I had just approved the funeral cards with Zach’s name printed as a pallbearer earlier that day for my 13 year old son’s funeral. He had just passed away due to health complications when I got the phone call that Zach was gone. I just screamed and screamed as loud as I could. I was so mad at him. I was going through the most devastating time of my life and I needed him. It was twenty two days after Zach’s death that I got another phone call. This time it was about my oldest brother, Greg. He too was gone. Fentanyl had stolen both of my brothers from my four sisters and me, leaving us devastated beyond comprehension.
It was the day before Zach’s 32nd birthday when he was found in a McDonald’s bathroom February 23, 2021, dead of an apparent heroin/fentanyl overdose. Zach and I were 19 months apart but grew up like twins. I can remember the exact moment that things got bad for Zach and addiction would take over his life. He was fifteen years old. I was seventeen. I had an infant son and was getting up in the middle of the night to make his bottle when I walked past Zach’s room and could see the silhouette of him sitting in the dark on his bedroom floor, crying, listening to music. He had just gotten home from the hospital where he and his then girlfriend, agreed with the advice of the physicians to remove their 45 day old son who was prematurely born, off life support. Life for Zach after that moment was pure chaos. He would use any drug he could get his hands on and would have many overdose scares. It would take many rehabs, prison sentences, the health of our mom and a baby on the way for him to get clean. He, clean and sober, would stand by our mother’s side for nearly a year, while she battled stage four lung cancer. It was all she had ever wanted for him was to find happiness and stay clean and he was doing that. She was so excited to learn he was going to be a father again. Our mom would lose her battle to lung cancer when tumors spread to her brain. Months after Zach’s son was born is when the loss of our mom took a devastating toll on him and he relapsed. This time, it was worse than before.
Greg was 48 when he passed away March 17, 2021. He was found by my sister when my elderly dad called for her to come over and check on him. He had thought Greg might be dead because he had been in the same position since he awakened hours earlier. What my sister found traumatized her. Greg was stiff, in a fetal position and blue. Greg’s addiction to meth began before I was even born. He spent a majority of his adult life in prison because of it. It also caused the relationship with his two children to become estranged and ultimately take his life when he unknowlying snorted fentanyl laced meth. Greg was born to teenage parents; his dad would spend most of his life in prison and our mom would abuse and neglect him. He would grow up calling his step dad, my father, dad. My dad would proudly call him his son and was so happy to let Greg move in with him this last year to help care for him, and he was pleased to do it. Greg was devastated by Zach’s passing so much that he couldn’t even attend his funeral. He stayed home and got high instead.
Greg and Zach were sons deeply loved by their father and brothers cherished by their sisters. Their nieces and nephews adored them. They weren’t a statistic. They were my brothers. Zach was the kind of brother that would drive an hour and a half to force me out of my house to go fishing, because it was my mom’s birthday and he knew this day was hard for me. They were the type of brothers that would randomly text to ask how I was doing. Greg was the type of brother that would fall asleep in his truck, parked in my sister’s driveway, waiting for her to wake up just to spend time with her. These caring brothers would call just to tell you they love you. I lost brothers who I shared so many things with. Part of me died with them. The pain of never seeing them laugh, smile or hearing their voice again is excruciating. The realization that I’ll never feel them hug me again is absolutely devastating. They fought hard against everything they could, but in the end they lost the battle due to fentanyl poisoning.
Our mom had six children and four of us are left. Every single one of us struggles with addiction. Some of us have gotten sober, and sadly some of us haven’t.