If on the morning of June 20, 2016 you would have told me that in the three years that followed I would lose two of the men I loved the most to heroin overdoses I NEVER would have believed you. But unfortunately that is exactly what happened.
On June 20, 2016 at around 10:35 pm I saw my dad’s name on my caller ID and I knew it was not a good thing. When I answered he pulled the rug out from under my life and said, “your brother overdosed on heroin. Your brother is dead!” This is in no way a reflection of my other brother but my reaction was “which one?” And then he told me it was Sam. My precious little brother was dead. WHAT?!?
Sam had a full-time job. Sam had a long term girlfriend. Sam had lots of friends and was liked by many. Sam was the life of the party. Sam was so precious to me. And heroin was still able to kill my brother.
Since then I have found a lot of comfort participating in the End Heroin Bham walk and helping to raise money so that maybe I could help save someone else’s brother. Each year since Sam died “Team Sam” has raised the most money at the walk. This past year, my father walked up to me at the walk, with tears in his eyes, and said “your brother would be so proud of you.” I can still picture the look on his face. His words made me feel so good and proud and somehow close to my brother. Little did I know, a few short months later heroin would shatter my world yet again.
On the morning of May 31, 2019 my sister called to tell me dad had not shown up to work. Both of his cars were at his place, and I knew. I knew he would not just not show up to work. I feared that he, like Sam, was gone. My father had struggled with heroin in the past, but he had been clean for a decade. Despite this, I knew. We called the police to go into his apartment. When the police officer did not immediately walk back out of my father’s front door I could barely stand up.
My dad had a full-time job he loved and that he was good at. My dad had a great relationship with his children and grandson. My dad stopped by my house several times a week to say hello. My dad was the life of the party. My dad and I went swimming three days before he died. My dad became the father I always wanted and needed when my brother died. My dad was so precious to me. And heroin still killed him.
I had NO clue my brother or my father were struggling. I had no idea that heroin addicts look like you and they look like me. They have full-time jobs and love their families. They can be the life of the party while still feel like they’re dying inside.
I did not know. I also did not know that heroin does not care who you are or how much you love your family. Heroin does not care how much your family loves you. Heroin does not care that you are doing a job that you love. Heroin does not care what you look like, how old you are, what religion you are, how much money you make…it DOES NOT CARE….it will take you and destroy you and everything you love.
After my father died my grief got to be so much that I could no continue to carry it all. Thankfully, someone at the APC told me about a grief group that was taking place. I did not know anything about it but signed up anyways. Going to this group was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Learning about what grief is and how to deal with it has changed my life. Two weeks later I went to Atlanta to get certified to lead these groups. Helping people through their grief has given me so much life. I love it so much. Since I would likely never have found this grief work if my father had not died, I think of it as his last gift to me. And for that, I thank him every day.
So please come to the End Heroin Bham walk and stand with me. For all of those who have died. For all of those who have lost someone. For all of those who are struggling right now. For all of those who are working hard in recovery. For all those we can help live! The only thing I know to do is stand together against heroin.