Putting your grief into words is indescribable. Our family’s life was forever changed by an unspeakable tragedy when we lost our beautiful boy, our 21 year old son Cody, to a heroin overdose. This monster stole his dreams, our dreams, and the wreckage left behind is un-navigable. There is no healing, no moving on, your life is now work that you must think about attending each and every day.
What does addiction look like? Surely not my gifted, gregarious, smart, compassionate son? Cody was the athlete that everyone wanted to be. Cody was talented, and smart. He had a beautiful girlfriend a family and friends that loved him beyond words. He loved his little brother, his dog, and He was one of the most caring, compassionate people on this planet. I truly believe that his caring, loving soul was too good for this world. He died in our home, in his bedroom.
What most people did not know about Cody is that he suffered from severe anxiety and depression. Like so many, his decent into addiction began with prescription drugs resulting from several sports injuries. After his one and only stint in treatment, he was clean and we had our boy back. Then, at a job he loved…..the worst scenario for someone in recovery, a horrible near death accident. Seven surgeries and daily doses of the strongest opioids available, for nearly 12 months. He struggled with the pain and tried to manage the medication. He knew he was in trouble, I knew he was in trouble.
The day my boy left us, I walked out of my body and never went back. I remember hovering over my body, seeing myself sitting on the floor, seeing those around me talking-but not hearing a word. I thought to myself, “thank god, I’ve died too.” Then, I remembered my other son, my only other child, he would be getting out of school, I had to get to him before he saw all the commotion at our home. Just then, as if he knew, he called. “Mom, I’m done with practice, can you bring me a sub.” I told him he needed to come home. He said “why, is it my brother?” Before I could get a word out, the phone went dead. I will never forget the look on his face as he ran from his car to sit beside me, he took my hand, cried, and I knew at that moment, he was no longer 16, he was thrown into a nightmare that will haunt him forever.
I am now unrecognizable to myself and those who knew the ‘old me’. My soul is so intertwined with my sweet boy’s soul, I can’t get my feet on the ground. I still can’t imagine my life without him.
After 3 months in bed and a family intervention, I knew I had to be Cody’s voice. I refuse to let my beautiful boy become just a statistic. I became an advocate in our state. Meeting with our lawmakers, creating a foundation in his name to help those who cannot afford the gift of recovery. And most importantly, educate anyone and everyone who is convinced this could never happen to them.
I am a bereaved mother, forever broken, struggling to find meaning in all this pain. I’m angry, frustrated, and most days, hopeless. Addiction is so cruel. The guilt consumes me. I want to tell him “I’m sorry I couldn’t get to you.” Until I see my Cody again, I will continue to live between life and death.