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Tell us about your loved one.
When our son John was born it was magical. A boy, easily named John because his father and both grandfathers were named John. Life was easy then. I had only a short time after he was born before I had to return to work. Leaving him was difficult, but luckily I found a woman who was interested in making some extra money and John was her first client. Carol became a friend that cared for John for all of his elementary and middle school years. He was an easy baby and as he grew older he fit the definition of "all boy". He was handsome and charismatic but also competitive. He always wanted to ride his bike, skateboard, or snowboard faster than anyone else. He loved baseball and was a Red Sox fan, just like his maternal grandfather, and followed them until the day he died. He became the older brother when his younger and only sibling Alexis was born in 1984. It was a typical love/hate relationship. They had mostly different friends growing up although some overlapped. He was a ladies man, always concerned about his appearance. Most of the neighborhood girls were in love with him and many ladies came through our house. There were only a select few that remained. High School years were typical, he later admitted that he slacked off until he realized he needed to get into college so he put the pedal to the medal his Senior year and graduated with overall excellent grades which got him into the University of Delaware which was a mile from our house. I wanted him to have an on campus experience, so he moved to a dormitory in Sept. 1999. His maternal grandfather died in Oct. which was hard on him. Just before the end of his first semester, he was falsely accused of sexual assault by a girl he knew in the dorm. It took almost three years before the charges were dropped and this charge was expunged, but the emotional damage had been done. I will always believe that this was the beginning of the end. He died 6 credits shy of a Bachelors degree.
Tell us about John's struggle with addiction
As a teenager, we were aware that he was drinking, as were all the neighborhood kids. I guess we also sort of knew he smoked pot, again as most of his peers did. His first true love was a beautiful girl and they were a happy and beautiful couple. However, infidelity, on John's part destroyed that relationship and this fueled his need for self medication. Along with his difficulty coping with his legal issues, he obtained a couple of DUI's that left him without a drivers license and ultimately required some jail time. All of this downward spiral increased his use of prescription drugs. He was diagnosed with ADD and was given a prescription of Adderall, which he learned to miss use and was exposed through off campus parties to pills like Percocet. Some of his friends from that time told me that none of them knew the dangers of taking drugs such as these. They did not know how addictive they were. John was always trying to "feel normal" as he would say. It never, ever occurred to either my husband or I that he would ever make the horrible decision to use heroin. He and I were extremely close through these times. We talked about his drug use and he promised me he would never do that, and unfortunately I wanted to believe him. His behavior, days sleeping and up and running all night became routine. My husband and I were at odds on how to deal with his issues. I could never have kicked him out, I could not have lived with myself. After he told us he was using heroin, as shocked as I was it was my job was to save him. He had told me many times that he wanted me to call the police on him because in jail he couldn't use. Several stretches of being clean, then something would trigger a relapse. He hated his life, he hated hurting us and he was in constant emotional pain. He dealt with this issue for 12 years. Our lives were in turmoil for 12 years. His pain finally ended on 5-5-11. I would go through it all a million times if I could have him back.
What made John smile?
Almost all of our family pictures of him show him smiling, certainly in his early years. He loved to fish with his grandpa and sister. He loved baseball. He would spend hours at our local batting cages. He loved playing little league. He loved almost all sports. He loved girls, especially Pam and later in his life Trish. Trish's son Sam made him laugh and smile. He loved us and he loved his sister. He loved Oscar, his Jack Russell Terrier that he called his "Babe Magnet". Oscar is our grandpuppy and is now 13. He loved my beef stew and peanut butter pie. He loved school. He loved Dr. Lin Gordon. He loved sticking up for the underdog. He always said he wanted to go to a poor Spanish speaking country so he could improve his already good conversational Spanish while helping others. He loved many things and all of them made him smile. An infectious, beautiful smile. An unforgettable and loving smile. A smile like no other. A smile that is etched into my brain forever.
What do you miss most about John?
Everything. I miss everything about him, his smile, his loving hugs, his wonderful sense of humor, his smell, his compassion, his fragility. I will forever miss the entire package of my "Beautiful Boy" and a huge part of my heart is broken forever. He is my first thought when i wake in the morning and the last thought when I close my eyes to try to sleep. It is very hard to believe that I will never see him again or hear his voice and I will miss everything about my son until I take my final breath.