“I’m writing this letter to apologize to you. I feel that as a mother, I’ve failed you in so many ways. I remember when you were a little boy, and how happy you always were. You brought a smile to everyone you would meet, with your infectious laugh and caring heart. You would walk up to strangers in the supermarket and wave your little hand and yell, “Hello”! People would look at me and say what a handsome boy you were. You were always the apple of my eye, and your father would show you off every chance he got. We would put you to sleep and talk about all of the dreams that we had for you. You have always had such enthusiasm for life. I never doubted that you would be successful, and you approached everything with such confidence. I’m so sorry that I didn’t notice when that began to change.
I remember when you turned sixteen. Dad and I were so excited to hand you the keys to that old beat up car. We knew that even though it wasn’t perfect, you’d add your own special touch and make it something to be proud of. When you opened the box and took out the keys, I thought the indifference you displayed was normal. “He’s a teenager”, I told your father, and we both shrugged it off. I wish I knew then what I know now.
You started going out more, and staying out later, and I never blinked an eye. Isn’t that what kids do as they grow up? I thought I knew who your friends were, and I thought that by giving you space I was being a good mother. I didn’t want to smother you, and drive you away. I wanted to be the cool mom, the understanding mom. I thought that by giving you space, if something went wrong, you’d come and tell me, knowing that I wouldn’t judge you or make you feel bad about yourself. No news is good news, right? How could I have known that you’d start experimenting with drugs and alcohol?
When you went off to college, of course I worried, but I worried for the wrong reasons. I worried about you making new friends, and being away from home for the first time. I worried about your teachers, and class sizes. It never even occurred to me that you were not just partying on the weekends, but every day. To be honest, I knew you’d probably be going to parties, and drinking, but heroin never even crossed my mind. How does a smart, funny, popular kid turn to a drug like that? My biggest concern was that you’d be too hung-over to go to class.
When your grades started slipping after your first year, Dad and I just thought you needed to learn how to balance school and social activities. We both went through that ourselves, and we thought that our past experience could help you. We talked to you about the importance of getting enough sleep, and I even bought you a planner, because I thought that you just needed some help getting organized. It seems so silly now.
I’m sorry I didn’t notice when you started taking care of yourself less and less. When you came home for Thanksgiving break, I remember being taken back by how skinny you looked, and how unkempt your facial hair was, but I brushed it off and made a mental note to give you money before you left so that you could buy food. You were so quiet and withdrawn, but you said you were just tired. I didn’t notice the scratching and confusion. Looking back, there were so many warning signs of heroin addiction, but I made an excuse for each one. Your runny nose was because of a cold, and nodding off at lunch was because you stayed up too late. Heroin never, ever crossed my mind. When you ran up to your room after dinner and locked the door, I waited for a bit but then went to check on you. I thought that maybe you were having girl trouble. I knocked, and asked if everything was ok. You said you were tired and going to bed. I was satisfied with that answer. I never dreamed that at that very moment you were shooting up in your room. How does a high school student who got decent grades become a college heroin addict?
By the time your father and I found out what was happening, it was too late. Getting that call from the police was an earth shattering moment, but we felt lucky that it wasn’t worse. You said that was the wake up you needed to get clean. For a while, things seemed like they were really improving. You talked about going back to school, and seemed to be excited about things again. How could I know that on the inside you were constantly battling? I’m so sorry that I didn’t do more. I’m sorry that I didn’t see through the façade that you put on. I’m your mother, I should have known things weren’t perfect. You would think that after your arrest for heroin possession, that I would be more perceptive to things. I didn’t realize how well you learned to hide your pain, and hide your addiction. If I could go back in time, I’d have more conversations with you about drugs. I should have paid more attention to where you went and what you did when you were younger. Most of all, I wish that I had gotten you the right kind of help when you couldn’t hide your heroin addiction anymore. I should have known that addiction is a disease, and should be treated as such. If you had been diagnosed with cancer, I would have moved heaven and earth to make sure that you were seen by the right doctors and received the right kind of care.
I can’t believe that we are going to lay you to rest tomorrow. I can’t believe that I have to say goodbye to my little boy. I am so, so sorry. With all of my love, Mom.”
I wrote this letter to my son the day before his funeral. There were so many things left unsaid, I felt as though I should put them on paper. For a very long time, I blamed myself for my son’s heroin addiction and untimely death. If only I hadn’t been so naïve. For many years, I played the game of “should’ve, could’ve, would’ve.”
Years have passed and I now realize that while it is not my fault that he passed from a heroin overdose, there are some things I could’ve done differently. I should’ve followed my motherly instinct and confronted him about his addiction. When he didn’t get well from the first drug rehab center he went to, I should’ve realized addiction isn’t something that could be cured, and it was going to take more than a month for him to heal. Furthermore, I could have sought help for myself and mine own denial, as so many suggested I do, but I was too stubborn to see that I was suffering too.
So, as hard as it if for me to share this letter and my story with you, I feel as though I am obligated to. If there is one mother or father out there that may benefit from this letter and get their child the help they need, then it was all worth it in the end. If I could possibly save one life, then maybe my Matthew’s death wouldn’t be in vain. If you’re child or loved one is suffering from heroin addiction, or you are suspicious of their behavior, please confront them and get them help. Addiction does not care who you are. Its only mission is to kill the ones we keep so close to our heart!
Contact Clearbrook Today
If you or a loved one is suffering from heroin addiction, it is time to get help. We hear countless stories of people, especially young ones, dying every day from drug addiction. For more than 40 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been providing treatment to those afflicted with alcoholism and chemical dependency. With our state-of-the-art detox facility and inpatient treatment program, we can help you or your loved one safely withdrawal from heroin or other addictive substances, and begin the journey to wellness and recovery.
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