A Mother's Cry
My Precious Mother
4/28/84 - 7/1/2012
It seemed so unreal, it can??t be true.
This is not a story.? These are real events and feelings leading up to a death of a heroin addict and how it destroyed a family.
My intentions are not to bring blame or place guilt among any one who read this.
The intentions are to write what has happened in my situation to bring awareness that this is an epidemic and it is in your community.
This is to bring awareness to all parents that think it would never happen to you or your children or your families: Please beware.
My story in black and white as life seems it will be forever more.
It was a very hot afternoon July 1, 2012.? The temperature had already surged to over 103 and it was around 3:30 pm. My husband and I had been working in the yard most of the morning and doing things around the house.? We finally took a break to enjoy some beverages in the cool air conditioning and stir the sauce for spaghetti that had been simmering on the stove all Sunday morning.
Everything changed the moment the phone rang.
My husband answered the phone and could not understand the conversation that he was hearing on the other end.?My brother was calling and asking if we had received a call from my mother, confused I had no idea how this was going to change my life forever. My brother said the words I thought I would never ever hear.
??There is a criminal investigation going on at Mom's and Cody may be dead due to a heroin overdose,. Mom found him in the basement.??
THE ROAD TO DARKNESS
This can??t be happening.
The drive to my mother??s house will never be forgotten and the road to her house to this day fills me with anxiety. Was this real? Did this really happen to my son? Disbelief, anger, fear that this is not happening, they were wrong. My heart ached, broken and destroyed. I prayed, I begged God to not let this be happening. I was asking and doubting faith ask I cried out, "Why has He forsaken me???
As we drove up the long driveway to my mother??s house, my heart pounding so hard I could feel and hear it and couldn??t even speak. I saw my brother standing there and I will never forget the look on his face. I knew at that moment my world would be forever shattered. My brother came to me in the car as I sat there in disbelief not wanting to hear what was about to unfold. Words were not even spoken as I looked into his sad eyes. He nodded his head, confirming that Cody, my son, was dead.
I can??t even explain what had happened after that except that I felt my whole body go numb. I remember getting out of the car and I wanted to run, to keep on going. I was stuck, everyone one was holding me back from going down in the basement to be with him, to pray over him, to bring him back. I prayed for a miracle.?Disbelief and grief immediately took over and I fell to the ground and wept.
I??m not sure how long I laid there kicking and screaming on the ground.?I felt the dirt under my nails as I clawed at the grass, pulling it, kicking and screaming that this wasn??t suppose to be happening, it wasn??t real! Moments went by as I yelled and screamed out to God. What had I been praying for all this time? Had God not heard my cries before all of this? Had I not prayed the right prayers for my children?
Digging into the ground I screamed out in despair only to be lifted then by my brother who held me until I could finally get my bearings to face the truth of everything that was before me. The ground seemed to barely be touching my feet as I walked in my brother??s strong arms that held me up so I could face reality of what was yet to come.
Our Pastor came and provided much comfort and prayer as questions of faith and understanding of what was happening overwhelmed my whole family. I remember questioning everything I believed in only to then be regretful for even questioning my faith. How cold this be happening to us? What did I do wrong? I felt so much guilt and remorse. I believe because so much grief had over taken me, I didn??t know what to feel or what to believe.
Our Pastor reminded me of my profound faith and love for Christ and most of all that even through my darkest times that the Lord knows our hearts. God was with us and most of all that He was with Cody. The enemy -- drugs -- took my son, not God. I was not believing in anything or any one at that moment, everything seemed shattered, like glass falling on cement, a million pieces and emotions filled my heart.
Darkness and gloom seemed to overtake my whole being.
I couldn??t comprehend this, all that was happening around me. I was afraid and scared, I couldn??t even make sense of what was being told to me. I didn??t want to believe that any of it was true but this is the reality of how heroin can rob, ruin and destroy lives and families. I knew then I had to be strong and lean on God to make it through this.? But how? How can I trust anyone, it seemed I yelled this out plenty of times to our Lord but was He listening? Where did He go in my time of need?
