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Tell us about your loved one.
"A CONTRADICTION: What can I say about my only child, who brought me an incredible amount of joy in his short life? When he was young, my nickname for him was Sunshine; he was always smiling his wonderful mischievous smile, and was a sensitive, happy child. Later on in his life, even though he struggled with his addiction, he kept his long-term friendships, easily forming new ones, and he had many, many friends. I was overwhelmed at his funeral when over 1,000 people showed up, all ages of people and from all walks of his life. The church could not hold everyone, and many had to be turned away. He made an instant impact on whomever he met. Mostly, they said how much he helped them or how generous he was to them or how he brought a smile to their face. He was blessed with an open heart and a deep compassion for others. He loved the Denver Broncos and loved to go to the home games, and take his friends. Cody was born in Denver and grew up in Arvada, a suburb of Denver, and he attended Catholic school for all 12 years. Cody was intelligent, friendly, loving, funny, generous, and kind---those traits were his glorious light. At the same time, he was depressed, ashamed, guilty, dishonest, selfish, and addicted---those traits were his deep darkness. He loved to help others, but had a difficult time helping himself. He was a wealth of contradictions, and I didnâ€™t understand why for a long time. Not until I learned about addiction as a disease did I start to understand my son. I spent nine years second guessing every move I made to help him, and kept trying to figure out how to take him out of his pain. What I believe now is it was never up to me to take him out of his pain; only God could take his pain and suffering away. There didn't seem to be any other solutions available for him. He completed treatment 5 different times; each time coming out with the hope of staying sober. He didn't want to be addicted; he called it his 'beast', and it won out.
Tell us about Cody's struggle with addiction
THE BEAST: Cody struggled with his addiction for almost ten years, from the time he was 16 until he passed away from a heroin overdose at age 26, on September 25, 2013. He was working that morning at his wholesale produce business, making his normal deliveries in his van, and stopped to get high in a parking lot. He wasn't found until the next day, when the police found him after I reported him missing. No one had heard from him for over 24 hours, which was unusual. He had just completed treatment at one of the best treatment centers in the country nine months prior to his death. He was struggling more than ever, and he told me "Mom, the beast is back". I knew he was in deep, deep trouble, and I felt absolutely helpless. What more could I do? Nobody seemed to have the answers to treating his addiction effectively. Cody was a healthy young man until addiction ravaged him physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. He played sports in high school; basketball, baseball, and all four years on the golf team, He played competitive soccer until he was 14, and was an avid snowboarder. How he went from these normal, healthy activities to hospital stays, detox clinics, treatment centers, and emergency room visits, was incomprehensible to me. The only explanation that makes any sense is this; he was sick with the disease of addiction. His family has alcoholism on both sides, and he grew up around alcohol. Cody started with alcohol and pot in high school, and progressed into the hard drugs from there. He was in and out of treatment centers and sober living houses for five years. When he started abusing Oxycotin, his addiction became much worse. He moved from pain pills, which were expensive, to heroin. It is the same epidemic story we parents keep telling over and over; prescription pain pills lead to heroin, which leads to overdose and death. I want it to stop and for society to look at addiction with compassion, instead of judgment.
What made Cody smile?
HIS FRIENDS: Without a doubt, Cody's friends made him smile. Those relationships were the most important thing to him, and when his friendships began to dwindle because of his addiction, he suffered even more. He couldn't go out and have a beer with them or go to a bachelor party or drink champagne at a wedding or any of the things his friends were doing at the time. This was hard on him because his friendships meant everything to him. His friends knew he was struggling, but they felt helpless, too. They wanted Cody to get better, but they didn't have any answers, either. If love could have cured Cody of his addiction, he would have been cured by his friends. Two of his best friends were brothers, and they had been friends of his forever. At the funeral they gave their eulogies, and spoke so lovingly about Cody, it broke my heart. Why isn't love enough? I believe addicts are living with a deadly disease, and they are constantly trying to fight it, usually alone and scared.
What do you miss most about Cody?
HIS ESSENCE: I miss who Cody really was, without addiction in the way; his truly beautiful soul and his free spirit are what I miss the most. He accepted people for who they were, no matter what the circumstances were in their lives. I miss his playfulness, his authenticity, and his intellect. I miss playing golf with him; he taught me how to play, and it was our special time together. I miss watching him play with his beautiful daughter, and seeing the love for her in his eyes. I miss listening to his stories about his business; the excitement of a new customer or potential new customer. I miss watching him and his dad interact, loving each other despite the difficulties in the past. There is a hole in my heart and I am wounded, and that won't change. I feel his presence some days, and I am grateful because I know he is free of his addiction and finally at peace. I want to remember Cody's essence; his beautiful soul and free spirit will live on in my wounded heart forever.