Another Christmas is upon us. With COVID still disrupting our lives, it’s been another strange year (they even had to cancel some current NHL games! Now that’s not acceptable. Watching my team play is a favorite pastime. Let’s Go Ducks!)
For me, last Christmas was still so close to Keven’s death that I didn’t really acknowledge it. I was living in a fog. This year my family will celebrate when my niece comes down here to visit next week (she recently moved 5 hours north).
What are you doing? I’d love to hear, drop me a comment if you can (I found out that unless you’re subscribed to this blog, you can’t leave comments - who knew?).
My book has been in the editing process for a while, and it is getting closer to being finished. This has been the most challenging part of writing, knowing what to leave in and what to take out. Wondering if I made my points clear?
I’ve shared the introduction to the book with you. I appreciate every person who reads here and wish each of you and your family a Merry Christmas.
The intro is very important. Thanks to Virginia VanNess, Monica Rulon and Matt Cardinale, it sounds better than what I had originally written!
My son Keven and I often talked about writing a book together. Then, a few months after he died, I faced writing it alone. Keven and I wanted to share encouragement and hope for those struggling with substance use and mental health issues, and their families. He always thought of this book as his “happy ending”. Sadly, Keven did not have a happy ending, but his journey mattered. His life mattered. The events leading to his death contain a serious message for every family.
Keven was my only child. He took his life after battling substance use for many years. He was tortured by the voices in his head telling him he was worthless and a loser. Keven’s heart was full of love for his family and his friends–but not for himself.
As parents, most of us would do anything to save our child from the outcome Keven chose for himself. Did I fail my son? Could I have saved him? What would have made a difference? Was he failed by the systems in place that should help people with mental illness and substance use disorder? And what about those who belittled him and looked down on him because of his disease? Why is it called a disease when so many see it as a moral failing or a character defect? Why do insurance companies treat is as if it’s not the same as other diseases?
These are some things I talk about within these pages. I don’t have all the answers. I have the story of one young man who is not unique – there are hundreds of thousands like him suffering from substance use in our country and many who are losing their lives to it. This book was hard to write, but I want Keven’s story to be of help. By sharing my son with you our experience, I hope to bring to light the foundational dangers that render countless lives lost to opiate overdose and suicide. These dangers are:
· stigmas and judgements associated with substance use and mental illness that cause pain and hopelessness
· the greed and failures inherent in the drug and recovery community
· the indifference of the government for allowing drugs to continue crossing our borders (should I include this ????)
· the newest danger to the current generation of young people – fentanyl
I believe change starts with a few people and spreads to the masses. Changes in the above won’t happen unless we’re all on the same page. I hope my journey will encourage you to reach out to someone who’s hurting and realize a little kindness goes a long way. Compassion and understanding aren’t just niceties – they have the power to give hope. The thousands out there struggling each day to try not to use drugs, to find help, to believe in themselves – need us.
I love you, Keven; you are forever in my heart. Your life mattered.