When we met, our life style was a bit intoxicating. We loved to party, and I can’t remember a day where we were actually sober. We were always drinking and having a blast, living our life just as we wanted. We wouldn’t have it any other way. If it wasn’t one drug it was always another. His personality was perfect for a girl like myself. Did I know what I was getting myself into? Not at all. At that time, did I care? Most definitely not. I alone was the type that loved going out and being that “spontaneous, wannabe rebellious, teenager”. However, when I met him he introduced me into a world of simple dangers with the ideal adrenaline rush. I was hooked.
As we sat on the porch swing one night, we reminisced on our past, telling each other our secrets & insecurities. We talked about what we wanted out of life. I could tell he was nervous but unsure why. He then proceeded to tell me one of his most regrettable secrets. He asked me not to judge him, and as I nod in agreement he went on to tell me about his recent past. He told me he had recently gotten out of rehab for a heroin addiction. I told him I would never judge him. I was 18, I had no idea what that really meant. I didn’t know the severity of it, and in all honesty I was just pleased to know he felt comfortable enough to tell me about something he was so uncomfortable with. But holy shit, I only wish I knew then, what I know now.
Fast forward a few months, a ton of parties, a few black outs & sex for days later. On May 6th 2008, I had a good friend of mine take me to a local grocery store. I stole a pregnancy test. When I got home I sat on the very swing where he had told me his deepest secret. I had two cigarettes, and thought to myself, “It’s probably nothing… Most likely a hangover from hell”.
I went into the bathroom where my older sister was anxiously waiting, I took a deep breath and peed on that damn stick. Within seconds all I could hear was my sister telling me what a fucking idiot I am. Tears ran down my face and my heart, I thought for sure, I was beating outside my chest. The anxiety took over; the adrenaline rush I felt was not the kind I was asking for. I was pregnant. I walked into the living room where he was enjoying some ice cream with my two younger sisters. He just sat there and stared at me while idiotically asking “what’s wrong?”. His face blank, he stands up and so simply walks outside. The next nine months are a blur of raging hormones that caused nothing but an over emotional teenager that wanted nothing but strawberries and chocolate.
January 3rd 2009 was the absolute happiest most terrifying, yet blissful moment in my life. There, I held the world in my arms, blessed to experience true love. I kissed perfection on her beautiful little lips and admired her faultless round face. A “whopping” 7lbs 14oz of pure love. We made our own little human being and we called her “Bug”. From that moment on I felt so much closer to him, nothing in this world would tear me apart from him. I remember one night at the hospital he had come back from hanging out with a few friends. He was acting different. Very emotional and upset over little things. I didn’t really understand what was going on but I took it as, “we just had a baby, he’s feeling overwhelmed”. It was the only logical explanation.
As time went on a whirlwind of heartache took over my life, as well as my family’s. Shortly after our daughter was born I got the devastating news that my dad’s cancer had come back and it had spread all throughout his body. Although I had a new born baby I took on the responsibility to care for my dad while my mom and sisters worked their asses off to keep the roof over our heads and food in our bellies. It was such an emotional time but we all fought through it and my dad fought only as hard as he could.
On May 11th 2009, only five months after Bug was born, my dad was taken from us. For several years that memory haunted me. How is it that we can bring life into this world, a treasured moment that is so unexplainable, with feelings that overwhelm you in such a way that you feel as if you can’t even breath, and yet, with such an unfair amount of time life is taken from us.
A heartbreaking, painful moment that is so unexplainable, with feelings that overwhelm you in such a way that you feel as if it is undeserved to breathe. Some people would say that we were lucky that we lost him due to cancer. That he wasn’t taken from this world by the harmful hands of another, lucky that he was not lost and never found, that we had the answer to his demise. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Nevertheless, he was a father to five beautiful young girls, a grandfather to two beautiful babies. He was a husband, a brother, a cousin, an uncle. He was loved by us and although he wasn’t taken from us in a matter of wrongdoing, he was taken too soon. In our eyes cancer was pure evil. In my eyes, it was almost as if cancer was a form, a being if you will. It had one goal and preyed on all of his imperfections turning them into a poison. A poison that ran rapid throughout his body until it could feed no more. Cancer was the harmful hands that wrapped its grip so tightly around him until he gasped for air and took his last breath.
