Saturday, April 21, 2012


It was five years ago, around this time, on this date. I woke up to a phone message from my niece. It was her 30th birthday and, my sons and I were to be heading to Toronto, to celebrate with my family.

The message was not what I expected and it's left a hole in my heart that I know will never heal. 

Lisa (my niece) was actually calling me from my parents home. I naturally assumed she was there to drive them to my sister's house. But it was awfully early, especially for Lisa.

When I returned Lisa's call, I could not believe what she was telling me. My nephew, Lisa's brother, was in ICU at the London Hospital. He was in a coma due to an accidental drug overdose.
When Damon came into this world, there was a problem that resulted in him being transferred to Sick Children's hospital. He looked like the baby in the posters I used to see, while riding the subway, tubes going into almost every orifice.

While driving to London with both my sons, I told them the story of Damon's birth. I told them "He's a fighter. He can win this". Of course I always try to think of the best.
Lisa and Damon were always very close, with roughly 15 months between them.
         When we arrived at the hospital, the truth hit me like a kick to the stomach.

The nurses were wonderful. And they were honest. Damon was not going to pull through this. And if, being a big if, he did survive; he would be forever hooked on machinery, not even aware of his own existence.

It was the beginning of a few days in hell. My sister had to make that decision. A decision I couldn't imagine, nor would wish on anybody.

There were meetings, arguments, blaming and finger pointing. But the reality was, we knew we had to let him go.

On April 24, 2006, my sister, her partner, my niece and her daughter, my mother and I gathered around, Damon while the nurse disconnected all the machinery that was keeping him alive. It was peaceful. For that I will be forever grateful. But it will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Every day I hear or read the judgements people make about "junkies". How easy it is to judge when you're not standing by watching, knowing you are doing all you can. When you don't know that person and what brought that person to where he/she is now.
The irony is Damon was in rehabilitation just a few months before this happened. Sadly when he re-visited Toronto for a family funeral, he slipped up. When he returned to London, he failed the urine test and was evicted.

I'm writing this because as much as our government tries to take control of addictions awareness, it isn't enough. And it needs to be more truthful. I won't get into the politics as I do not want to take this in another direction.

There is nothing we can do to bring back Damon. I write this on his loving sister's 35th birthday, knowing that inside she will be crying.

There is also nothing we can do to bring back other victims of drug addictions. And yes I said victims.

When a person becomes addicted to drugs, they're no longer that same person. The addiction becomes their life. It defines them.

We need to do everything we can with our children before they decide that experimenting with drugs can be a bit fun. Or a good escape from reality, which happens to be the case for many victims. 
I love you Damon. And I will always miss you.