Our families?? strength, faith and love thru all of this were so evident mostly because of Cody??s grandmother.
Through it all she was still able to hold our family together. How she felt, her panic and her grief. How she must have felt when it was all happening -- because she found him, her grandson, laying on the floor unresponsive. Where did she find the strength to face what was happening? How did she make any of the calls that she did??What would anyone do? So many questions left unanswered because so much pain and grief and sadness has now taken place.
Grandmothers are not suppose to find their grandchildren dead from an overdose of drugs. Grandmothers are special.?They are soft and stern, loving, caring and bold. They are encouragers, who give warmth and kindness, laughter and love.?They are teachers, and always make grandchildren feel better, no matter how simple or complex the problem may be.?She is the grandmother who overlooks faults and dares her grandchildren to dream and to live life to the fullest. She teaches them to love and respect for their parents.
Cody cherished all of these things that his grandmother gave to him unconditionally. I know that mostly he respected her honesty with him. She told him like it was and he truly respected her for that. As Cody grew into a man he wanted so many things but had a hard time sorting a lot of it out. He always knew that his grandmother would set him on the right path. She taught him that there were always consequences for his actions good or bad.
A REVELATION OF AN AWARENESS FORUM
Hope can be found!
My husband and I along with my mother gathered at the family table to discuss arrangements. The funeral directors, police investigators and coroners were asking questions. I could barely think and answer correctly. Everyone was so sympathetic but I was angry and felt so defeated by this drug and the information they were telling me about how this drug had taken over our youth.
When I heard the numbers of death from heroin I realized at that moment how heroin is an epidemic and that it had taken so many before my son. I then felt my faith come to me and knew that I was needed to help others, to bring awareness. I found, because of my faith, that I was meant to do this through my son Cody??s legacy.
Sitting there in the midst of all the grief and chaos of what was happening to our family that other families were going thru the same thing. I knew then that this drug epidemic has got to be stopped. I would never want to see another family go through what our family was dealing with. At the same time I realized, as I looked at my grieving mother, my husband and my family, that I could never let this go without a fight. I knew that hard cold facts and truth about what had happened had to be revealed in order to help someone else.
CONSEQUENCES: A REALITY CHECK
Reality is harsh and most people do not want to read stories with endings such as these. We all want to read happy ending or believe that it would never be our own children who would do these things.?We want to believe that our children are well, successful and educated. But do we really know what is happening with our kids at any age when we let them go?
I didn??t and that is why I am writing this with honesty. I was not aware that my son??s heroin use would eventually kill him. I knew that he had tried it and he had told me he was done with it.?He had just experimented with it he had told me and that he was done with it.? I didn??t know about the drug and how powerful the strong hold it has on someone even after they stopped using.?I didn??t know enough to help.?I have never even known anyone in my lifetime to have actually used that drug.
I know the stigma that was attached to heroin users, and of course this wasn??t and couldn??t be my son. He was attending college full time; he was a father who wanted more than anything to be a successful man and a great dad to his children.?But this drug took everything from him, it killed him and all of his dreams.?Cody died of a heroin overdose and that was the end of his story. That is what people will remember him for.
Do not kid yourselves into thinking because of the following that your children may not be using drugs. They can be the children that are involved in church and sports. They can be the overachiever, the slacker. They can be anyone of your children who attend college, or are athletes, scholars or musicians.
We want to sugarcoat everything and pretend things like this don??t happen in our neighborhoods, our communities, schools and families.? The reality is that it is happening right now, today, in your neighborhoods, community and schools.
Drugs of all kinds are hitting our streets and most of them can be found in your homes and in your medicine cabinets.?This is the epidemic killing our youth. It is out of control. The detective that handled our case had seen so many die and agreed that we need to bring greater awareness to our communities.
