“Okay, so, would you like to know what was in his system?”
“𝙲𝚊𝚗 𝙸 𝚐𝚞𝚎𝚜𝚜?”
𝚠𝚑𝚊𝚝’𝚜 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚛𝚍 𝚘𝚗𝚎?”
I knew Jesse was going to die. When I say knew, I didn’t mean December 22, 2020 at 4:20 p.m. I meant I knew if he kept acting so reckless something bad would happen. I asked the doctor what the third drug was because I knew there had to be something else. He had been more off than normal the last month he was alive. He had been more sad. He had an even higher increase in his self-loathing. He cried almost every day.
By December many had washed their hands of him.
I was told a week before his death “make sure you know who his life insurance is through,” and left to deal with the addiction monster alone. What little help Jesse was given was gone and it was just he and I again.
But it’s alright. Because those people are drowning in guilt, while I have absolutely none. I rest easy. I know they don’t. I did everything I could.
Jesse was exhausting. It was exhausting. He was exhausted. I was exhausted. But I didn’t give up and neither did he.
He had relapsed just a few months prior and the benevolent Dr. Jekyll that I knew was gone, leaving me again with Mr. Hyde. The horrible Mr. Hyde.
My grief is so very very complicated for so many reasons.
I loved someone with an addiction, who was surrounded by addiction and an unhealthy environment much of his life. Who eventually tried to break free of that addiction. He didn’t get the success story we had hoped for.
I loved two different people in the same body.
I have so much evidence of him being absolutely wonderful, nearly perfect. A perfect father, a perfect husband, a loyal friend.
I also have so much evidence to the contrary. Evidence that makes me sad to see. Evidence that I try to understand was a sickness and not a choice.
I know it wasn’t his choice.
Yet some days I feel as though it was, like many people feel about addiction. How very confusing.
Well why didn’t you just say this in the first place? Why did it take you 11 months to say he was an addict? Why didn’t you share the bad things he did?
Because people already know addiction is bad. They already know people with addictions can be downright horrible.
But what they don’t know is how amazing they can be. Or how very complicated all of it is. Much more complicated then choice. I didn’t want his death to be less because he was an addict.
We tend to do this for some reason, qualify deaths.
“Oh I’m so so sorry she passed… may I ask how?”
(Insert: Suicide, COVID with pre-existing condition, addiction, over-weight)
Any of those above reasons make those not dealing with the death feel better. They know they don’t have those problems so they feel safe from dying. But they aren’t.
I thought Jesse was unique for quite some time. He eventually was able to admit he had a problem. To seek help for that problem. Take medications. Verbalize how he felt. I was always proud of him for how far he came and the things he continued to overcome. If you spoke to him for a short amount of time he would tell you he struggled with drinking. It wasn’t a secret.
But he was so beaten down.
He had began to bring up things from the past, that I never knew. It was almost as though his suppression of trauma started to spill out, despite his best efforts to keep it away. Suppression doesn’t seem to work long term. But what do I know?
Jesse just wanted to make everyone happy, even if it made him hurt. On the occasion when he did speak up, he was ignored. He would usually let it go, at least at face value.
He spent most of the year in 2020 sober and on medications. He was doing pretty well. But by September 2020 he began to fall off the wagon.
Despite a great start to his year, my anxiety was through the roof. I knew it could be any second and relapse would be right there rearing his ugly head.
I wonder if when he told people “I am a recovering drug addict and alcoholic,” if they were more educated, maybe they would not have given him fentanyl. Or alcohol. Or looked him in his face and said “you’re not an alcoholic.” “You’re not bipolar.”
But what do doctors and Jesse himself know?
Part of the issue was that Jesse was SURROUNDED by addiction. To him, that was normal. The last thing an addict wants to do is have their friend or family stop using, because then they might have to acknowledge they also have a problem. The ratio of people who were addicts around him was too high. Removal was hard because they infiltrated every aspect of his life- work and home. It was in his face constantly.
One morning before work he told me this. It was 5:30 a.m. he woke me up crying. He told me he was scared to leave. He said he was only safe “here” (at the house) but once he went outside he wasn’t. I told him to stay home. Don’t drive to work. Don’t go to anyones house. His oldest daughter also told him this. But he felt like he had to. So he did.
We couldn’t keep him locked in the house. We wanted to, but it wasn’t realistic. He had to leave, at least he felt that way, and he was scared. He was like a moth approaching a light. Except the light was a neon liquor sign. He said it did something to his brain when he saw it, any will power he had shut off. He would literally black out, even before using the substance.
I don’t know precisely what happened that day he died, but I know enough.
The young man Jesse was with knew he was and addict and had relapsed. He saw Jesse passed out a few times. He knew, like many did in Jesse’s circle, that he had relapsed and was struggling.
By December, Jesse had gotten so bad that he was publicly crying at his job about his addiction. Literally begging for help. His job was very supportive of him. They even called me and we spoke about it. They were willing to help. They kept him employed and wanted to see him succeed. They were willing to do whatever he needed done.
I doubt Jesse’s hand was forced that day. I doubt Jesse was having one of his emotional episodes when he got in the car with the last person to see him alive, “BR.”
If anything, Jesse could have been in a chipper mood, the fake one he put on for many people, and taken the drug willingly, eager to feel a high, with a smile on his face.
I will never know the details because I wasn’t there.
The people that were there are liars, so I will never know. But I do know they are still alive. Very alive. Like eating out with their family alive or celebrating birthdays alive. Didn’t show up to Jesse’s funeral alive. Checking my Facebook alive. That type.
Not caring or owning that maybe dealing fentanyl wasn’t the best career choice.
Jesse *chose* to do the drug. The person giving it to him was sadly not his friend, but just a pathetic piece of trash preying on someone who was weak. I’m glad that $60 was worth it.
Perhaps if he didn’t know that Jesse was an addict I could be more sympathetic.
However, he was still dealing fentanyl. Addict or not, he lacked an education to know how deadly it was. If he was educated and he chose to deal something so potent, he knows he is scum. He will likely continue to deal. His life will go on, like nothing happened.
There is no karma. He could actually live a decent life… however decent a life could be dealing fentanyl I suppose, but for him he likely doesn’t have high expectations of his life anyhow.
See? My grief is complicated. So many layers of anger and sadness for so many things.
Which has led me to the thought that I should write a book.
I have too much to say in one setting for a blog and I really want people to see what I saw.
I’ve been journaling since I was 8. A real Harriet the Spy if you will. So I think I’m going to take my entries regarding addiction (there’s a ton) put them together, and that be my book.
In addition to journal entrys, I also would write Jesse letters when he relapsed. I did this because he was impossible to speak to drunk. So I would write a letter and hand it to him in the morning when he was sober. We would discuss the events of the night before and almost always, I heard some version of:
“I am sorry. I am poison to you, the kids, everyone. I know I will fix this. I will figure it out. I will be there for Wren. I have this new medication. I will beat this thing again.”
So. I have to write something.
It wasn’t safe for Jesse.
It’s not safe for addicts.
Therefore its not safe for any addicts family.
I wrote these letters to Jesse off and on for 13 years. Whenever he would relapse the letters would begin again.
Here’s the last one, sent an hour before he died: