied interests and achievements. He excelled in soccer, tennis, piano, math and science. He had a smile that could light up a room, and his mischievous personality contributed to his love for risky behavior. Although we didn't realize it at the time, his first experiment with drugshappened between ages 12 and 13, with inhalants and alcohol. Around age 14,we realized his change in attitude wasn't just normal adolescent behavior; he was already deep into the lifestyle of deception and dependency. For 8 years we did everything we could to get him help, and although he was in and out of in- and out-patient treatment programs, and individual and family counseling, nothing really broke his stride and he used whatever and whenever he could. We always tried to be loving but firm, but last year we took an even stronger stance, and he seemed to be responding. But as a 3rd year pre-med student, he was realizing he couldn't balance his substance abuse and the demanding studies. Shortly before he died he called me after going to church, which he had gotten out of the habit of doing, and sobbed that he realized he was "in bondage on so many levels." I assured him this was God speaking though his conscience and Jesus could set him free. He agreed, and we planned on discussing it much more over the Christmas holidays. I was excited to see the deliverance his dad and I and many other people had prayed for for years. And since my brother had died the summer before of an accidental overdose of oxycontin, it never occurred to me that I could lose another precious member of my family to substance abuse. On Dec 22, as we all arrived in separate vehicles at our older son's home for our annual family Christmas gathering, one by one we heard the unbelievable news that Zach had been found dead on the floor of the apartment of two friends who were girls, where he had asked to "crash" the night before. He just turned 22 less than a month before. At first I was tormented about him being alone when he died, but over time with input from medical and spiritual advisors, I have come to realize Jesus was very much present with him, cradling him in His arms as he passed from this life to the next. The pain of losing him has been indescribable. It was such a huge, intentional decision to take another baby into our family, and we had such hopes for him. Was he clinically depressed? Bipolar? Genetically predisposed to addiction? Upset about his adoption? Did he suffer more than we knew from being biracial in a white family? Was he impaired from the constant chemicals washing over his brain since adolescence? Possibly all of the above. But the bottom line is, he is gone and our lives will never be the same. We had to bury our son on the day after Christmas, the very time of year he came into our lives. At his funeral we sang "Amazing Grace/My Chains Are Gone" which says in part "My chains are gone, I've been set free; my God, my Savior has ransomed me; and like a flood His mercy reigns; unending love, amazing grace." Our family believes that, and we know we will see Zach again, not because of what Zach did, but because of what Jesus did on the cross. On Zach's headstone we had them engrave, "Free At Last." Good night my son.
Partners for Hope raise critical funds on behalf Partnership to End Addiction – the nation’s leading organization dedicated to addiction prevention, treatment and recovery. Every dollar raised on behalf of the Partnership* will help ensure free, personalized family support resources, including our national helpline, peer-to-peer parent coaching, customized online tools and community education programs, can reach those who need them most. Please consider donating to this fundraiser and sharing this page.
*Donations made to Partnership to End Addiction are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. All contributions are fully tax-deductible, as no goods or services are provided in consideration in whole, or in part, of any contribution to this nonprofit organization. EIN: 52-1736502