Life & Recovery - One Mother’s Story
The thing that I have learned about life is you never know what or who lies on your journey and the places it will take you. The journey will enlighten you and expose you to lessons and experiences that will make an impact on you forever.
One of my journeys began with my son Matthew (Matt), “gift from God”. My gift was born on February 5, 1984. My gift was adorable, sweet, affectionate, charming, annoying, kind, funny, compassionate, mischievous, sensitive, and at times, sad, lonely, anxious, and insecure.
School was an overwhelming obstacle for Matt (not the friends or the fun!). Failure and anxiety had become part of Matt’s journey.
Super mom, that would be me, was to get this all straightened out. A new journey commenced, that of advocacy, tutors, counselors, therapists, learning interventions and accommodations, IEP’s, doctors, medications, vitamins, whatever it took. Medication seemed to help but it was apparent that Matt was also self-medicating; our journey become more challenging.
Several years into Matt’s work life he was injured on the job and that resulted in nerve damage to his arm. Doctors opened the door wide for Matt to access opiates. Matt grabbed on with both hands. On Friday, August 5th, 2011, I discovered that Matt was using heroin. My heart, soul, and spirit shook. Understanding that possible recovery would be a dynamic, grueling, complex process. I knew I needed help in order to support Matt.
Family Anonymous meetings became my anchor. There I found love, support, understanding, acceptance, friendship and a new family. I learned to pray a new way from my friend Colleen. It wasn’t about praying for my outcome but strength to handle whatever the outcome. One evening at my house, I held Matt in my arms as he cried and wailed for me to please help him. His pain pierced my heart. His years of addiction made him a person who was suffering biochemically. He was altered and an abyss of pain. I knew I could not fix this or him, and all I could do was love unconditionally.
On Saturday, September 21, 2013, Matt, my gift from God, lost his battle with addiction. His wails were now my wails. My journey through grief was going to be life long. How do you say goodbye and live after you have lost your child? My strength comes from my daughters, Erin and Cathaleen, my grandchildren, my dear friends, FA, and my faith.
Over were the overwhelming feelings of worry, anguish, terror, and fear. They were replaced by loss and sorrow that brought me to my knees and how grateful that God was kneeling with me. As I continue on my grief journey I embrace every single moment I had with Matt. Matt’s life and death have made me a kinder, more forgiving, grateful, tolerant, loving person.
The first morning of my sorrow I woke up, I got out of bed, dressed in a cute outfit, did my hair, put my make up on. This is a promise I made to myself and Matt that I would do everyday. Matt, in his charming way often said to me “mom, you look good, you are a pretty cute lady”.
I still have nights I cry myself to sleep, but I get up, I breathe in my strength, and I put on a little extra makeup. This is my gift to Matt, my gift to God.
PS My heart overflows with pride for Grace Recovery co-founders, Leah, Rebecca, and Natalie. Thank you for loving Matt unconditionally.