Literacy Consultant, Professional Development Provider, and Writer.

I’m Never Gonna Let You Down…

I’m never gonna let you down

If your heart’s been broke

And you feel like you’re all alone

If you need something to believe in

If you’re looking for a light to guide you home

Just look inside

You’re light a shining brighter than you know

You should know

Dear Friends,

It’s been 11 months, 333 days — a lifetime and a minute since Bryan died from an accidental overdose.

At 11 months it can still feel like 11 seconds, 11 minutes, 11 days, 11 weeks. It is a breath of time and it is forever. But, if you have or are finding your way through the landmines of this life, I hope some of what I share helps you, if at least to let you know you are not alone.

Grieving reflects the depth and breadth of love. I miss every single thing about Bryan. His laugh, his patience, his smile that always took my breath away. His kindness, his love. There are so many attributes that will not be known because Bryan no longer physically walks this earth. But, there was also the darkness that invaded Bryan when his disease of addiction took hold and it is important to remember and name the shadows. It is the only way to move toward the light.

And when you’re feeling lost

I will always find you love

I’m never gonna walk away

I’m always gonna have your back

And if nothing else you can always count on that

When you need me

I promise I will never let you down

When Bryan died 11 months ago, it was difficult for me to state what he died from. When my husband and I found him it was our worst nightmare come true. “It” happened. Our son died from an accidental overdose, waiting for a bed to begin his journey toward sobriety. Bryan loved life, he loved his family, and he loved his friends. His passion, joy, and spark is eternally missed. The cavernous empty space where Bryan once stood is a constant reminder of our loss. Each day his dad, his brothers, his sister-in-law, his nephews and I move forward through this life. We don’t move on. We will never ‘move on’ from the loss of Bryan. We are still here and we must now live for Bryan. We take him in our hearts and minds wherever we go. We must live as Bryan once lived — with love, passion, curiosity, and joy. That is why we are still here.

And, truth be told, I will always feel like I could have done more to save Bryan. If you are living and/or loving someone who has the disease of addiction, you may feel this way too. But, what I am learning and trying to believe with my heart is loving Bryan, with his addiction and despite his addiction, was the absolute best thing I could have done. I love Bryan deeply. I saw past his pain and the ugly ways addiction changed him. My love never has and never will fail and that will always be enough. I know that our love for Bryan is the reason he kept fighting. He carried pictures of his nephews with him wherever he went. His smile in every picture with his brothers and his dad and I is filled with joy. His head always tilted toward the person next to him. His arms around shoulders and his hands holding his nephews. Why did he fight so hard in an almost impossible situation? Because of his love for himself, his life, and his family. Bryan’s life is worth fighting for and we will fight for his life as we live ours. And it is our love for Bryan in this moment, and in every moment forward, that we take comfort knowing Bryan now rests peacefully.

Moth Into Flame (Metallica, 2016)

As you may know, addiction is recognized as a disease by DSM IV (https://www.danya.com/dlc/bup/pdf/Dependence_DSM.PDF). It is a disease but it is also a monster that creeps in and slowly wraps its tentacles in a stranglehold around the light that is our sons, daughters, spouses, family members, and friends, squeezing until it extinguishes their light and darkens our lives.

What’s baffling to me is that while it’s formally recognized as a disease, something that is killing our loved ones and outright destroying lives, it’s not openly talked about. It is still shaming and shameful. It is a disease that is often judged and gossiped about. I have actually read that it is considered an ‘unheroic death.’ When did we start ‘measuring’ death and loss? I understand where the author is coming from, but it surrounds addiction in a disgraceful cloud, filled with judgement. It keeps ‘the secret’ alive. It also silences the call for help, not only for the addicted person, but for his or her loved ones. Addiction is a sickness, a disease. It eats the brain, devours the soul, and destroys the loves of our lives. It did it to me. It did it to my family. It killed my son.

If you don’t name it, you shame it.

What I have noticed when someone dies from an accidental overdose is that “it” is rarely ever named. It is in the ‘unspoken spaces’. For example, what is often written on memorial pages and Facebook posts when someone passes from their addiction is:

“Wow, I’m sorry to hear that… rest in peace, brother…”

“When will this stop?????”

“Another friend? How is this possible?”

Do you see how the addiction is not named? It’s in the silences surrounding the comments. Addiction is a family disease. It is a friend’s disease, it is a community and societal disease. Although you might feel as if addiction and its brutal path is not your story to tell, I assure you that you are as much a part of the story as the one battling the disease of addiction. You were and are in it together (Suhan, C. 2016 retrieved 8/7/2017: https://www.babble.com/body-mind/to-the-grieving-family-of-an-addict-whose-addiction-won)

I will hold you close

You won’t be alone anymore

If you need someone to believe in

If you’re reaching for a hand to guide you home

Just take my hand and I won’t let you go

I hope you know

Finally, what I have discovered about surviving the loss of Bryan is that grief isn’t something that can be rid of so I can get back to life, “It IS life” (Devine, M. 2014).

It’s not a problem, it’s a reality.

It is life that is lived within love and pain.

In honor of Bryan and all those fighting for a sober life, let’s begin to help our loved ones find the support they need. Recognize addiction as a disease and if someone reaches out their hand for help, grab their hand and don’t let go.

I’m never gonna let you down

I’m always gonna build you up

And when you’re feeling lost

I will always find you love

I’m never gonna walk away

I’m always gonna have your back

And if nothing else who can always count on that

When you need me

I promise I will never let you down

One year later …

In memory of Bryan, and as his first anniversary in heaven approaches on September 8th, 2017, I would like to begin a book drive for the rehab centers. I had noticed the lack of available books for recreational reading when I visited Bryan in Phoenix House. Bryan was a teacher and during his stay he tutored other clients in reading and writing. I brought him books, magazines, and the daily paper to help with his teaching. But, there weren’t any texts available for casual reading. Many families visit their sons, daughters, moms, dads, and friends and I thought how nice it would be to sit on the front lawn and read picture books with one’s children. Or when there is down time to sit with a book and get lost in the joy of story. So, if you have gently used books that you would like to donate, please message me and I will come and pick them up. Giving the gift of literacy is an immeasurable gift of love. Thank you.

With love always,

Linda

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Dr. Linda Bausch, E D. D.
(516) 341-1950
linda@literacy-leadership.com

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