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Steven Herren
Age 24
24

Steven's first entrepreneurial efforts manifested as early as grade school, when he produced and sold illustrations to the highest bidders among his peers. He was a dedicated friend, giving a foot massage to his buddy with a broken leg, volunteering to protect his boys and take the fall when they were caught red-handed, and was always ready for an adventure. Steven studied the Tao, watched countless films, and played video games with passion. He starred in his middle school musical, and then later completed the training regimen that prepares Navy Seal candidates for hell week. His specialty was A/V production, and he aspired to produce music. He will be remembered for many things, but especially for his cleverness, his loyalty, and his big heart.

Steven fought hard against his demons. When he finally asked for help, he was determined to get well. He spent three months in a rehab facility in Utah, far from friends and family. He came home and continued his treatment, attended meetings everyday, worked hard to stick to his post-rehab plan, reconnected with friends, began developing an expertise in A/V production, spent time with his family daily, and made us all so proud of him. He was over 90 days sober when he died of an accidental overdose.

Introduction

Steven Lee Herren, gentleman, philosopher, and total hunk, died in his home on Monday, December 12, 2016, at the age of 24. Steven is survived by his parents, Sheri and Jeff, his sister, Laura, his stepparents, Richie and Jackie, and his stepsister Allison.

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Geoffrey Sypher
Age

On Friday December 23, 2016, we said goodbye to my son, Geoffrey A. Sypher, 34. Geoffrey was a beautiful soul, an amazing son, brother, and uncle. He adored playing with his nieces and nephew because, in part, he was a big kid himself. Christmas with Geoffrey was fun because he was so excited to get presents and we always had to remind him that he was an adult and he had to wait his turn. He was an avid fan of the Giants and the Red Sox and he made sure everybody knew it. He loved fishing with his father, his best friend. Geoff had a twisted sense of humor and a brilliant sarcastic wit. He was also a supportive champion of the underdog. His big green eyes and his smile were unforgettable. Geoffrey left a lasting impression. Despite all of these amazing qualities, Geoffrey suffered. He fought a long, hard battle with addiction, but the monster was too strong for his sensitive nature and gentle heart. Addiction stole the potential of this gifted man from his loving and devastated family. It is our quest to help end the stigma of addiction.

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Matthew Paul Daszuta

Age 40
Father, Son, Brother, Uncle, Friend
Matthew Daszuta
Age 40
40

His date of birth was November 24th 1973. Matt was a wonderful father to our two boys and a dedicated police officer.

His struggle with addiction was so intense I don't really know if he understood it and I know the deeper he got into it he didn't feel good about himself. When he was retired from the Melbourne Police Department as a police officer I don't think he felt like he had a purpose. Even though he was a father, sometimes that's just not enough for a lot of us. We had a career our whole life and all of a sudden it's taken from you.

His boys, being a police officer, helping the ones in need and removing the criminals off the street.

His laugh, his jokes, being a dad to our boys

Introduction

Matthew Paul Daszuta I was born 11-24-1973. He passed away on 10-2-2014 at just 40 years old. Matthew went into the Air Force as a law enforcement police officer after graduating high school in 1992. I met Matthew in Germany while we were stationed at Ramstein. We were married November 9th 1994. We had our first son Jamie Matthew Daszutar June 1995. We had our second son Dylan Douglas Daszuta July 2000 we traveled around a bit since I was still in the Air Force force five years after Matthew got out. When Matthew got out of the service he became a police officer in Arkansas, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Melbourne, Florida. Matthew was hurt several times on the job, always on the SWAT team, working as much as he could to provide for his family. I was a paralegal so we lived a really comfortable life. Unfortunately, his injuries on the job led him to numerous knee surgeries to both knees and shoulder surgery which led him to retire on disability when he was just 34 years old. From all the pain Matthew was in he went to a pain management doctor. Also, the VA was a regular doctor who initially prescribed him oxycodone and Xanax. As we all know oxycodone, being synthetic heroin, is very addicting, and Xanax is very addicting and very hard to get off. I think the pain got so overwhelming for him that he eventually went to what's referred to in Florida as a pill Mill dr. Where this former OBGYN, now a pain management doctor, had pills readily available in his office--no prescriptions needed. However, the pills were excessive. I couldn't have asked for a better father to my two boys. Also, Matt and I were Persian Gulf veterans. I was also a K-9 police officer in the Air Force and a paralegal and I now work for the disabled American veterans filing veterans claims. Since I know the VA system very well, I thought finally when Matt agreed in May 2016 to get help, how could the VA not find one bed for long-term substance abuse for one combat veteran in the entire United States. Matt was finally willing to go. He was on a waiting list and in August of 2016 the VA suggested that I take him to detox in Gainesville. I did, expecting him to stay at least 30 days. They discharged him in 8 days. After 2 weeks of him being on Ativan and Suboxone, he went to the VA clinic to get them refilled and they told him that was for inpatient only so our option was to take him to another VA emergency room, which I did at West Palm, another two hours from our house and he checked himself in. Once a veteran checks into a detox they cannot leave on their own. They are locked in until the doctor says they can be released. Once again the VA discharged him within 6 days. The next week Matt overdosed on a variety of pills that were prescription pills from the pill Mill dr. I feel the VA failed them. The pill Mill dr. is still in business. We have filed a complaint against the Florida Department of Health and they're in their third stage of investigating the excessive prescription pills.

