On September 8th, 1983 I came to find out what unconditional love really meant. The gift of a son was bestowed upon me; an amazing baby with sparkling brown eyes and a smile that lit up his entire face. Eddie was an absolute joy to raise from day one. Being a young single mom I feared I wouldn't be able to raise him properly, but Eddie made it so easy. Everyday he brought me a new wonderment; this little person taught me something new every single day. As he grew and his own personality started developing, I knew in my heart he was special. Extremely bright (learning was effortless for him), kind, sensitive, loving and very intuitive, even at age two he had the ability to sense if I was feeling sad. So many times just out of the blue he would give me a big hug, put his little hands on my face and say, “Don't worry mommy – I love you.” Together we made it through the toddler years, elementary and middle school without Eddie ever showing any signs of being an "at-risk teen." He was an excellent student, loved playing roller hockey with his friends -- most of whom had known each other since 1st grade. He was never disrespectful or disruptive in our home, his sense of humor was flawless--making people laugh was his forte. Eddie could put a smile on my face even on my worst of days. When I found out Eddie was smoking pot (he was 15), I was, to say the least, in total shock. I was beside myself with panic andI brought home pamphlets about marijuana use and how statistics had proven it to be a gateway to other more dangerous drugs. Eddie had an answer for everything I said, he debated the issue so well that I secretly started to question my own argument. I can still very clearly hear him tell me, “Come on Mom, all teenagers try pot, it's their right of passage." He tried to assure me that it was only a couple of times and that he really didn't like it. We always trusted each other and I wanted so much to believe him but I realized that being in denial can only take you so far. I decided to place Eddie in a private high school in the middle of his sophomore year --this was when I started to notice subtle but evident changes in his personality: he no longer cared if he didn't ace a test or pass a class. Little by little he stopped hanging out with his long-time friends and began staying with a new group of kids, kids I didn't know he got into some minor trouble with the police and isolated himself in his room when at home. There were absolutely NO physical signs that we was using any drugs, meaning no red eyes or slurred speech, etc. He swore on everything sacred to him that he wasn't even smoking pot any more and so I attributed the changes to the surrounding elements and thought it best to change them. What I found out a few years later was that Eddie hid his drug use extremely well, he made it appear as if I had made the right choice by putting him in a private school. He brought his grades up almost immediately andseemed to be back on the right track. He continued to maintain his average and graduated in the class of 2001. During the summer after graduation was when I found out Eddie had started abusing Xanax, of course he denied it, trying to convince me he had only been drinking some beers and telling me I was paranoid. Admittedly, I sometimes thought I was letting my fears overrule my senses. I shifted back and forth between bouts of depression so bad that I struggled to get out of bed in the morning to being in utter denial and pretending everything was “fine,” but in my heart I knew that drugs had stolen my son's soul. My precious boy was gone, the smiles and quick wit were replaced by scowls and silence, the sparkle in his eyes was clouded by poison. In September of 2005, Eddie got his one and only chance at professional drug rehabilitation. He signed himself into a treatment center and completed a 28-day program. There, he was diagnosed with depression and an anxiety disorder andhe learned that he was abusing Xanax as way of self-medicating. He managed to stay drug-free for almost 60 days before he started the vicious cycle all over again. As I write this, it has only been a little over six months since the angels called Eddie home. I spend a minimum of 99% of my day thinking about him and praying that I'll dream of him when I sleep. Eddie truly was my best friend; the English language seems too limited to fully express how much I miss him with words. To me, Eddie being an addict was just a fraction of who he was but in reality being an addict consumed him, the drugs robbed him of the ability to look in the mirror and see the remarkable person that not only I saw, but the countless number of people who's hearts he touched. Unlike so many other diseases, that may only affect a certain group of individuals, addiction is a universal, worldwide non-discriminatory disease. It makes no difference where you live, what or whom you know or don't know. Your drug of choice makes no difference either; some people (especially teens and young adults) seem to have the misconception that if they are only taking drugs that a doctor can prescribe i.e. Xanax, Vicodin, OxyContin, etc., they can't possibly be addicts. This misguided thinking ultimately ended my son's life. I love Eddie with every fiber of my being, I would sell my soul to the devil to have one more chance at saving him, but if his or any other story can save even one person and spare even one parent the unendurable anguish of losing their child to this disease, I will be comforted by the fact that at least he did not die in vain. Eddie will continue to live in my heart forever and through me his voice will be heard. Eddie leaves behind two beautiful children, Anthony and Amanda, three younger siblings and a hole in my heart that no amount of time will ever heal.
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