I Miss the Hell Out of You

One day fades into the next and they’re all the same; in a fog, fighting anxiety and some nights I wish that I wouldn’t wake up the next morning.

I miss the hell out of you and I suppose that I always will, I wish that I could have seen you on that last day, held your hand, told you how very much I love you.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about your last day and think “what if”.

My life is filled with what-ifs and I know that I’ll never have any answers to them.  I can never be at peace when my mind is filled with all of the what-ifs and maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be.

Derek’s Place is my gift to you, a way to carry on your name in a good way.  I want people to know the real you, not the addict you and I will spend the rest of my life telling anyone that will listen about my Son, the man with the amazing smile, good heart and unconditional love for his family, friends and 2 precious little boys.

I wonder how you got this ugly disease of addiction; did something traumatic happen to you when you were young?  Was it because you were prescribed Ritalin when you were only 8 years old?  Was it all genetic?  Were you bi-polar when you were that young and you weren’t diagnosed correctly?  Whatever the reason you didn’t deserve the life that addiction gave to you, you deserved the wonderful life that you wanted so desperately, the one where you were successful, were happy and in love.

I know you spent your entire life searching for something, searching for happiness, for love, for acceptance and in some fleeting moments you had those things and then in an instant they would be gone as the addiction took over again.  I’m so sorry that I didn’t understand addiction sooner, that I enabled you for so long, that I actually told you, years ago, that you just needed to stop doing drugs as if it were that easy.

I remember when you told me why you relapsed, you said it was because when you were clean you couldn’t stand the guilt of what you had done to people when you were high.  You had so much guilt and shame inside because of your addiction and I told you that when you were high that wasn’t really you but you didn’t believe me.  I have learned to share without shame because there is NO shame in addiction, it is a disease and a very ugly one that turns people into someone that is unrecognizable to their family and friends.  I’ve always been open and honest about your addiction and I don’t intend to stop now, I will do whatever it takes to remove the stigma surrounding addiction.

Derek’s Place is all a part of that plan, I want people, just like you, to know that they are worthy of love, success and happiness.  That they are not alone and there are people that care and will do whatever it takes to support them in their recovery.  It has been said that there is no follow-thru after rehab, in Kent County, and I agree with that 100%.  We are the follow-thru that the addicts, the homeless and the people with other mental health issues need.

And I do all of this for you Derek, all of it because you were worthy of love, happiness and success and you didn’t believe it.  I did and I still do….I love you Derek and I miss the hell out of you


6 Months

Yesterday was 6 months, a half a year, 181 days since you left us….some days it feels like forever and other days it seems like I just got the call from the Doctor.

I’ll never forget that day, ever.  That’s the day that a part of me died inside and shattered my heart into a million pieces.  As the Mom of an addict you always know that you could get that call but you never believe that you will.  That won’t happen to MY Son, he’ll get it right this time.  But I did get the call and you didn’t get it right and all of your chances were taken away.  It will never make sense to me, never.  You were so full of life and had so many hopes and dreams; why did God choose you to die?  I always told you that I could never fully comprehend what you felt inside because I’m not an addict; were you ready to go?  Had you had enough?

Christian and I spread some of your ashes in the Cumberland River in Nashville, then we spent the day on Broadway…you would have loved it!  That little boy is starting to look like you and he certainly has your personality!  He’s adventurous and fearless and so funny!  He reminds me of you when you were that little, when you were my happy, blue-eyed little boy, before you experienced disappointment and sadness.  I know they say that I didn’t cause it, I can’t change it and I can’t cure it but man sometimes I wonder…was there one (or several) things that I did that caused you to self-medicate?  If there was I am so very sorry and I wish I could take it back whatever it was.