Although months have gone by, I tried so hard to fight the grieving process. Like a fairy from Neverland, I struggled through so many emotions but could only handle one at a time. But through it all I had him. My boyfriend, he was there for me. He was there for my family. Although we still had our ups and downs. I can remember a night where we had a few drinks. We sat in the backyard smoking a cigarette. I was crying, talking about my dad and how much I missed him. A silence took over and we just sat there. When he decided to break that silence with an unsettling confession. I’m not sure what it was that made him want to tell me but I’m glad he did.
“Do you remember the night in the hospital, after Bug was born, when I came back from hanging out with the guys?” I was unsure where he was going with this but I continued to listen. That’s when he told me he had used again. He had a tiny taste of his worst enemy but his only true love. Heroin. I was upset, shocked even. but still had no idea how serious it could have been.
As we grew as a family we had our lighthearted moments as much as we had our hardships. The relationship between him and I seemed to slowly fall apart. I don’t think it was because we didn’t love each other, but the possibility that life decided to throw all its bullshit our way. He had a criminal background, it was harder for him to find a job. He had his jobs here and there but I was the breadwinner. We had our fights and our bitter arguments over money and overdue bills. At that time, I had met a girl, we worked together & a friend is what I called her. If only I knew. She, like everyone else, had her demons and chose her poison. Prescription narcotics. The more we hung out the more I started popping “treats”. I remember wanting to tell him. I wanted to enjoy the experience him. What’s the harm? I had gotten some treats from her and took them home. I gave him a few and had some myself. That’s when life took all its bullshit back. No one was to blame for my bullshit. For our bullshit. Not life. Not karma. Just us.
The night I ran into that person who had “blues”. She was selling them cheaper than anyone else and that’s when the lightbulb in my head exploded! I called him right away and pitched the idea to start selling treats. Not just any treats, but blues!! Financially it would help us tremendously. I wouldn’t have to stress as much! (It’s only now I wish I could take all those selfish thoughts back) And so, that’s what we did. I was right, we made bank! But using them only got worse. He would get so sick. I didn’t fully understand why. I thought he was being dramatic. A cry baby. And then I started getting sick.
When we didn’t have any more we were both on edge but holy fuck, he was just mean, annoying and well, gross. I will never forget the night we met up with her to give her, her share of the money we made. I was so angry with him because he was being such a cranky asshole. He was sick. I got that. What I didn’t get was his sick, and my sick were two completely different levels of sick! I had told her, without telling him, that we were done. I couldn’t handle dealing with his moody ass anymore. I just wanted the old, happy guy back. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The guy she was getting them through stopped getting them, so of course she stopped getting them, which obviously means we stopped getting them… well, from her. Eventually I was over it. I hated feeling like shit all time so I stopped altogether. In doing so, I of course expected the same from him. I was a fucking moron to say the least. He was 7 years clean! And I selfishly took that away from him.
a highly addictive analgesic drug derived from morphine, often used illicitly as a narcotic producing euphoria.”
Or as I like to call it, the devils poison. I never really knew what it was like to be part of an addicts’ life. Heroin doesn’t just suck the soul out of the person using, it rips it out of the people around them. The people who actually give a shit. I love him and he’s worth it. I love us and we’re worth it. But most of all I love her, and she’s more than worth it! She deserves a healthy happy daddy. He was her world and all I wanted was her to be his. Of course he loved her! She was the world’s biggest daddy’s girl! But in his own little world, at this particular time in his life, his one and only was heroin. It’s a pure, manipulating evil little bitch. Once it has you in its grip, it’s an all-out war to be set free. And even then, you’re never truly free.
There are two sides to every addicts’ story. There is his and then there is mine. He used, he was sick. It wasn’t just the drug. It brought out fucked up mental issues that hid behind the walls in his head. You can’t “fix” an addict. That my friends, was one of the hardest things to understand. I wasn’t using, I’ve never used heroin in my entire life! How dare I tell him to “get over it!” How dare I judge him when I promised him so long ago that I would never do such a thing! This was so much more. This was something I thought I could handle and yet here I am writing this because of memories instilled into my brain that will never go away!
I knew he was using something, I just didn’t know what. I knew he was depressed but I never really tried to understand how depressed and miserable he was. I was just angry. Angry that I was going to school fulltime, working fulltime, trying to be the best possible mother and a selfishly supportive wife! Angry that I was trying so fucking hard to be the glue that holds us together and he was just there. But that’s where I fucked up. I should have stopped and realized how hard he was trying and how he wanted nothing more but to be happy.