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Brandon Jay Flanagan

Age 34
Son, brother, father, partner, friend
Brandon Flanagan
Age 34
34

He was engaged to my daughter; the father of my grandson. He was so intelligent, kind, hard working, and gentle. He was a good father. He had just bought his first house, painted it inside & out...he kept up the yard, and was very proud of his home. He loved the outdoors; cycling, sailing, hiking, and enjoying time with his children.

He was addicted to crack cocaine; had given it up and struggled to stay clean for the last six years of his life.

His children, animals, sailing

Everything

Introduction

Brandon was a gentle, soft spoken, kind hearted young man. He loved the ocean, sailing, biking, spending time with his partner, and two children. He worked with computers; he could build or fix anything. He loved animals, especially cats, and they loved him back. We love him and miss him every day.

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Jordan Greene

Age 31
Father, husband, brother and son
Jordan Greene
Age 31
31

His son Gunner, his wife, his brothers and parents, friends, movies- especially Christmas ones and of course the Dallas Cowboys.

Not a day goes by that we do not think of Jordan. We miss him. His smile, his laugh, his presence.

Introduction

Jordan Patrick Greene was a loving father, husband, brother, and son. He loved his family and everything Texas. He is missed everyday and will always be remembered.

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Ganson "Sandy" Bieder

Age 49
Adored, Loving Father
Ganson  Bieder
Age 49
49

A brilliant man who deeply hurt and struggled with life after the death of his mother when he was 12.
He was a soldier in the Army at the age of 19.
He earned his Bachelor Degree from Florida Presbyterian College.
He owned and was the CEO of Bieder, Inc. in Clearwater, Florida, where he developed and marketed condominiums during the booming real estate market in the 70s.
He took his life after decades of battling binge drinking alcoholism, and I miss him every day.
He would have been 79 next April. I don't know if he would have lived that long if he hadn't killed himself because he didn't take care of his body very well, smoked 4 packs of cigarettes a day and had a high-stress career, BUT I would have like to have found out. I never got to see him past the age of 49. An age I am quickly approaching, and I fear that I am going to lose touch with my memories of him after passing that milestone.

My father was an alcoholic who drank to numb his pain. He had a very difficult childhood that he never recovered from, and self medicating was his downfall. He wanted to end his struggle with addiction, but on his own terms, which was a recipe for disaster.

His suicide was brutal. We had made the decision to "cut him off" after repeated attempts to get him to treatment and his avid refusal to do so. He had been on his last "binge" for approximately 1.5 years (normal binges were 4-5 days with 2 to 5 in between). He called me on a Friday and asked me to pick him up the next day so he could look for a new place to live (he was living in a motel at the time) and that he was going to get help and repair his shattered life. He told me that he loved me and how proud he was of me. About 5 minutes later, he called and said to change the day to Sunday, it would work better for him.

When I arrived at his motel room Sunday morning (28 years ago, exactly, 12/18/1988), I found him dead on his couch from self inflicted cuts to his wrists. There was blood everywhere. I was 16 at the time and it took me many, many years to recover from this (in fact, I probably still haven't and never completely will). There was no note. There was no indication that he was suicidal (reflecting on it many years later, of course he was). I was left feeling as though he set me up to find this brutal scene out of some sort of sadistic revenge for abandoning him, and the guilt plagued me for years. I now know, as a 44 year old woman, that this scenario that played in my young, still developing mind for many years, was most likely not true, and it was his disease that got the better of him. He was extremely depressed and suffering traumatically from this disease, and he simply came to the conclusion that it was the only way out for him. Although part of me wants to believe that it was a cry for help and he didn't actually intend to die from the attempt - that he simply wanted me to find him that way as a desperate plea for allowing him back into my life (the diseased mind not only manipulates others but the inflicted as well) - the logical part of me knows that his brain was critically injured from such abusive drinking for such a prolonged period of time and he wasn't thinking rationally - he hadn't for years - and that he didn't actually set me up to find him; it probably didn't occur to him who would find him. I believe in my heart that if he knew what it actually did to my mind and soul, and the PTSD that has plagued me ever since, he would never have done that. He loved me too much for that, and would never want to cause one single day of pain in my life, let alone decades.

I didn't talk about his suicide for many years. I am embarrassed to say that I was embarrassed that I had a parent that committed suicide. Like it would reflect upon me; like I was a bad daughter or something and people would not be able to look at me or treat me the same after finding out. I didn't want to present myself as having a 'victim reality'. I also didn't speak of his alcoholism, as I was always afraid that people would assume that, I too, must suffer the same affliction as there is a known genetic factor in addictive diseases. Additionally, I had a very chaotic childhood filled with ups and downs, being disappointed more that not, and being forced to "hide" my dad's disease. I now know that the only way to heal and to continue to heal (it will be a lifelong effort), is to talk openly about addiction and suicide and hope to reach at least one person on my journey through life; be present and make them aware that there IS hope, there IS help, there are judgement free zones FULL of people dedicated to healing the mind, body, and spirit of someone suffering so immensely from this horrible disease; no matter the drug(s) of choice, past behaviors or choices and past recovery attempts that may have failed. There is a way out, and there are people that love you that will hold your hand through your journey called recovery - you may have burned some bridges, but certainly not all of them. But if you have, you WILL find someone (possibly in a recovery program) that will grab your hand and never let go - because YOU and YOUR life MATTER! And can be wonderful, and you CAN feel joy and hope again.

If you have a loved one that is suffering from addiction disease, BE PRESENT, BE PERSISTENT, UTILIZE COMMUNITY ASSISTANCE and PRIVATE NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS to help direct them on the winding road to healing themselves as a WHOLE. It won't be easy; it'll be ugly and brutal at times. But compared to the option of losing them and living with the "what if's" for the rest of your life, EVERY step of the way will be worth it.

My dad never got to see me in my prom dress, graduate from high school or nursing school, walk me down the aisle, be present for my six children or my brothers three children, and to feel the joy of grandparenthood. He didn't get to grow old with my mom, and left her alone and missing him desperately for the remainder of her journey through life. Addiction robbed him of all of this and robbed us of him.

In my line of work, I screen very ill patients for suicidal ideation and intention and provide intervention if needed. These are not people with addictive diseases (for mostly all cases I deal with), but I still feel like I am making a difference in people's lives when I am able to identify someone with suicidal ideation and possible intent and connect them with the resources they need to begin to heal their soul. My advice? Become familiar with the signs of suicidal tendencies and familiarize yourself with the resources in your area. You may just save a life.

His children. Boating. Watching my brother play little league baseball. Tropical storms (I'm quirky that way too - must have gotten that from him). Going to Tampa Bay Buccaneer Football games (season ticket holder), especially when they won. His Alfa Ramero. The Beach Boys, The Everly Brothers and Jim Croche. My mom flirting with him. Watching me swim like a fish and teaching me how to "dive properly." Watching me play in the band. Taking me on dad/daughter dates to the movies and Pizza Hut (always following a binge). A well-manicured lawn and trimmed palm trees. Watching "man stuff" on t.v. with my brother.

His smell, his voice, his constant pursuit of perfection and his reluctant acceptance of not reaching it - as long as he could teach me a lesson from it he would be at least complacent about it - it taught me to not necessarily try to be perfect, but to be GOOD to every one and thing around me, and that would be sufficient. Him tickling me. The way he would valiantly kill spiders and roaches for me. His love of music, which I am grateful to have had passed on to me. His love of Big Mac's.

I think something that is really gnawing at me currently, and is the reason he is on my mind so heavy this year, is that my second son (20 years old) looks EXACTLY like him and even has the same personality (especially the stubborn pride) and unfortunately the addictive tendencies. I have talked to him about his predisposition to addiction for years, and I know he "gets it" but that just isn't enough in my eyes...and now he lives 1500 miles away, is about to join the Army to be an Airborne Combat Medic, and I am truly worried about him - how he will deal emotionally with the things he sees and experiences. I feel a true loss of control in this situation, but there is nothing to intervene on yet. I just have a 'feeling'. Ok, I veered off the point, but, where I am actually going with this, is, I may miss my father very, very much; and have for 28 years, but I see him in my sons and my brother every time I look at them or talk to them - and for that, I am truly grateful. It makes the sting of missing him an little more bearable.

Introduction

28 years ago, 12/18/1988, my father lost his battle with alcoholism when he took his own life at the age of 49, leaving behind a loving wife of 18 years, a 16 year old daughter, and a 12 year old son.

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Aaron Brawley
Age 23
23
Aaron was tall, handsome, beautiful inside and out. He had such a wonderful sense of humor, an infectious smile that was a bit crooked and somewhat mischievous. He was my first born, and I never knew I could feel such love. Aaron loved books from the time he could first hold one, until his death. His room was always littered with books and magazines. His voice was deep with a bit of hoarseness that made him even more attractive and interesting. Aaron loved the outdoors, loved his friends and family...particularly his cousins. I can still picture him walking into the room with that silly grin on his face, flopping his feet up on the sofa and me scolding him about how bad his feet smelled!! Gosh, I wish I could smell his feet again! I wish I could smell HIM....hold him in my arms....rub his head like I use to do. I would "scob his nob" and it drove him nuts. But it was one of those mother things. I miss my beautiful boy, miss my son, miss my friend Aaron.
It all started with marijuana, then on to harder, more addictive drugs. Aaron once told me I didn't understand "the demon." He was right....so sad...sigh...
Good jokes, his friends, his cousins, an omelette cooked for his birthday, crab cakes in NYC, "The Simpsons."
I miss having him here to kiss, rub his head, his smell, his laugh, his humor....his entire essence.
Introduction
Aaron was tall, handsome, beautiful inside and out. He had such a wonderful sense of humor, an infectious smile that was a bit crooked and somewhat mischievous. He was my first born, and I never knew I could feel such love.
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Michael Pawlowski
Age 30
30

We were blessed with Michael's birth on August 4, 1982, being the second child of our three children. We had three marvelously healthy, beautiful sons. They are the joy of our life together. Though brothers, they were their own persons with their own path and their own star to follow. They were close in age and even closer in heart.

At 29, Michael was a bright, witty, very charming, athletic and handsome young man. He had bright blue sparkling eyes, a gleaming smile and brightened a room when he walked in. We all loved him so. We received a special package from above when Michael was born and his sparkly eyes hinted that he was only going to be here for a short while. He needed to be handled carefully and we did everything to keep that smile with us. Yet, he was too sensitive and passionate for this world. We were delighted to share him for these short 29 years. We know that we need to go on day by day but we are all still heartbroken. We loved Michael as he was, he loved us as we are and heaven will welcome him with love.

As a baby, Michael was chubby and smiley. Carpooling to pre-school, he could identify red hawks in the sky and talk nonstop sharks, castles or dinosaurs, which he'd share with anyone who would listen. He-Man action figures were his favorite, often running around the house in red rubber boots and He-man underwear waving a plastic sword telling us all have the power which, of course he did have.

