There at the counter in the kitchen sat my beloved son, chin resting on the counter. I have never seen a dead person before and yet, somehow, I knew. He was gone. My baby, my only son, my rock was gone.
It was June 13, 2010. I had looked forward to this day for almost a year. My great-niece Dusty as getting married in the sleepy, little town of Roundup. Even though it was only a short drive away, my husband, sister and I opted to rent a motel room for the night and just “get away from it all.” We knew we would more than likely have some drinks at the reception and it just seemed like a good idea to spend the night. The wedding was beautiful. It felt so good to be home after so many years away. I had designated myself black sheep of the family many years before and had very little to do with my family. It was especially bad after Mom and Dad passed. There just didn’t seem to be a need for a family get-together. We talked, we visited, and I saw people I hadn’t seen for years. I was carefree. My son was at my house with his daughter and his niece. It felt so good to know he was eight months clean and sober from prescription drugs. I had let him come home again, and he willingly submitted to my “random” drug tests. So far, he was clean every time. Praise God! My son was back. He had accepted the Lord when he and his daughters were living in the Rescue Mission Family Shelter. Now he was the old Jimmy I used to know before the addiction had broken every rule and every trust and stripped our family of all that was good. I tear up at this point in my writing because what self-respecting mother would ever have their son living at the Mission? Well, I have an answer that doesn’t satisfy even me these days: I was trying to show him that this is where addiction got you. I was also trying to bring some sanity back to my own home. When there is an addict in your home, things spin out of control.
The wedding was over and we had done a whole lot of visiting and very little drinking. We were hungry. Little did we know that Roundup had not even so much as a gas station open, so we opted to go ahead and go home.
I called my son to check in and let him know we would be coming home. Jimmy sounded a bit sleepy, but it was 3 a.m., after all.
Dread overtook me as I was speaking to him. Oh my God! His children’s mother was there with him! I could hear her talking in the background. She was not to be at the house. What was she doing there? Was my son using again? Why was she there! These thought raged in my head, but I very calmly asked Jimmy “Why is Mary there?”
“Please Mom, don’t be mad,” he said. “She didn’t have anywhere to go and she wanted to see the kids.” I was torn because I loved this girl as my own, but I also knew she was still out there, still using and I was scared as hell that my son was using, too.
I felt the most overwhelming dread. It was like someone was stepping right in the middle of my chest and slugging me in the gut at the same time. I felt physically ill. My husband and sister tried to console me, but the crushing feeling would not lift.
We pulled into the drive way, and I went to the door with a mixture of dread and anticipation. Dread because I knew my fears could very well be realized. Anticipation because I wanted badly to be reassured that my fears were unfounded. I walked in to the house and walked straight to my bedroom. I was startled by the fact that my daughter-in-law was in my room on her hands and knees, looking for something on the floor. I calmly asked her what she was doing and she raised her big brown eyes up to me and said “Huh?”
I knew at that instant she was high as a kite on prescription medications. I had been down this road so many times in the past 10 years with my son that I knew the nodded, dreamy look. I knew the irrationality of crawling across the floor because you couldn’t walk. I had seen it so many times. I felt a mixture of pity and revulsion. I loved this girl, but what was the answer with her?
I was so tired. All I wanted was my bed and a good rest before facing tomorrow and dealing with the task of asking Mary to leave our house. Tough love is exactly that — it’s tough. It never crossed my mind to go to Jimmy’s bedroom to check on him. After all, he had his addiction whipped. My son was okay, now.
The next thing I was conscious of was someone beating on my door and screaming hysterically. I bolted from my bed, my husband right behind me. I jerked our door open with such force that I tore a hinge off completely. My daughter-in-law was standing at the door screaming, “He’s dead! I think he’s dead!”
I am feeling a bit nauseous at this point in my writing and the words are not coming so easily now. The site that greeted me is forever etched in my mind. There at the counter in the kitchen sat my beloved son, chin resting on the counter. I have never seen a dead person before and yet, somehow, I knew. He was gone.
My baby, my only son, my rock was gone. My husband called 911. They tried to help, but deep in the recesses of my broken heart I knew my son was gone. Events from here on out are sketchy. I remember the horror of that plastic backed paper sheet covering my son. I remember the horrified screams. I know not if they were coming from me, or my daughter-in-law or Jimmy’s little girl. The chaos was unbelievable, the pain unbearable, the questions unending. I didn’t give a fig what funeral home was to pick up the body. My God, that was my son. This process took about two hours while my son lay cold and lifeless on the floor. Autopsy? Go ahead, but I knew what he died from. Prescription drug overdose. I didn’t need anyone to tell me that. I needed someone to tell me why I couldn’t save him.
The next few days flew by in a blur of numbness and pain. For about three weeks, all I really wanted to do was sleep and cry. I was actually mad because I was alive. I wanted to die. Gradually, I pulled myself out of bed and went to fall semester. I passed my classes but remember little. I cried at the drop of a hat. I hated myself and everyone around me.
Today, almost eight months later, I still cry a lot. I’m crying now and I reckon I’ll probably cry until the day I die. There is no pain like losing a child. I am forever altered in my life. I am not the same person anymore.
Parents, be aware of what’s in your medicine chest. Teens are getting high all the time on their parents left over medications. Those who take medications such as opiates that the doctor prescribes for you, be careful. Thank you for taking time to read this. I know I’m not a writer but, this somehow has helped me along my journey.