Lizards in the Leaves

Rustlings in the green....imagination, art, whimsy

Sep 18, 2006

Six Months Since Patrick Died

"Let your children be as so many flowers, borrowed from God. If the flowers die or wither, thank God for a summer loan of them."
-- Samuel Rutherford

Six months ago today, we lost our son Patrick.
Two whole seasons have passed without him, yet he has often been present in sweet and mysterious ways.

I'm not sure that I have ever written here about how he died. I think I need to do that. I'm not sure why, but I need to do that. And the story seems to want to be told today.

For two years, our family went through with Patrick the terrible journey so many families go through when a member struggles with drugs and alcohol.

I never wrote about that because I wanted to protect Patrick's privacy. He was so young. I felt he deserved a chance to recover and move forward in his life without his mother broadcasting his problems over the Internet.

The very short version is that Patrick was excessive in everything he did, for good or ill. People always talk about him in superlatives-- 'he was the best metal guitarist' 'he was the funniest guy I know.' When he drank, he drank too much. When he practiced guitar, he practiced for hours. When he did drugs, he did too many kinds and too much.

After his terrible accident in November 2004, in which he fractured every bone in his face, we were grateful beyond words that no one else was involved and that he lived. We thought he would change his behavior. He didn't. The medical and legal consequences merely gave him an almost unbearable burden on top of the burdens he was already carrying that caused him to try to "fix" himself with drugs and alcohol.

For another year, we rode the roller coaster of addiction with him. In January of this year, we began to see changes. His light was returning. He got a better job. He had a better place to live and was expressing some pleasure in simple things like fixing up his "...lair."
He was nicer, more thoughtful.
We thought he was clean and sober.
We didn't realize he was just trying and only sometimes succeeding.
On March 15, he got his driver's license reinstated and he and I picked up the used Malibu we'd bought for him. He and I had the best day we'd had in a very, very long time.
I hugged him and told him it felt like we had just completed a terrible, difficult journey together and a new one was beginning.

I saw him one more time, on March 17, St. Patrick's Day. I hugged him for the last time, standing on the street by his new car. We spoke once more, by phone, around 5:30 that afternoon. I was in my therapy session. Usually I turn off my cell phone, but I hadn't that day.
I said to my therapist, "If it's Patrick, I'm answering it."

I'm so glad I did. He said he had some money in an envelope for me. And his last words were "I love you, Mom."

What we know is this: He was very, very happy that day. Lots of people saw and spoke to him, and that's what they remember. He bought some things at the Dollar Store, he went to the mall. He wound up at a party. He got home around 5 a.m. on the 18th and he put on some music.

Then he just put his head down on the table in front of him and never got up again. The description of the scene allows us the comfort of being fairly certain that his death was peaceful and that he did not suffer.
The official cause of his death was "accidental polypharmacological overdose." A contributing factor was listed: an enlarged left ventricle of his heart. We know from our own research that very likely he damaged his heart from drug use.

He was 20 years and 46 days old.
We do thank God for the summer loan of him.
But the summer was way too short.

Rock on, Patrick....we will always hold you close in our hearts....

" Emptiness is bound to bloom, like hundreds of grasses blossoming."
-- Eihei Dogen, Sky Flowers



At 9/19/06, 10:54 AM, Blogger Dudleyspinner said...

No mother should ever have to bury a child. Ever.

You will get through this, day by day, but the pain will always stab your heart, reading about Patrick it stabs mine.

At 9/21/06, 8:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 11/18/06, 9:58 AM, Blogger Linda said...

Thank you for sharing this. I am so sorry you have had to cope with this! It is terrible to lose a child. -- Linda

At 9/19/08, 8:34 AM, Blogger Greasyming said...

While it is awful beyond words to survive your child... I could never imagine..... He will always be with you and I'm sure you know that he is at peace.... May the happy memories be ever present every day....

At 2/11/09, 5:54 PM, Blogger ChristineMM said...

Thank you for sharing the story.

I linked through from google while looking for images of a certain Noro yarn. I'm a knitting homeschooling mom to two boys.

Just watched yesterday, a Dr. Phil show on drug addiction and teens. Can't imagine it. I want to do all in my power to keep my kids safe but am not sure I know what to do, as so many kids wind up in trouble. I am so sorry for your loss.

At 3/19/13, 6:53 PM, Anonymous Laura Koniver, MD said...

Sending you love and standing here firmly next to your soul light... in certainty that this is only the beginning. (((xoxo))) Laura

At 3/19/13, 7:37 PM, Blogger 'Zann said...

Thank you, Laura! Such a journey it is...


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