I'm nursing an almost fatal wound. In fact, I'm surprised that I'm still here, still nursing it and feeling it slowly scab over, only to have it ripped open and the healing process begin again.
The wound is over 6 years old now and by my reckoning (and many others') it should have been well healed with no visible scars by now. It is not natural for a wound to take so long to heal. I've been told in cases of people suffering from diabetic ulcers or even from cancer, that wounds from those illnesses can, and quite often do, take a long time before they're healed.
But this wound is different. This wound cuts deep into our emotional and physical well-being. This wound is, in fact, far deeper than any ulcer and longer lasting than any other wound. This wound is non-healing. I know this now.
The scabs that form, I've come to learn, are just temporary. I know that at any moment they can be yanked off of me, ripped away with all the strength of a Kodiak bear's jaws. The pain is intense and long-lasting.
I can be engaged in conversation with you and some innocent remark on your part can set the ripping process in motion. And you will not even know it. You will be looking at me, completely unaware that the scab has either just been yanked away or is slowly peeling away, revealing inner and deer layers of hurt and pain, until finally I am absent, with no strength to carry on. I must escape to some place, any place where I can scream from the pain, cry and vent without you or anyone else knowing how I'm feeling – because you would not understand.
Without you have suffered the same deep, penetrating wound, you would be clueless as to the depth of this pain. And I would not have it any other way. As has been said many times in many circumstances, "I would not wish this on my worst enemy."
My wound occurred in the wee early hours of the morning on December 2nd, 2002, when two police detectives arrived at my front door with their cutting, slashing words, stabbing me so deep in my heart that I almost fell to the ground.
"He passed away at 10:30." My son, my baby. Dead at the age of 31 years, 4 months, and 3 days … and not just dead, but dead from a drug overdose! The double whammy!
My son, the Paramedic and RN who was caring, compassionate, kind and loving. Now gone from my life forever. But the scab is not gone. It stays here on my heart waiting for a word, an event, some trigger to rip it off again. Even writing this account of his death is causing the scab to begin peeling away, with the pain intensifying and I am brought to my knees again by it.
I am compelled to continue writing about it though. Addiction was my son's disease, it was not the essence of his life. We must keep writing and talking about addiction because its effects are far reaching. Everyone knows someone who has addiction in their family or circle of friends or acquaints. There is no escaping it today.
Until we eradicate the stigma of a drug-related death and as long as we keep their addiction in the closet, many addicted people will fear speaking up and admitting they are struggling with addiction. We can not let this continue to happen. As much as it hurts, and as painful as it is to have that scab continuously ripped away, we have to keep on speaking out. We have to advocate for our kids. For every parent who has suffered this almost fatal wound, there are many more parents who sadly will join our ranks, who will hear those fateful words – your child passed away!