He loved soft, warm fuzzy clothes and if he could, he would have had cashmere gym shorts. When little, we would cringe if ladies in the grocery line had a fur coat or wore silk, we knew we would be fishing him out of their skirt, something that would follow him into adulthood.

Michael enjoyed his school, which allowed him to keep the teacher's dogs under his desk, perfected his hockey and where he struggled with French. Oh, how many calls we had from his French teacher. Yet, later he spent a semester independent studying and working in Paris where he learned to love French food, the French countryside, and Paris. Little did he know that in the future, he would be interfacing with the Paris office in his NYC investment banking position. Michael would say that he survived the economic crisis only because of his fluency in French.

Michael enrolled in college, graduated with two degrees, and continued into grad school but it was at these schools where he made special friends that miss him still. We thank you for being there to make memories of one another so you can re-live the exciting and sometimes questionable adventures with Mike. He always had your back and thank you all for always looking out for him.

As an adult, Michael was courteous and helpful. Somehow in the busy subway ride to work, he always had time to stop and help carry a stroller down the steps or show a tourist the right way to read the map. No matter how busy he would be, he made time to listen to you, really listen. He was quick with a joke and looked for the comedic aspects in life.

Forever a NY Rangers fan, he watched sport TV and argued trivia. Although a NY Giants fan, he'd rather cheer at the Jets games for the sheer entertainment factor. He spent his money freely picking up the tab for friends, going out to dinner and purchasing jewelry for girlfriends. Although he hated musicals, the Phantom of the Opera will remain a favorite. He could spend time in antique shops and museums looking for knight figures, unique glassware, prints, paintings and crystal trinkets. He understood good design and marveled at the Calatrava-designed Milwaukee Art Museum and its setting along Lake Michigan. He liked clothes but could never find a pair of shoes that really fit his awkward-sized feet, so most of his purchases would sit in his closet as he was usually dressed in a tee shirt and flip flops outside with the dogs or on his way to the gym.

Michael loved his friends unequivocally and they loved him. Even as an adult, he brought friends home and they soon made their way into our hearts as well and became, and always will remain, members of our family. Our home always seemed to be filled with a gang of friends and full of the hope, laughter, energy, spirit and dreams of young people. He gave his friends and family excitement and trepidations, but always with a twinkle and a smile. We thank him for that. He made all of our lives fun.

Michael Francis Pawlowski was a young man, colleague, friend and brother and he will always be our middle son. Goodbye with Much Love and God bless you, Michael Francis."

We knew you were partying with friends in high school and even though we brought all this up with your counselor and doctor, we were reassured that it was just experimenting, nothing more than others but we were not so sure. We had a history of alcohol abuse and we talked openly about a genetic marker, becoming educated about addiction and seeking medical care.

You went to support groups off and on but we knew you were starting to really struggle with your illness after a few years into your job. Finally, in 2007 you agreed to get treatment for the first time. Your insurance covered part, we covered what you couldn't and we all tried to support your recovery the best that we could, but all the worry, support and love did not help in the end. You needed more time, we needed more time.

We witnessed firsthand how emergency personal and medical professionals treated us when we came in after a relapse; the stares, the look of disgust, the dismissal, the judgment. Recovery was the hardest part and that is where we stumbled. You relapsed at times and the varied treatments made you unstable and everything became too much. Sponsors came and went, sober friends relapsed, doctors transferred, support staff quit, insurance coverage was discontinued and premiums raised, cash upfront was needed everywhere. So it became too lonely, too complicated to find a new way of living.

Michael was quick to smile on a warm sunny day, cold wintery day in the snow or walking through puddles on a city street. But sandy beaches and ocean water was were he wanted to be so he is now watching us all from the lighthouse off the Atlantic shore.

We miss everything about you, Michael, especially the love and laughter.

Introduction

Michael was quick to smile on a warm sunny day, cold wintery day in the snow or walking through puddles on a city street. But sandy beaches and ocean water was were he wanted to be so he is now watching us all from the lighthouse off the Atlantic shore.

