We talk about a lot of things as if they didn’t reflect a real person and a real life.
Addiction is one of them. And let me just tell you, every single number is a life and behind every single life is a family.
Statistics are easy to toss around until one of those numbers represents YOUR child.
My son was not an addict. He was a health nut. But he liked his motorcycle and never saw the contradiction between spending hours at the gym then putting that beautiful body on a fast moving, unprotected engine-on-wheels. A helmet was not enough to save him that night.
Addicts don’t start out wanting the life so many of them end up living.
I admit I’m full of words. When my mama came to pick me up when her best friend was babysitting for awhile, she said, “You can’t have her yet, she’s telling me all kinds of things!”
More than once my mouth got me in trouble.
It’s still the source of most of my problems.
But for a time after Dominic left I found that the only words I could muster beyond what was absolutely necessary were written in my journal. Because the words I wanted to say were bitter and harsh and tasted bad as they came up my throat and threatened to roll off my tongue.
I hid this post in my draft folder for months before I published it the first time.
It seemed too raw, too full of all the pain inside my mama heart to put out in the wide world for everyone to see.
And then it was time (like now) to change the flowers on the place where my son’s body rests and I couldn’t stand it anymore.
I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, “THIS IS NOT ALL THERE IS OF MY BOY!”I wanted to stop people on the street and make them listen to his story, to give away a piece of him for others to carry in their hearts.
My son is not a number or a statistic or only a memory.
He is integral to my story, blood of my blood and flesh of my flesh–part of my life.
I rest assured he lives in heaven with Jesus but I miss him here with me. That’s selfish, I know. But I can’t seem to help it.
I spent long hours with Mama in the last years of her life.
That gave me plenty of time to mine her memory for details of stories I’d heard for years but never took time to really listen to closely.
I knew (although I had no idea how soon it might happen!) that I wouldn’t have her forever. I wanted to gather all the bits and pieces I could hold that would remind me who she was, who she loved and what made her unique so I could always, always remember.
When she left us last September I felt like I had a treasure chest of tales and precious mementos.
It wasn’t that way with Dominic.
I never imagined I’d need such a thing.
I never thought I would be the one left behind with questions about what motivated him to this or that, go here or there, what brought him particular delight or made him stay awake at night.
Time was on my side.
He was young and vibrant.
No need to dig for bits to tuck away in case he wasn’t here to ask.
Who wants to air the good, the bad and the ugly for everyone else to see?
When I began writing here I decided to share what I was learning, what I was wondering, what I was feeling and what I was struggling with in hopes it might help another heart.
Even then I was uncertain how authentic and vulnerable I could afford to be as I spilled my words across the Internet for all to see.
But nearly five years later I’ve discovered that telling the full tale, publishing the ugly, hard, unsavory bits as well as the shining moments and victories is the only real way to be of help to anyone else walking this path.
My story can be someone else’s survival guide. Yours can too.