I found a little, antique, wooden box at Marcy Jo’s in Columbia, TN; of course I had to buy it.  I sent a picture of it to Sam and she said that you would have stolen it from me…haha, you might have tried to.  I think that I’m going to put your NA coins in it, there are a lot of them, several 24 hr coins, a 30 day coin but I don’t think that your 6 month coin is in there.  I don’t think that I told you this but I have all of my Dad’s coins, from his 20 years of being clean and sober and I was waiting for the day that I could give you his 1 year coin.  That day will never come now.

This is the worst pain that I have ever felt, my heart hurts; they say that my life will never be the same, the pain will not lessen and I’ll forever be grieving, they say that I will learn to live with it.  Maybe, some day, I will but not today, I am feeling anger but it’s not towards you, it’s towards God.  I just don’t understand why he would take you away from me, Sam, your Sisters, your friends but most of all your boys.  It doesn’t make me feel better when people say “it’s all part of God’s plan”….I don’t care, it’s a stupid plan and I want you back.

Sometimes I think I’m in a nightmare and I just want to wake up and none of this happened, but I’m already awake and you’re not here.  Yesterday, when it was your 6 month anniversary, I was on my way back from Tennessee, I never shed one tear but I did look up into the sky and silently ask you for a sign…the clouds formed a heart.  Thank you Derek

I love you my beautiful, sweet Boy and I will never ever forget you….ever


Dear Derek…

168 days and I don’t miss you any less…but great things are happening in your name!   Derek’s Place, A Recovery Cafe, Inc will be open before you know it!  My target date is January 8, 2019, the 1 year anniversary of when you left us.

We have a ton of work to do to make this happen but I believe you put Jesse Graham in my path to make this a little easier for me.  He’s in recovery and has the same passion to help addicts and homeless as I do; he knows that I do all of this for you.  I couldn’t take your pain and suffering away but I want to give hope to other people, just like you, that there IS a good life out there when they get clean and that they deserve that life!

I remember many Saturday nights when you wanted to use but wanted to go to a meeting so that you wouldn’t and there were no meetings…the Clubs closed at 9 so if you couldn’t get to a meeting you would go get high.  I want people that want to be clean to have somewhere to go during those times and have fun with people just like themselves!  You didn’t have any friends in recovery here, not like the ones you had in Philly, and I think it’s important for addicts to have the support of people in recovery and in the community for them to be successful.

You never believed that you deserved to be happy and have a good life; even though I and so many  other people told you that you did.  You did deserve everything good this world has to offer Derek, I wish that you would have believed that.  You had a brain altering disease and the drugs took over, I know that you had so much shame and guilt from your addiction and that’s why you would use because you couldn’t stand feeling that way; I know this because you told me.

I haven’t seen much of the boys this Summer but I want to; it just seems like I’ve had more bad days than good days and on the bad days I just want to be alone.  Maybe that’s backwards, maybe if I spent time with them on the bad days it would make me feel better.  I just know that I have to let myself feel all of these feelings and not try to hide them or cover them up.

My vision for Derek’s Place is huge and I won’t stop until that vision is complete, you deserve that and so much more!

It seems like everyone is moving on with their lives and I’m just stuck here, missing you, grieving you and wishing like hell that this had never happened.  I know it’s selfish of me but I would go through every bit of pain again just to have you here, all of it.   That’s selfish because you were in a lot more pain than I was and now all of that pain and struggling is gone and your soul is at peace and that’s all I ever wanted for you, for your struggles to be over and your soul to be at peace.  I didn’t want you to have to die for that to happen but for some reason that’s what God decided.  Were you just so sick that he knew that you would never be able to accomplish recovery and have the life that you deserved here?  So many questions that I know I’ll never have answers to.

I’m going to Nashville in a couple of weeks and I’ll spread some of your ashes there and when I go to Italy in the Fall I’ll spread some of your ashes in London and some all over Italy, you were a gypsy, like me, and I think that you would like that.  I know that Sam & Luke were going to spread some up in the mountains where you guys used to ride your dirt bikes, I know that you loved that!