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Sarah Heddy
Age 26
26
She was a beautiful, talented, loving young woman who loved her family and friends. She was kind and thoughtful and would help anyone in need.
She started in middle school going to "raves" with friends while I was at work — taking ecstasy and drinking alcohol. In her early twenties, after an auto accident, she became addicted to OxyContin and many other drugs. She could not control her addiction and died by suicide because of it.
Everything!
She was my best friend besides being my daughter. I wanted to take her to all the places I wanted to see and now I take her ashes when I travel.
Introduction
She was a beautiful, talented, loving young woman who loved her family and friends. She was kind and thoughtful and would help anyone in need.
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Justin Salomone
Age 29
29
Justin was very bright and creative. When he picked up the guitar, he made it sing. As a young boy, he was an avid reader and loved to have books read to him. He excelled at sales and people found him very likeable. Justin also loved to cook and watched many of the cooking shows on TV. He had a very strong network of clean and sober friends from the AA group that he belonged to.
Justin had anxiety and he self-medicated with drugs from when he was 16 years old. At 23, he started with the painkillers and at 25 he was addicted to heroin. We tried several different approaches to recovery and Justin would get 4-6 months and then go out and use again. Finally, he was clean for 7 months and went out and overdosed because, as so many others, his body was no longer used to the high doses he was accustomed to taking.
Justin loved to play the guitar and he loved girls. He loved the challenge of succeeding at an endeavor.
Whenever Justin came home he would have a big "Hi Mom" for me. I can still hear it. We miss his smile and his excellent guitar playing. We miss his spirit.
Introduction
Justin was very bright and creative. When he picked up the guitar, he made it sing. As a young boy, he was an avid reader and loved to have books read to him. He excelled at sales and people found him very likeable. Justin also loved to cook and watched many of the cooking shows on TV. He had a very strong network of clean and sober friends from the AA group that he belonged to.
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Erik Christiansen
Age 28
28
Erik was a fine young man whose dream was to become a NYPD Police Officer and Detective. Erik's dream became a reality, we were so proud of him. Erik had many friends and a beautiful lovely girlfriend. He was funny, caring, polite and respectful with a bit of a daredevil in him.
Erik hurt his back in early 2011 and was prescribed pain killers, that he became addicted to and within a year and half overdosed and died. Addiction is such a dark secret to us. Although we have witnessed the devastation it has wrought, we as a society are never prepared when it strikes our families. Since it was such a short time period of his and our lives, it is very hard to describe his struggle. I would say what hurt him the most was he would say, "I just want to be the man I was."
People. Erik loved helping his friends, he would listen and dispense advice, be there for his friends, he smiled a lot around people, had a hearty laugh, didn't mind being the brunt of a joke or telling a joke.
I miss him. The essence of Erik, who he was, who he would become. That is the sad part. Erik will always be 28. To share his future as a son, brother, husband, and father. There will always be an empty plate at the table. I miss him calling me and saying, "Ma, I'm hungry, can you make Chicken Parm?" What I would do to hear those words again. Calling his Dad. Calling for advice on his job, car, many different things. We miss him every moment of the day.
Introduction
Erik was a fine young man whose dream was to become a NYPD Police Officer and Detective. Erik's dream became a reality, we were so proud of him. Erik had many friends and a beautiful lovely girlfriend. He was funny, caring, polite and respectful with a bit of a daredevil in him.
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Brian Mendell
Age 25
25

Like many of you reading this, you have children that light up your life. Brian was that for me. He began talking at an early age, and for the next twenty-five years he never stopped. Brian loved the outdoors. Whether with his friends or his brother Greg, he would play in the woods for hours, fishing and searching for frogs.

As Brian entered elementary school, his struggles began to emerge. I watched him struggle with so many things we all take for granted: holding a crayon, and simply keeping his balance. When he began middle school, he had a hard time paying attention and he began to struggle academically and socially; he felt as if he didn't fit in. He was originally diagnosed with ADD, however over time this diagnosis included anxiety, depression, and traits of Asperger's.

Brian's curiosity was endless. We would end our evenings talking endlessly. He would want to know about everything: my favorite memories growing up, how I liked my career, how the people in the Dominican seemed so happy with so little material things.

It is impossible to describe Brian without mentioning his smile. He had an ear to ear to smile that was his trademark.

However, the character trait of Brian of which I am most proud was his compassion for others. I have spoken publicly about him crawling under a fence at Yankee stadium when he was eight to give a homeless man a quarter. His favorite memory of high school was taking a trip to the Dominican Republic on spring break to play with children who had so little. After Brian's death, his sober coach wrote, "After Brian and I had lunch together he gave money to homeless people on the street." Another friend wrote, "his big bright smile, easy approachable demeanor and kind eyes are things that come to mind when I think about Brian." It's a lovely memory.

Brian and several of his friends tried marijuana for the first time at age thirteen. While his friends had varying degrees of interest, for Brian it was different. Maybe the marijuana eased his anxiety. Or perhaps it was genetic. Whatever the reason or combination of reasons, Brian quickly became addicted, and is often the case, over time he became addicted to more dangerous drugs.

Brian was sent to a wilderness program when he was seventeen. Throughout these years, when Brian was not relapsing, he was often reflective. He responded to what he read of Taoist philosophy in a note to me, Emotion which is suffering ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it. It's similar to what I'm working on.

Brian was also deeply pained by what he was putting his family through. In one letter to my mother he wrote, Dear Grandma Kitty, I don't know what to say about this anymore. I feel horrible that I keep putting everyone through this. Thanks for sticking with me and I'm sorry. Love and miss you, Brian. Brian's relapses were many. After his last relapse Brian told me, Dad, even when I think I have this under control, I have now learned that this disease is doing push-ups inside and getting stronger and stronger.

After his last treatment program, Brian succeeded and was able to stay clean for thirteen months. However five weeks after his one year anniversary he tragically took his life. In his loving and compassionate note to our family, he condemned the treatment system for its lack of integrity. And although he did not state it explicitly, I believe he also felt enormous shame and guilt that tore him apart inside. It seems like yesterday we were sitting on the bench in our back yard when he told me, Dad, three hundred years ago they burned women on stakes in Salem, Massachusetts because they thought they were witches. Someday society will recognize that I have a disease, and I am trying my hardest.

More than anything Brian loved family time and seeing everyone happy. He also had an amazing sense of humor, and loved making us all laugh.

What I miss most is the emotional connection we shared. We were soul mates. As Brian once wrote in a letter from a wilderness program, "Dad, underneath we are twins; I see it out here a lot - Mom and Dad I don't think I've ever missed you more or realized how much you do for me and I want you to know I know all your decisions are out of love. Love, Brian." I miss Brian every minute of every day.

Introduction

What I miss most is the emotional connection we shared. We were soul mates.

