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    Friday, July 24, 2009


    Almost three years ago, we lost our 20-year-old nephew Daniel to an accidental drug overdose. This is the first time I’ve been able to write about it.

    Daniel was a lean kid with a tender heart, a shy smile and more baggage from his childhood than even his broad shoulders could bear. No matter how tall he grew, I never let him get too big to give his Aunt Terri a kiss and a hug.

    We got the call on a Friday night that Daniel had gone home after his shift at Sonic, stopped breathing and was on a ventilator in Intensive Care. They found a combination of Ativan, Valium, Xanax and Methadone in his system. (I’ve since learned that even ONE Methadone can induce respiratory failure in some people). At first we assumed he was going to be okay, that this was going to be the wake-up call that would allow him to get the help he needed. As one person after another came forward, we realized that Daniel had known he was in serious trouble but had been asking the wrong people for help. This was not a suicide attempt. It was an addiction to the prescription drugs used for recreational purposes by so many of our kids.

    For three days the family kept a vigil at his bedside, crying and raging, pleading and praying. Since my husband and I are both nurses, we knew what it meant when the ICU nurses told us we no longer had to adhere to the visiting hours but could sit with him whenever we wanted.

    After a series of tests, the neurologist finally gathered us together to tell us that Daniel had been gone all along. That there was nothing left to do but say our goodbyes and offer his organs to someone who could keep some small part of him alive in this world. As I held his seventeen-year-old sister in my arms and promised her she would survive this, I’ll never forget her broken wail of, “But I don’t want to!”

    Daniel was more like a son than a grandson to my husband’s parents and watching Mike’s dad weep over his coffin was like watching John Wayne cry like a baby.

    After he was gone, I used to talk to his picture—I’d remind him of how much we loved him and yell at him for doing something so terribly foolish. Now I smile when I pass it and touch my fingertips to my lips, then briefly to the cool glass covering his face, knowing he is at peace and finally in the arms of the Father he always deserved. The Father we all deserve.

    If you know a kid that you suspect is in trouble, act. Open a dialogue. Confront. Get the rest of the family involved if you have to. Don’t just assume they’ll grow out of it.

    Because they might not get the chance.

    You looked as handsome as a sleeping prince in that hospital bed but my kiss could not wake you
    As I touched your cheek for the last time, you were everything to me that you would never be to any other woman—nephew, son, friend, brother, lover, father
    All I could do was lay my head upon your breast and weep my goodbye

    In memory of Daniel Lee Medeiros October 1985 - August 2006


    Renee Vincent said...

    This post has touched me so. I understand what you went through, as I, too, lost my little sister when she was only twenty in a fatal car accident. Our goodbyes were given in a morge and under the constraints of not being able to touch her.

    Your words at the end were so beautiful, and I'm sure, purposefully fairy-tale like in nature. Your blog will sit with me for quite a long time now.

    Thank you for sharing this difficult time with others.

    SlipStitchWitch said...

    I too felt this pretty deeply. I lost my only (lots of step and half) sibling a brother in 2003 when he was 17 and I was 18. He took his own life for reasons we will never understand. He was using weed and meth at the time. Its six years later and it still hurts me so. I haven't been able to write anything like this yet...we'll see.

    Thanks for sharing this with us.

    A Big Fan

    Cindy said...

    When I first clicked on the page & saw this gorgeous young man I thought I was in for a funny & sexy post that you so often do.

    And then I realized what it was about - I had read about your family's loss - whether from your blog and/or elsewhere, but did not know the circumstances. Thank you for your heart-breaking, yet beautiful post, thank you for your courage in sharing this tragedy. It will help, it does help.

    The world has lost another hero.

    Angelique Newman said...

    I'm so sorry for your loss.

    As I read through your blog my heart was there with you. It's been almost a year ago today that I lost my my sister-in-law. She would have been 28 years old this year. She was kindhearted, beautiful and always said I love you, whether it was at the end of a phone call or whether when we parted when visiting.

    She never forgot those three little words that will last a lifetime with me.

    Anonymous said...

    I am so sorry you lost your handsome young nephew. I moved to this small city in 2002 and there have been too many teenagers who have overdosed or been killed in car accidents because of being high.

    I liked how you asked us to help any teens in need.

    Your words moved me to tears.

    Anonymous said...

    Having lost someone close to me at a very young age to a tragic accident, I can identify with the pain and anger. And also the not talking about it.

    I so applaud your courage for sharing your story, and his. And I hope it will help many others think about their precious lives so this doesn't have to happen again.

    Tanya said...

    Teresa, I was so sorry to here of your loss. I know it's been three yrs, but the loss of a loved one never goes away. I lost my dad at 16 from a drug overdose. I am now 39 and still deal with the loss. I have a 16 yr old son and just had a talk the other night with him about drugs. He knows the history of my father who he never got to know and how it affected my life. Thank you for speaking out about you ordeal. Hopefully it will reach the ears of many someones in need of a little guidance.

    Sharliebel said...

    God Bless you, Teresa. This is such a soulful experience for you and I am so sorry.

    One of my nephews had a similar walk several years ago and I know he rests peacefully with the Lord. It's been hard for my sister who may never find that peace.

    Thank for sharing your feelings with us. I hope and pray that some other young person will be saved by your words.

    Sharlet Liebel