But for him it didn’t matter how far he reached out, I always pushed him away. The night I found out he was using again was only because he had broken down and told me his attempt to… well, you know. And even then, I didn’t stop to think of him. Just of me. Me and our daughter. I was livid!! How?! How can he possibly be this selfish! Fine, fuck me!! But what about her? You know, the six-year-old little girl that looks up to you! That fucking loves you and all your fucked up imperfections!! And then it all fell apart.
May 11th 2009, the memory of my dad laying lifelessly in his hospital bed, with wires and tubes coming out of every orifice of his body, is no longer the memory that terrorizes me. It doesn’t haunt me like it used to. I got to hold his hand, and give him a kiss on his cheek. I got to whisper my goodbyes and give him a hug. “until next time! I love you dad”. He’s at peace and I know that now.
July 11th 2015. This is the memory that creeps up on me and will set off a full blown panic attack. this is the memory that likes to fuck with my head so viciously. Unfortunately, I will never forget that day. This memory has been shoved into every crevice in my brain and as hard as I try to forget it, there are days where it will pop into my head and scream FUCK YOU!! Only to taunt me.
I had let him come back after telling him to leave. I couldn’t handle it. Seeing him so sick. I don’t mean dope sick. I mean the kind of sick where I felt like I had no idea who this person was anymore. The man I loved was lost. I mourned for him. Although he stood right in front of me, it felt as if he wasn’t there. The addiction had ripped him away from me. It laughed in my face and mocked me as it ran through his shriveled dead veins. But I let him come back. I needed him to physically be there. I wanted to be the one who was able to find him again. I craved for the man he used to be, the man that was buried beneath all the drugs and depression. I had to find him. For me, for her, but most of all, for himself.
That night everything felt okay. We had a great night, we were a family. I had my beautiful little niece over, my younger sister over & we had a few drinks, we ate, we swam. All was well. We went to bed, and we were happy. That morning I woke up to his movement in bed. I roll over and we say our good mornings. He gets out of bed and asked if I wanted breakfast. “Yes of course I want breakfast, especially if you’re cooking!”. I can hear from my bedroom the girls playing in the living room, I hear him going through the pots and pans and I soon smell food cooking. And then I hear the bathroom door close. I decide to get out of bed to check the food. He was making breakfast burritos. Both the girls are still playing in the front living room so its him in the bathroom.
I start cooking where he left off and yell out “babe, how many do you want?” No response. I asked a couple more times. I knocked on the door, nothing. I asked Bug if daddy had taken his headphones in the bathroom with him, and she shrugs while nodding yes. I went back into the kitchen. And I hear it. A crash. I knew the sound; it was Bugs bath toys. But I continue on. I finally go and start pounding on the door, yelling out his name, asking if he’s okay. I look underneath the door and that’s when my heart dropped. His feet facing the ceiling, I start to panic. I try frantically to open the locked door. I can’t focus. I ran to wake my sister and the second she saw my face she was out of bed. I have no idea how the hell she did it, but that door was open in a matter of seconds. That day, she was our angel, I’m sure of it.
I now cherish my last few minutes with my dad, I realize how lucky I was to be able to say my goodbyes. There he laid, on our daughter’s bathroom floor, blue as a fucking smurf. An allergic reaction due to his new meds? An asthma attack? What the fuck is going on?! No, Neither. There it was. The needle. The spoon. How was I so fucking naive?! And as I turn my head there they are. My daughter. My 3-year-old niece. I scream at my sister to take the girls back to Bugs room, all while screaming “CALL 911!!” I didn’t get to hold his hand and whisper my goodbyes. I didn’t get to kiss him on the cheek and tell him, “until next time” No. I got to lift half his lifeless body out of the bathtub, I got to perform CPR and beg him to come back, this is not your time. I got to plea with god to please make this right and I swear I will help him through this hell. And there it was. His color!! It was coming back. I’m begging him to please say something, anything. “why?” his first word was why! And I knew exactly what he was asking.
Because, I love you. Because I’m selfish & you are mine & not gods to have. Not yet. Because you are worth it and you deserve to live a happy healthy life. Because you fucking matter! And although you may not see it, you are brave! Brave, because you wake up every morning fighting the same demons that left you so tired the night before, and that my love, is why.
The 3 of us, we have our story and it will only continue. I don’t expect happily ever after but I won’t settle for “the end”.