Unwelcome Reminders & Another Anniversary

(Translation into most languages at tab to the right)

“We were trying, all of us, so hard, and he just wanted to live.” (1)

Ursula Rauh said this about her brother, Tommy, after his death from a fentanyl overdose and a dozen stints in rehab in ten years. He became addicted to Oxy’s at 23 after being prescribed an unlimited amount for tendinitis and a year later, another prescription for wisdom teeth extraction. Sam Quinones retells the family story in The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Times of Fentanyl and Meth. “The tragedy wasn’t just the death of her brother; it was all the time, effort, love, and pain that the family traversed, the hoping and living for the smallest encouragement.” (1)

When my husband, John, and I returned from Australia in May, we decided that we needed to address the decades of files we had saved and ‘stuff’ we had accumulated and ‘stuffed’ away in closets. We have shredded and recycled dozens of boxes of documents, cleared out half the books in our library, and now I have moved on to scanning and sorting thousands of photos. While I was pulling bins of photos and albums out of closets, I came upon a few more file bins. I sighed out loud to John, “Oh boy…more of JL’s file’s I’d forgotten about.”

In the year or so following our son’s death in 2014, I had slowly sorted through his files: school records, university records, all the pertinent files related to closing bank accounts, phone service, and filing for a death certificate etc. As time has passed, I had forgotten that I had left these file bins that have medical/recovery records and personal notes and information from the year or so before his death.

These bins, waiting for my attention, are unwelcome reminders. Of the son we loved so much. Of the failure to understand the insidious nature of opioid addiction. Of our inability to help him find a path to free himself. Of the addiction that clung to him like a second skin. I still cry painful tears over a life of such promise cut short.

Today, August 2nd, is the 8th anniversary of our son JL’s death from a heroin overdose. He was 25. (For details of his life, our life, and his death, read Opiate Nation: A Memoir of Love, Loss & Acceptance)

For my husband and me, we echo the sentiments of the Rauh family and all the other families who have lost children and loved ones to the drug epidemic of the 21st century:

“We were trying, all of us, so hard, and he just wanted to live.”

  1. The Least of Us, pg. 101, https://samquinones.com/

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