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Tell us about your loved one.
Philip was the best brother, friend and person you could ask for. Fiercely protective of anyone he loved, he would literally give you the shirt off of his back if he even sort of thought you needed it. He lived to make people laugh and make them feel loved and happy. And he was my best friend. I am sure anyone who you asked would have a different story that was "classic" Phil, but mine comes from when we were about 4 and 2. We were in the locker rooms at the YMCA after swim class, and he heard someone not being nice to me. From the little boys' locker room, he comes storming into the girls' room, stark naked and screamed "YOU LEAVE MY SISTER ALONE." That, more than any story ever, tells you who he was, to me and lots of other people. He was my protector, my best friend, and my favorite person.
Tell us about Philip's struggle with addiction
He started to slip a few months before our mother died. I had finished college and moved to New York while he stayed in Baltimore working in the restaurant industry he so loved. But within a year, he had coked himself literally out of house and home. By March he was living at home again; by June the same year, our long-ailing mother died. That's when he really went off the deep end. The heroin, pain pills, Fentanyl started. When we got back from our mom's funeral, which he'd driven back from with only me in the car, I got out and told my father something was wrong and I was not getting in the car with him again. I wish I'd known what was wrong then, but even if I had, I am not sure I could have done much about it. I was too shell-shocked myself from our disintegrating family, and probably not quite old enough or sophisticated enough to know what to do anyway.
After a truly awful year, though, he seemed to be doing better. He moved back to Baltimore, was working, and seemed clean. The night of August 4, he went out with friends, played pool, and they all went home to bed. About 5 the next evening, his best friend called my cell, his voice cracked and he said, ""Margaret, I have some bad news. I just got into the apartment. I think Phil's dead.""
That was the worst call I have ever gotten. I hope Shatterproof and organizations like it, with the help of us as supporters, can keep others from ever getting that call."
What made Philip smile?
Everything. Silly jokes, dancing and singing in inappropriate places, horribly ugly shirts that he favored as a wardrobe.
What do you miss most about Philip?
Some people talk about finding a person with whom they can grow old, and it's a marriage thing. I had that person from the time I was 18 months old till August 5, 2004. He was "my person," as they say. My best friend, protector, personal entertainment. And not just for me - for everyone. In losing Philip, the world lost one of its better people.