This Christmas, I’m Missing Son

Our son was a 4.0 student who found his calling assisting and counseling young men with disabili­ties in Fresno, CA. He was a very smart and caring person who had a love for life, all around beautiful human being. His favorite pastime was playing his guitar and reading. He was incredible on the guitar self-taught. I remember sending him to guitar lessons, when he was in JR High.  He came to me after a few classes and told me “Mom I need to give this instructor lessons” Needless to say he did not go back.  He was in a few bands one of which toured California. They sold a few CD’s. Not the kind of music I listen to but I loved listening to him play acoustic absolutely beautiful.

In his late 20s, Ryan developed kidney stones. To ease the pain of passing them, the doctor from a Fresno, CA emergency department prescribed 90 pills of oxycodone. At the time, I worked for an Oral Surgery Group and I had know idea what they were. The strongest medication our office prescribed then was Vicodin.

The opiates seemed to flip a switch. The addiction seriously happened sometime during that 90 pill treatment.

Within months, Ryan was buying pain pills on the street, and the addiction spiraled down­ from there.

Ryan knew he was in trouble, seeking treatment at a methadone clinic without even telling the family. He decided it was time to tell us when I found some pills in his room and questioned him about them. He told me he was scared and new he needs some other kind of treatment, more intensive treatment.

He underwent a 1 year outpatient program with a Suboxone rehab. He was doing great. He had been clean for a short period and he was getting healthy again.  The family had been telling him it would be best for him if he stayed away from his “OLD SO CALLED FRIENDS” aka Dealers. He decided he wanted to move to Oregon. We put on Amtrak for Oregon not realizing that would be the last time we saw our child. He’d been in Oregon about a year, working for Portland Rescue Mission as a cook and was in transitional housing waiting for an apartment to open up, when in December, 2014 he was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, he underwent emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix. Again, doctors prescribed oxycodone. I cried when I found out he did not tell them he had an opiate addiction. He had told me he was fine and taking them as prescribed. I do not think he realized or wanted to realize that by taking these he would throw himself back into the demon. Seeking out opiates and withdrawals

On Jan. 13, 2015, staff found him in the shower at the transitional shelter. He had overdosed on heroin. He was 32.


On Aug. 12, 2016, what would have been Ryan’s 33rd birthday, the family scattered his ashes at sea near Pismo Beach, CA “his favorite place.” It was a perfect day, with sightings of seals, dolphins and whales. It was a beautiful site. We felt him there with us. We miss him every day. I do not feel this pain will ever go away. I would give anything to have my child back.

We have never hid the fact that opiates caused his death. I talk about it to anyone that is interested. I talk about it at work and in my personal life. I just want to help other families. I do not want to see others go through this gut wrenching pain. Within a few short months after Ryan’s death, I connected with other Mothers who had children that died of overdose or had children in recovery from their addiction. What’s astounding is how many families are affected by this epidemic, yet try to keep it silent. It’s so very sad.