This is an epidemic of more than just the drug; it fills your entire being of shame and guilt. Not only for the person using drugs but for the family and survivors of those that have overdosed.?It ruins dreams, hopes, and destroys lives that eventually end in deaths and destruction of loved ones. Not only does the person who is suffering from drug addiction feel pain -- but all who have suffered through the addiction or are survivors have grief.
What is the truth?
Is it possible to find truth?
??How did your son die????I find it so hard to tell the truth when asked. I choke on the words and sometime I can??t bare the truth to say that my son died of a heroin overdose. I was aware that he had used in the past but didn??t have enough information about the drug to know what I know now.?I was ashamed because I didn??t know enough about this drug to save my son.? I wasn??t even aware of a drug epidemic before my son overdosed in July of 2012.
This has been happening for a long time to him and I didn??t see the signs, and I didn??t know until it happened to us. If I did maybe somehow we could have saved my son. Prayers just weren??t enough.
Now that some time has passed I??ve realized that I need to take a stand against this drug and cause.?My son died of a heroin overdose. Why didn??t we see it coming? The ugly, horrible, honest truth. I have to call and name it what it is.
I do not want any other mother to ever have to suffer the loss of what I felt when I lost my son to this senseless drug that is so addictive and easy to get.
Heroin, as it is today, is mostly pure on the streets, highly addictive, cheaper than a six-pack of beer and is very attractive to many young people looking for a quick high. But because of its potency, it can kill them. Yes, even the first-time user could die and is always instantly hooked by the high.
Heroin can be a lot like playing Russian roulette but not with a gun.
It will take everything from the person using it and all the family members involved.? It robs and tears families apart, and brings much sorrow to all involved, even the user. It takes souls, life and everything that is important and anyone who dares to try it. It is an enemy that we need to stand against together to make a difference to bring awareness to our communities.
Is this possible?
I realized that I needed to forgive myself first. I was pushing everyone away. I was punishing myself and others who loved me or wanted to help.
I needed time to understand what had happened. I blamed myself for everything and took it out on the ones I loved because I didn??t want to suffer by myself.
I judged and pointed the finger to everyone and especially myself and my faith.?I took everything in and let nothing go. Everything I believed in and lived was now a test of survival, faith and endurance.
I was walking in shoes that I didn??t want to be in.?I hated these shoes. They are ugly shoes. Uncomfortable shoes. Each day I wore them, and each day I wish I had another pair. Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I could take another step. Yet, I continue to wear them. I get funny looks wearing these shoes. They are looks of sympathy. I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are in their shoes and not mine.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable. To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them. But, once you put them on, you can never take them off. I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes. There are many pairs in this world. Some women are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so they don??t hurt quite as much. Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think about how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes. Yet, because of these shoes I am a stronger woman. These shoes have given me the strength to face anything. They have made me who I am. I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child to drugs, and someday I will be able to put them away.
I hear so many good intentions of how to "get over it" or "not think about it.?? If only they understood. I do not sit in a darkened room and dwell on my loss. I try so hard not to think about his last moments, what he thought, how he did it. I can understand how unhealthy those thoughts are.
How easily they take over and distract you from life. I understand and try to be so thankful for the precious 28 years of his life and the memories that go with those years. I want to move past the loss and remember his life and his love. I try to focus on my other son and my husband and family who are living. But despite my best intentions, the invasion is always there. It erupts when least expected. It battles the positive, and the good and the healing. It thrusts its ugly being into my thoughts, which momentarily takes my breath away each time.
I challenge the grief everyday by making it through each day. I attempt to continue and bring my "life" back. I understand that I have been changed and I accept that fact.
I know that the person I will become will be better and stronger individual. But this grief greedily seeks out my new self and batters at my very soul. It wants me -- all of me. But I refuse to surrender or to have another grandmother, mother, father, sister, brother, and family go through heartache like this if it can be stopped.
Time moves on. It always has and forever will. What you do not understand, is that a lost parent does not move on with time. Like an antique watch, whose owner forgot to wind it and its gears have ground to a halt, a lost parent stops at that moment in time, however, no winding will ever begin the gears turning again.
