Our son Matthew James Cleary died of an overdose a little over four years ago.
January 21, 1991 at 4:24 p.m., my son was placed in my arms for the first time, just minutes after he took his first breath. He was so precious, his face flawless, his eyes so big and blue, and his skin so soft. I kissed him and instantly told him I loved him.
On December 20, 2013, I was led to a barely-lit room where my beautiful son lay dead on the floor. This time, his face was not flawless, his lips were purple, his big blue eyes were drained of color, and his skin was not soft, only very cold. He had passed away from an overdose.
The feeling of helplessness and unimaginable pain never leaves you. Sadness and despair has become a common part of our lives. There are days where I am almost catatonic, lifeless. A minute does not go by where I do not think of my son and ache for him. I never know what sound, sight or smell is going to trigger a memory. And while the memories of Matthew are so sweet, with them comes the realization that he is gone. And each time that realization hits my heart it is devastating.
My son was brought up in a loving, extended family. He was raised in the church, even served as an Altar Boy. He played organized sports, had many friends and was on the honor roll all through school. There were many family gatherings we all enjoyed. There were many happy holidays spent together. They were many family vacations that created precious memories. Does this sound like an environment that would predispose a child that to use heroin? No. But it is happening increasingly to families from all walks of life.