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Tell us about your loved one.
My son, George David Maras ("Georgie"), was my only child, and an addict for 25 years. He was my entire world, and I miss him every minute of every day. He began drinking and smoking pot when he was 13 years old, and escalated to heavy cocaine use by age 15. He was in and out of rehab numerous times, but always relapsed. I saved him many times by sending him overseas to family members. He traveled extensively, and would do well abroad, but always returned home to the same neighborhood. In later years, there were drugs to be found in the countries he would be living in. He was later diagnosed as bipolar, which exacerbated his drug abuse. The drugs would exacerbate his bipolar illness. A car accident in 2002, driving stone drunk, left him with numerous injuries, including a traumatic brain injury. However, Georgie and I shared many beautiful. fun times together during the periods when he was not getting high. These are the moments I focus on in my grief journey. Georgie loved children and loved animals. The children he took care of babysitting are now adults and remember him fondly, with love. Georgie also loved sports and watched football, baseball and basketball every season. He was a wonderful chef, whose delicious cooking could be detected before walking into the apartment. He even created his own secret sauces. At a young age wanted to attend culinary school, but couldn't raise the funds. Georgie was also brilliant in math, and could calculate instantly without using a calculator. He could have been anything he desired, had it not been for the drugs. He fell in love several times, the third time winding up in engagement. Unfortunately, his engagement ended as a result of a manic bipolar episode. His former girlfriends, however, still remember him with love to this very day. Georgie was special, not because he was my son, but because he had so much to offer. All has been lost, as I try to keep his memory alive as long as I can breathe.
Tell us about George's struggle with addiction
Georgie began smoking pot and drinking at the "gateway age" of 13. As I stated previously, he escalated to heavy cocaine use by age 15. By 16 he was arrested for stealing a car radio, and was sentenced to probation with sealed records. Later that year, not being able to endure sleepless nights, crying, searching the neighborhood for my teenage son, and almost losing my job, he finally entered rehab. He spent 20 months out of a 24-month program. He was clean for two years, having graduated from high school at the rehab facility in full cap and gown ceremony. It was my proudest moment! Six months after rehab, Georgie relapsed. He was in rehab several more times over the years, but nothing seemed to help. Georgie was dealing drugs, using drugs, and escalated to heroin. He also began freebasing. There were several suicide attempts, perhaps to cry out for help. He had several run-ins with the law, and once served 30 days in jail, swearing he would never go to jail again. Every time he got too deep, over his head with drug dealers, he turned to me for help. I always helped my son, except when I discovered drugs in my home. At that point I made him leave. Georgie told me that he found it difficult to control the urges to use drugs. During his early years, he claimed that he really liked getting high. However, when he reached his thirties, he reflected on his entire life and told me that he threw his entire life away on drugs, and really wanted to stop. He died two months later.
What made George smile?
Georgie loved children. He used to babysit his friend's two small sons so that she could attend college for her first degree. He worked the midnight shift, and would travel to her home by 8:00 a.m. He cooked for the kids, vacuumed, played monopoly with them, and made sure they cleaned up after themselves. The boys are now grown men, and still miss him. They loved Georgie more than their abusive father. Georgie would have made a wonderful father because of his love for children. He also loved animals. I helped him adopt a kitten from the vet's office. He took such good care of her, thanking me for her. He said that he didn't feel alone anymore, and would play with her, feed her, clean her litter box, and have company at night when she jumped on the bed and curled up next to him. Sadly, even the kitten couldn't prevent him from overdosing. When he was in the hospital for several months, he lost his apartment, and I had to return the kitten to the vet. Children and animals made him smile.
What do you miss most about George?
I miss everything about my Georgie. I miss his strong bear hugs; I miss his wacky sense of humor; I miss his warm personality; I miss his voice. I miss his presence, and grieve his loss every single day. He was a wonderful, kind and generous human being. He had a gentle heart, but apparently was too weak to withstand the pull of drugs. Nothing can ever be the same without him. I know that we will meet again one day, and feel that he is watching over me for now.