Nature, and the cycle of life, prepares you for the death of your grandparents, your parents, aunts and uncles and even siblings and partners. Nature, along with the cycle of life, says that time stands still for no one and naturally we live, learn, love, grow old and ultimately die.
This is natural and expected and so we are somewhat prepared.? This is life and everyone dies. Everyone but your child??
The cycle of life says that a child buries their parent; Even though children die every day, still, it only happens to others, not to me, not to mine. Your heart says it is impossibility. And even after the impossible has happened, your heart and mind refuse to accept it.
Why? Because it is not natural; it is not a normal part of the cycle of life.?Do we not create our children? Do we not physically and even emotionally create our children? Are they not true, physical extensions of our own being? How do you think you could possibly go on and be the same as you were if half of yourself is dead?
Finally after a few months and tremendous grieving I have forgiven my self and have prayed off the guilt that I should have known the signs.? Because I was not aware that this drug was in our communities and so close to home that I could not have helped him.?I did not know about this drug to know signs or symptoms of heroin use and would have never thought that my college-aged son was using because he was doing well in school and had dreams for his life.
Not knowing the signs of substance use enabled him to continue using drugs use which eventually robbed him of his dreams and stole his life. Drug abuse killed him.
I can no longer hold the guilt the drug has brought to me. We have choices in our lifetime and I did not make this choice for me or my son.?He made this choice to do what he did and I have forgiven him but it is hard not to accept some responsibility.
Forgiveness, acceptance, grieving and healing comes in stages.?It can be overwhelming and hard on everyone. It takes time.
By sharing my story, I free myself of this guilt so that I may go on, knowing that guilt festers like an open disgusting wound that never heals.?I am healing by letting it go forever.
Since time has passed and healing has begun I have realized so many things that I didn??t realize before.?I know now that even though my faith was tested, it stands firm today more than ever.?I regained my faith by accepting and receiving His love from others who helped me through all of the pain, sorrow and final moments of laying my son to rest. I felt faith and love from those who shared with my grief, understood that I was in a dark place and needed rest and time to heal and let me alone with knowing I would again find myself and who I was before this awful tragedy that seemed to grow out of control.
I was afraid of the darkness and the shadow of death but also know now that if there is a shadow, there is light and God is our light to get us through all things that seem impossible.
Bring awareness to our communities
Look at your child today. Stop what you are doing and thinking and take a moment to really look at your child, no matter how old or how young they are. Close your eyes and imagine, really and completely imagine, never again, not for as long as you live seeing their beautiful face, their incredible smile, the mystery in their eyes. Imagine, never again, not for as long as you breathe wrapping your arms around them and giving them a hug.
Imagine -- really think about it -- and imagine, never, not even if you live to be one hundred years old, never again hearing the music of their voice say, ??I love you, Mom?? or ??I love you, Dad.?? Try, really try to image planning your son??s or daughter??s funeral and then standing there next to a gaping hole dug into the earth while your child??s casket sits there waiting to be lowered into it and then buried. Imagine being handed an urn, and knowing that the ashes within in it are all that remains of your child??s earthly vessel.
Really try to picture yourself in a cemetery, kneeling over your child??s grave on Christmas, Mother??s Day or Father??s Day, talking to and kissing a headstone that lies over your child??s earthly vessel, or clutching an urn to your chest so tightly that your breastbone feels as though it will cave in??
Faith, Healing and Hope is possible, and so is awareness.
Heroin and the abuse of prescription pain pills has been on the rise in the suburbs. It's hard to open a newspaper these days without being hit with grim reports of another death due to opioid medication and heroin. You may also be unaware that drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in Illinois, causing more fatalities than car accidents.
DARE TO BE AWARE
Please let us stand together so this will not happen to someone you love or someone you know.?We need to make sure that we are educating our young people, our parents, our doctors and our healthcare workers about heroin.
No one should die from an overdose. No one can stand alone either.
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