Easter has come and gone. It was pretty uneventful. We had chocolate, big meal, more chocolate, lots of kids running around. Normal stuff. Saturday night while I was making desserts for Sunday (Saturday I spent a lot of the day out of commission from a Friday treatment) all the kids were milling around, trying to find something to eat, so of course we ordered pizza at 10 at night. I mean, who doesn’t do that? After my cakes were in the oven, I had to wait for them to finish before I could go to bed, and while I was waiting, I decided to watch Long Island Medium. I love this show. I know there are many that will debate that it’s a bunch of crap and there is no way Theresa talks to dead people. To that I say, don’t watch the show then. I don’t know what we don’t see, parts of the show that are filmed but not aired, but I believe our souls travel with our family when we pass on. There has to be something on the other side, otherwise, it’s just down right depressing.
Nine times out of ten, I’m crying by the time the first commercial rolls. The losses some of these people have are completely horrifying. Mothers who have lost multiple children, a women who ran over her kid by accident, lots of people with parents that have crossed over. It’s sad. Death is sad. That we continue to live on after our loved ones die is sad. And usually I watch it and think two things: A) I want to talk to dead people too and B) I’m really glad that these people get some closure to their great loss. But I had no idea what I was about to encounter with the episode I started watching this night.
She was surprising a man at a fire station. The man knew who she was immediately (side note: Who the hell doesn’t know who she is? It always surprises her that people know who she is… there are just not that many people who can talk to the dead. I mean, besides that kid from The Sixth Sense, of course) and was frightened by what he was about to hear. The man’s son had passed away, and he, the son, was also a fire man. He was a lieutenant on the fire department actually. The son had slept through most of Easter Dinner several years back, and the father was upset with him. The son got up off the couch and headed out with his friends. The father was very annoyed, so when the son came in late, the father didn’t get up to talk to him. In the morning the son’s alarm clock kept going off for a long time so the father finally got up, angry, to tell the kid to get the hell out of bed, and found his son dead in his bed from a heroin overdose. This is not a new story. Many parents or loved one of an addict found there addict dead from an overdose. I did find that sad, but not shocking. When the guy was saying his kid slept all day, I said out loud, he is probably an addict. I was not surprised by the overdose. What made it so shocking for me, was the fathers reaction. He said to Theresa I don’t know how I didn’t know.
That is a sentiment a lot of parents feel. How did we not know? I am several years into JoDee’s addiction, and she is a chronic relapser, I haven’t seen a ton of her daily choices change to lead to me believe there won’t be another relapse, and yet I still think, how did I not know. I didn’t know. He didn’t know because why would he? I found myself thinking about the father a lot. I found a compassion for him, that I can’t find for myself. The man kept saying if he knew he could have done something. He never even thought about his son being an addict because he held a job, a good job, a fireman. He couldn’t imagine that his son, a responsible fireman, could possibly be an addict. I wished I could tell him, it can happen to anyone. Addiction knows no prejudice. It takes all prisoners regardless of occupation, finances, sex orientation, religion, race or gender. It is not a reflection of his parenting or even of his son’s judgment. That sounds so contradictory, that addiction was not a reflection of the son’s judgment. But that’s true. I can’t explain the inner workings of an addict, or what that particular addict was feeling to make him pick up the first time, or even what my addict was feeling that made her pick up the first time but the truth is, no one who is feeling great in life, is not depressed, is not struggling with something, says hey let me pick up this heroin to see if it makes my life even better.
I thought about that Dad a lot. I felt so bad for him that he was so shocked, at the son’s death. Most of us, us being parents of an addict, know our children our addicts. If JoDee were to overdose and die, I would be devastated. I would be heart-broken and a piece of my soul would die with her. But I would not be surprised. When you do drugs, when you shoot up heroin, you risk death. Every single time. It’s going to happen eventually. Play with fire enough, you will get burned. The amazing guilt that I felt, and sometimes still feel, at the discovery of JoDee’s addiction was/is paralyzing. I can’t imagine finding out about her addiction at the time of her death. His son died with secrets with him. His father didn’t have a chance to even try to do anything. He didn’t have a chance to learn anything about addiction or go through the process. I have been the gamete with JoDee so if she were to relapse again, and the worst possible thing were to happen, I would be angry at addiction. I would be angry that this disease grabbed by daughter to ruin her life, but I would have an understanding of how that happens. Granted, I hope this never happens, and more importantly, I could be completely naive because the truth is my child has not died, so I can’t say for sure what I would do or feel having never experienced it. What I do know, is why that father felt so jilted.
Of course, there is the other side of that. What if I never knew? What if JoDee was just un-revivable in her room one morning and that was how it was for us? How would I react to that? I remember when I first found out I was determined we weren’t going to tell anyone, she was going to go to detox, get it out of her system and resume her normal life. I will never say I was embarrassed by her, because I was too worried to even think about that. But I definitely think that I wasn’t able to fully process the implications of having an addict for a child. It wasn’t until I went through the process, heard the messages, and attended meetings that I realized that addiction breeds in the place we don’t want to talk about. Dealers hope we are embarrassed and addiction plays on the premise that no one will want to admit that it’s infested their family. Addiction will spread and grow the longer it isn’t addressed. The only chance any family member has to help an addict is to make it uncomfortable for them to use. If everyone knows, no one gives them money or believes their lies. If it’s out in the open, it makes it impossible for them to come around high or begging. I’m certainly not saying that this is the cure, because it’s not, there is no cure, there never will be as long as it considered a social disease instead of mental and physical disorder. But it’s a beginning to the end.
If I could talk to that man, I would tell him that I am sorry he lost his son. I would tell him that I am sorry he found his son like that. And that even if he knew, the process would help him understand that addiction was something he could not control. Him being the man and his son. I would also tell him that there are parents, like me, who have known, and done everything we can, and the end result is the same. Today, I’m fortunate because JoDee seems to be doing well. We spent a great day together shopping and watching Food Network. I am grateful for these days because I am reminded that my daughter is in there fighting to come out. And, I always keep it in the front of my memory that it could change at any time.