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Philip Hanson
Age 23
23
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.
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."
Everything. Silly jokes, dancing and singing in inappropriate places, horribly ugly shirts that he favored as a wardrobe.
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.
Introduction
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.
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Christopher Sanderson
Age 22
22
Christopher was a beautiful soul, such a sweet a precious gift to all of our lives. He was a very sought after friend growing up. Chris was very popular without trying. He had a spirit where people just wanted to be with Chris. Our Christopher was kind and passionate about anything he chose to be involved in. He loves Sports,he played competitive tennis, football, basketball and was a great golfers at a young age. He also loved politics, acting, singing, performing, he went to film school and wanted to study politics and law. He always had a lot of friends. He was a very loved and adored son. He was beautiful physically, inside and out. His family so adored him and was always very over protective of him, since I, his mother, lost a husband in a car accident at age 24, I always felt this need to protect him from the hard stuff in this world.I wouldn't allow any unnecessary risks with him. I loved him so much. At his service we had about 2,000 people come through and so many kids from all walks of life told me, he was his best friend. He always had a calming peace about him when in the presences of others and encouraged others to live their dreams and live their lives. I miss him and love him so much!
Christopher started smoking pot at age 16. I could tell right away that his attraction to pot was not normal. So many people say, oh their just kids, they are just experimenting, but I knew he loved it way too much. I told him I would not allow him to go down this path because I had a couple of brothers that took the drug path at a young age and although they quite at 19 and 22, they have always had those addictive personalities. I could see that Chris totally changed his friends and his interests with smoking pot. He said he would never do any other drugs and I should know that. I for sure knew that he could try other drugs because of his personality. He was passionate about anything he did, wheather it was acting, sports, the stock market at age 10 that he discovered, he would ask for the Wall Street Journal every day at 10, seriously, he was 10! At that time, now looking back I can recognize his addictive personality. His dad would take him to the dog track, he loved, loved, loved that. He also had a gambling addiction, always buying lotto scratch offs with his money, which was also an addiction. I think this poor kid was addicted to anything he ever did. I looked at is as being passionate, but now I see it as his addictive personality. I wanted to put him in boarding school, where all you do is study and get in the best schools, when he started smoking pot. His dad wanted to give him another chance. His dad NEVER even tried pot, I tried it when I was young, but did not like it, it made me paranoid. I didn't even have alcohol in our house while my kids were growing up. He grew up a Christian, but not perfect, home. Alcohol was never his problem. He got a really nice girl friend who went to Christian school and kind of laid of the pot stuff for a few years until they broke up. He became to depressed/anxiety and so sad over this break up! He had his whole life planned with this girl. I never saw a kid so sad in my life. He started self medicating. He started snorting coke.
His family/friends, animals, he was a practical joker and liked pulling jokes on people. He was kind of the class clown in school, but quiet at home.
I miss his physical self, his smile, his laugh, his funny jokes, his curly hair, his charm, his sparkling blue eyes. I miss his spirit and I miss everything about him. I want him back here with me now! It's been so hard here without my beautiful boy.
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Reagan Thompson
Age 20
20

Reagan was born in Anchorage, Alaska and always considered himself Alaskan. He was the middle of 3 brothers - Sam (25) and Quinn (19). He was very quiet, but had a wicked sense of humor and when he did say something it would usually be hilarious. He was tender-hearted, loving and kind. He loved babies and little kids and dogs, and they loved him too! In 4th grade he became known as Ray, informing us that we'd given him a girl's name (he had a female classmate with the name Reagan) and he did NOT want to have a girl's name! He loved to skateboard and was pretty good at it. He was very talented at playing the guitar and liked teaching others how to play. Ray was always drawn to other kids who were sad or hurting and he just accepted them for who they were, as they were. When Ray went to friends' houses, we almost always got reports from the parents about how sweet, and polite he was and a pleasure to have over. Ray was our ""blondie-blond"" boy, with amazing eyes that changed color according to his mood, the clothes he wore or even the weather. His hands had ""simian"" creases on them and he was born with dimples in his shoulders. He was stocky and thick - not fat, but solid. He gave the best hugs and kisses! He was very sensitive and seemed to feel things very intensely, and didn't really know how to express how he felt. "

