15 years later…

Last night as we snuggled up for movie night, I could not have been more at peace and in love with my family. Earlier that day I had contemplated letting the kids go out and panhandle for candy, but they didn’t want to at all and I didn’t want to shell out $60 for last-minute costumes. Halloween does happen to be the most important solstice of the Wiccan religion(I studied Wicca intensely as a youth) and that doesn’t quite thrill me either. So instead Dad brought home some candy, we ate pizza in front of the tv and then we spent time together, with the kids in our arms. It’s not hard to feel grateful for the life I live. Of course I will always have little quirks and issues from my life “before”, but I appreciate all of this deeply.

I went to bed earlier than everyone else and as I lay alone drifting off to sleep I began to count the years. 15. It’s been 15 years since one of the most defining moments in my life occurred. I think about the friend, the one who died. I have let him and the sadness surrounding his death go. What I grieve more is the person in me that died the day my parents handed me that rose and told me he was gone. I will never forget my Mom and Dad on either side of me, holding me as I sobbed and sobbed. I am grateful for the gentle, compassionate way I got to find out that one of the people I had attached myself to so deeply had died of a heroin overdose. Up until that point I had dealt with hardship and I had felt pain, but that was the first time I ever felt loss. There was such a gigantic, gaping hole in my heart. I would wake up in the morning for months afterwards and rush to the shower so I could cry. I was so young and not prepared for that. I was just so sad.

He died one week after I had left New Jersey and moved into a women’s home. I was 17, the youngest girl they had ever taken in at the time. Now they have teens come all the time. The Walter Hoving Home was my haven. It was a mansion once lived in by the owner and founder of Tiffany’s and it was high up on a mountain in Garrison NY. I could see West Point Academy from my bedroom window across the river. My time there was very special to me. That place was my place, my special mountain and I still go there in my head sometimes. I was able to distance myself from friends who had once cared about me and I cared about them, but like me, let the drug take over and we all ended up just caring about the drug. It was on this mountain that I met Jesus Christ. At first I was resistent to Him. I was suspicious, judgemental and I asked a ton of questions trying to prove their religion a hoax. I didn’t find being a “born again” appealing and I was dead set on making it out of there with my sobriety and nothing else.

After many, many questions, debates, and people loving me through the anger, I met my Lord. I stopped talking to my dead friend in the sky like he was God and I began falling in love with an indwelling Lord. It was a very, very long path to healing and it happened slowly. There were times it hurt just being alive. I felt embarrassed for mourning. I had never lost anyone, and I had once fallen in love with this person, as much as a heroin addicted teenager is capable of falling in love. I couldn’t believe that out of all the people who could have gone, it was my person.

The years that followed were slow. I talked about him with my brothers, with my friends, with their friends, and rarely with my parents. I don’t think they liked hearing me talk about the person who began giving me my first lines of heroin at 14. Up until I had my first son, my life had consisted of two parts… life before he died and life after he died. That’s how shocking and significant and traumatic this was for me. I had to deal with feelings and emotions that I wouldn’t face again until I was an adult and much better prepared. No one is ever prepared for loss, but I was a wreck to begin with.

When I couldn’t sleep last night, I got back up and now it was only me and hubby. All the kids were sleeping. We talked. Gosh, he’s so great and understanding. He lets me talk and he listens. I have one of the good ones. I am sad because I had to grow up fast. I am sad because this day is the anniversary of such a defining moment in my life. I am sad for the young girl who had no idea what was coming and for the pain she- I- would have to endure. I wish so badly I could go back and tell her about the wonderful life in Christ that I would live. I wish I could tell her that I didn’t have to let this death hurt me for years. I wish I could tell her to get some closure sooner.

Today is 15 years since a piece of me died. Not because the person had a piece of me, but whatever youth and innocence I had (which wasn’t much) was gone. It changed me. It happened and I’ll never know why, but it took the last of my childhood away. So every year at this time I remember my friend. He was older than me at the time by 2 years. He seemed so much more, but now I see that he was just a kid. And he was lost too and it could have been either one of us who died, but it was him. I am so sorry for that. I am sorry for that every time I see his sister’s status update on facebook. I know she still suffers. I think about his family and I feel a twinge of pain. I am so sorry for all of it. But I am not in mourning over him anymore, I am in mourning over the girl I was and what that incident took from me.

For every sentence in this blog there is a Scripture that would fit nicely as my comfort and believe me I have looked up many over the years. But the Lord never promised that I would be safe from pain or loss. He never promised that He would prevent it from happening. He did promise that He would be my Comfort and my Beloved. I fact, I have grown closer to Him and known more of Him through my pain, which is pretty standard. When I look back and see how the chain of events unfolded, I see His mighty hand in all of it. I was checked into that Home only days before this happened. I was surrounded by Christ and women who loved Him dearly for almost a year after. I was in the safest place I could have been and I hadn’t even given my heart over to Christ yet. I see all of it so clearly now.

Most of us have those moments and those people, the ones that change us and the ones who we never forget. My moment is that day in the log cabin used as a gym when my parents handed me a rose and bravely told me news they wish they didn’t have to tell. And the person was a boy, but the one I mourn today is the little bit of kid who was still left in me, who died on the spot.

I have a beautiful life today, better than I deserve and more than I ever asked for. I love my family so much and no one has ever loved me better than my boys. My kids see the good in me and are so quick to forgive my flaws. They want to be with me all the time, even when they sleep. It is such a precious life that I have been gifted with. As I type this today I sense Christ’s presence with every passing thought. Christ can do all things, including give life. As the old nature died and I have been aligned with Him in new life, His life, I recognize that I am a child in Christ. I have been given everything that was taken and more in and through Him. I am so thankful for this life.

Thank you for reading and have a happy November 1st,

Love,

Jackie

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