Ray began having trouble with depression around puberty. We tried to get him to talk with a counselor, but he was very resistant to talking. The summer after his 7th grade year he spent mostly alone, lying in bed, depressed. By 9th grade he had tried a variety of drugs, but was mostly smoking marijuana. He ran away from home. We found him the next night at a known drug house. We knew he was in crisis and we acted quickly to get him into a day treatment program, but he didn't cooperate. We ended up forcing him into treatment 5 hours away. I felt horror and dispair leaving my child there, entrusting him to strangers. After a bumpy 3 weeks, he turned a corner and began working on getting sober. He was able to remain sober for about 18 months. But then he started smoking pot, drinking and using many other drugs. As he went further into his relapse, he drove his girlfriend away, which caused his depression to return at a more intense level. Over the next year and a half he was able to get his GED and work at a construction job and even attempted a semester in college, but his disease was in full effect and he began stealing to support his drug needs. We began the cycle of arrest, jail, bail and rehab. In 2011, Ray became addicted to heroin and we had to tell him that we would do anything to help him get and be healthy, but we would no longer support him being unhealthy. In January 2012, he came to us asking for help. We are Christians, and we offered him all we had: the love of God and hope in a relationship with Jesus. He asked the Lord into his life and willingly went to rehab, where he was diagnosed with refractive depression. The entire 40 days were spent getting him stabilized medically. He went to a 90 day program in California and then to a sober living house in Dallas. He felt so much guilt and shame and worthlessness and told his dad he was a "3 time loser and an addict." His next relapse on heroin led to his death.
The last times I saw him smile were when he was with family. He'd been gone so much of 2012 and he missed us so much, that the rare times he was able to be with us he smiled the whole time. Of course, when he was healthy, he smiled every time he was with his girlfriend, Ali, and when he got to be around her niece, Raegan. Some of the most precious pictures we have of Ray are of him with Raegan because his sweet, tender side was right there on the surface.
There is only one thing I do not miss about Ray: his addiction. That destroyed my beautiful son who gave the best hugs! I miss hearing him call me "Ma" and his chuckle. I miss looking at his hands, his eyes, his smile. I miss how he was so particular about the clothes he wore, and how even wearing jeans and a t-shirt they had to be clean and unwrinkled. I'll never know his children, or what he would have done with his life if he hadn't succumbed to the pain, guilt and shame he felt because of his addiction. I take comfort in knowing he is no longer suffering, but I miss him every second of every day.
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Lance Juracka
Age 36
36
Lance would not have talked about any of the things that I am about to say. He was very humble and never bragged or even spoke about his accomplishments of which there were many before his life became consumed by addiction. He had a hard time in high school because we moved during this time and he did not feel like he fit in. He did not graduate and later he got his GED and went to a small Community College. He then decided he would apply to NYU Film School even though he was told by his Advisors that it would probably be very hard to get in. He wrote a letter and that along with his grades got him accepted. This was the happiest time of his life. He loved creating and working with others that had the same vision. Lance was a true friend and never judgmental of others. He always saw the best in all people. Lance graduated from NYU Tisch Film School and made a short film while in school which was 9 years before his addiction. The film called, "Time's Up" is about 2 generations of a family struggling with addiction. In some way, his soul must have known that this would touch his life. He was a high achiever that was successful in all that he touched until addiction to alcohol took over his life and changed everything.
Lance went downhill very quickly. About 3 years before he died, he started having personal problems and at the same time he had a job writing for "Showbiz Magazine" in Las Vegas. He would review the shows and during this time, he was given free drinks. He never liked the taste of alcohol when he was younger but I can only guess that he found a way to dull the pain of what was going on in his life. He quickly because addicted and whenever he would try to withdraw, he would have seizures. His life became a vicious circle of him losing everything that was important to him because of drinking and hating himself because of it but continuing to drink to numb the pain. A year before he died, he went into rehab and those that loved him were so grateful that this might mean a recovery. Unfortunately, the sobriety was short lived and he went downhill even faster than before. His liver was giving out and his health was declining. He died in a single vehicle accident after drinking along with taking prescription medication.
Lance had the most amazing sense of humor. He could find humor in the littlest of things and he loved holidays and went out his way to make them very special.
I miss his fun loving personality and his love of family. I miss his funny stories and his creativity in coming up with inventions, writing songs and script ideas for shows. I was always in awe of his creative mind and his love of life.
Introduction
Lance had the most amazing sense of humor. He could find humor in the littlest of things and he loved holidays and went out his way to make them very special.
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Daniel Joseph Simard III

Age 30
Son, Brother, Grandson, Nephew, Friend
Daniel Simard III
Age 30
30

Dan was a bright young man who loved to make those around him smile.

Dan struggled with addiction for many years. He successfully completed 90 days of sobriety prior to relapsing, which led to his untimely passing.

Dan loved to be around friends and family. He also enjoyed a variety of activities and hobbies such as; basketball, snowboarding, bmx bike riding, skateboarding, fishing, and being outdoors.

Everything. The world is a darker place without his smile and sense of humor.

Introduction

Danny's infectious smile, quick wit, and humor, will be dearly missed by all who knew him. Dan was the forever jokester, so quick to make those around him smile, even though he carried so much pain within. We hope that his memory can help lead others who are also stuggling down a path to a brighter future.

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Salvatore Marchese
Age 26
26
Sal was born on April 11, 1984, two months premature. As my sister-in-law stated after his passing he came into this world early and left early.” Sal was an absolute beautiful child with a heart of gold. Sal was truly an old soul.” He was kind and sweet and cared so much about everyone. If you met Sal once, you were his friend forever. These next few words are borrowed from Sal's brother Vincent. “There were so many layers to Sal. At his very core, he was fiercely loyal, loving, sensitive, and moral. To coax a real smile from Sal was the greatest victory, but how beautiful it was!! Sal touched so many people during his life. Anybody who had met Sal knew that you couldn't do anything but love him"". "
Sal struggled with addiction through his high school years - he was embarrassed of his disease. From the time he was 18 years old he tried to get treatment and was in and out of rehab facilities never getting the proper treatment because he was never afforded any more than 11 days at a time - We always struggled with insurance trying to get approvals, never enough funding and/or beds to take him. He wanted help desperately but sadly never received the help he needed and deserved. In June of 2010 he was, for the first time approved under state funding for treatment. We were all so hopeful and happy because this was he first time he was able to get approved and we all believed this was a gift and Sal was on the road to recovery. 11 days later, we received a call that his funding had ran out and he was being released - his release papers were clearly marked "high risk for relapse" - but they still released him. We called every treatment center in the area to get him into another place, no one would take him - we lost Sal on September 23, 2010 from an accidental overdose. Sal was not alone when he died, but the person using with him left him alone to die -without calling for help - my son was left to die.
As mentioned earlier, to get a smile out of Sal was not easy - but when he did smile it was beautiful and the one thing that made him smile was his son - Salvatore. Seeing him look at his son with pride in his eyes was amazing. His son was 18 months old when Sal passed.
I miss everything about Sal. He had a quiet, beautiful presence, he was thoughtful and kind. Sal never went to bed without coming into my room to say good night and tell me that he loved me. I miss him popping his head in my bedroom to say I love you - good night. I just miss him being him and giving me his quirky smile - it was truly priceless. Sal and his sister Blake would sit on the back deck just about every night and talk - I miss looking out the back door and seeing them sitting together talking. Sal is forever missed and loved.
Introduction
I miss everything about Sal. He had a quiet, beautiful presence, he was thoughtful and kind. Sal never went to bed without coming into my room to say good night and tell me that he loved me. I miss him popping his head in my bedroom to say I love you - good night. I just miss him being him and giving me his quirky smile - it was truly priceless. Sal and his sister Blake would sit on the back deck just about every night and talk - I miss looking out the back door and seeing them sitting together talking. Sal is forever missed and loved.
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Daniel Eby
Age 35
35
Dan was my only child. He was born on a snowy night that I will always remember.His Dad left us when he was 5 and it was just him and me until he was 11 when I remarried. He always wanted a new Dad since his Dad didn't contact him. We had many good times but also some bad. For the last 8 years he has helped me grow our business C&E Tag and Title Service. He wasn't always dependable because of his addiction, but when he was there he was very good at what he did. He was going to take over my business one day. Two years ago he moved back home where my husband and I live and also his 10 year old daughter lives. His daughter has lived with us for the last 7 years because her Dad and Mom were both addicts.
Dan was an addict for 15 years. He was clean for a few years when he was in prison. He didn't always have money for his habit so he stole from me and my husband. Almost 4 years ago he went on methadone to stop the heroin. He did good for the first 2 years, but he started drinking heavy and that was a bad thing. Last year he got a DUI and wanted to get off the methadone. Earlier this year he was going to the clinic smelling of alcohol and about 6 months ago he was released from the clinic and then started having problems. He started stealing from me and his daughter to support his habit. It was getting bad. Then in June he said he wanted to stop and he tried to go to Bowling Green but could not get in then because there were no beds for men. He struggled for months and about 2 weeks before he died he started working harder and was taking suboxin to try to stop. He was doing pretty good and the week before he died he was talking about his future. It was the first time he talked about his future in a long time. It felt good to see that he really wanted to change and I was glad I was going to have my son back. When he got paid on October 4th he went and bought some heroin and asked a friend to get him suboxin because he didn't want to blow all his money on heroin. He got his usual amount of heroin but it was strong and while I was at work he locked his self in the bathroom and never came out. His daughter called me at work and said he was in the bathroom and not answering her. I knew what was happening and told her to get Pop Pop and try to beat on the door to get a response but he did not respond. I got home 15 minutes later and the ambulance was right behind me. I walked in the door to find my husband and neighbor trying to get in the bathroom but he was leaning on the door. The ambulance attendant finally got in the bathroom and they did everything they could but it was too late.
I think Dan's daughter Danielle made him smile the most. He was a very proud Dad and loved being with his beautiful daughter. We have lots of pictures of our summer vacations and he was always smiling at Danielle and when she looked at her Dad she smiled all the time well except when she got into trouble. I know I made him smile too. At work when he showed me up he would laugh and smile all the time. He loved when I was wrong about things. When he was growing up we moved back home with my Mom and I would save money so we could got on trips like to Disney World. For the most part we were a pair and kept each other happy.
I miss him taking care of his daughter. He was a good Dad sometimes I called him a drill Sargent because he would time her when she brushed her teeth and if she didn't do her two minutes he would complain to her. I miss him working with me and now I don't want to replace him. I just look at his empty desk. I miss his beautiful smile. Even when he was bad he just had a way of making it seem like it was not that bad. When I had problems I would talk to him and he would try to make me feel better. I just miss him so much. I just want him to walk in the door and hug me. I never thought I could miss someone as much as I do him. I just feel like I lost part of me and I can not get it back. My grand daughter said I cry to much and I tell her I can't help it because I want my baby back and I know he is not coming back.
Introduction
Dan was my only child. He was born on a snowy night that I will always remember.His Dad left us when he was 5 and it was just him and me until he was 11 when I remarried. He always wanted a new Dad since his Dad didn't contact him. We had many good times but also some bad. For the last 8 years he has helped me grow our business C&E Tag and Title Service. He wasn't always dependable because of his addiction, but when he was there he was very good at what he did. He was going to take over my business one day. Two years ago he moved back home where my husband and I live and also his 10 year old daughter lives. His daughter has lived with us for the last 7 years because her Dad and Mom were both addicts.
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Daniel Silverman
Age 19
19

Danny was one of those kids that always tried to make you laugh. Loved sports, football and baseball were his favorite, played from 5 years old on up through h.s.

I think Danny lacked self confidence and always had the need to "fit in." This ended up making him make bad choices.

Funny movies

His smile, laugh, and big hugs. Watching movies with him and just being there to talk to. He was my buddy.

Introduction

Danny was one of those kids that always tried to make you laugh. Loved sports, football and baseball were his favorite, played from 5 years old on up through h.s.

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