I love you so much Derek and my heart is broken and this new normal sucks big time but your death will not be a statistic!  I refuse to let that happen!  Everyone is going to know what a great man you were and what a giving heart you had because of course….I do all of this for you



This New Normal…

…is sad.

That is what I’m feeling lately, just sad…

Sad that my Son struggled with this addiction for most of his life and even though he wanted so badly to be clean and lead a normal life; he just couldn’t get there.

Sad that he died, all alone, in a hospital room surrounded by strangers.

Sad that I will never see him get married and have the family that he wanted.  He wanted to marry Sam with his whole heart, but he knew that he couldn’t even ask her as long as he was using and his life was so unstable.

Sad that when I saw him in November that was the last time that I would ever see my Son and I didn’t know it.  I would have hugged him good-bye a little longer and a little tighter.

Sad that I won’t ever get another text saying Good Morning Momma, I love you, have a good day

Sad that we didn’t have longer to enjoy the good relationship that we were building.

Sad that Derek didn’t know how much I loved him and why.

Sad that he doesn’t get to see Alexander and Christian grow up to be young men.

Sad that Alexander is being adopted and they’re changing his last name, he was the only one that was going to carry on Derek’s name.  It’s like they’re trying to erase everything about Derek from his life.

Sad that the boys won’t have their Dad in their lives to play with them and make memories with them.  Now they hold what little memories they have in their hearts and in a box.  Christian won’t remember anything, he’s just too young; he’ll only know what people tell him and the pictures that he has.

So much sadness, will it always be this way?

Casey invited me to go camping this weekend and as much as I would love to go I’m afraid that I’ll have too much anxiety once I’m there so I’m not going.  I also feel like I should help Ashley pack because I won’t be in town when she’s moving.  What I really want to do is lay on my couch all weekend and watch whatever I want on tv; but my niece is staying with me so I don’t get any time to myself any more.  I miss that

I miss my Son and I don’t know how to move forward in this new life; I think that, right now, I don’t want to.  I just want to go to work and go home and remember my Son, write to him and cry.  I can’t imagine my life any other way…is this my new normal?  Maybe, for now, it is…and that makes me sad.

158 Days…

Another month, another week and another day without Derek; not sure how I do it but I get through the months and weeks and days.  Most of the time I feel like I’m in a fog and all of the time I feel like I don’t fit in anywhere.

At work, especially, I feel like I don’t belong here, I’m different and people always ask me where’s your cheerful self at?  I don’t tell them this but she died with my Son. I feel guilty if I laugh or have any glimpse of happiness in my life.  I feel like an outsider no matter where I am, whether I’m with family or friends it just doesn’t matter.  It makes me sad that I feel like an outsider at work, I used to love my job and my co-workers (most of them) were amazing after Derek died, they aren’t the ones that changed, I am.

I am getting closer to starting Derek’s Place though, that’s really the only thing that I want to do right now is get that started.

My electric was shut off a couple of months ago, I never opened the bills, I just sent money but apparently it wasn’t enough money.  My landlord was in disbelief that I wasn’t opening my mail; I said that stuff just isn’t important to me…who cares.  She acted like I was the most irresponsible person she had ever met; I told her that since Derek died that stuff wasn’t important to me, she still didn’t get it.   In the whole scheme of things it just really doesn’t matter to me.

I do have good days though, when I’m spending time with my grandkids, when I’m working on Derek’s Place, when I’m doing something new to the house; these are the things that I enjoy now.  I’ve started selling all of my project stuff because that doesn’t interest me anymore.

I had a meeting with the Executive Director, of a non-profit, the other day to discuss the Lights of Hope Event.  Once we were done with that I started telling her about Derek’s Place and my vision for it, she said was your Son’s name Derek?  I said how did you know that?  She said because of the name, I felt so stupid!  Duh yes his name is Derek, she said would you mind telling me his last name?  I said Kardos; she said I knew Derek very well and he was such a great guy!  She had met him years ago at a bar that he worked at and she was the Manager and she would run into him from time to time once she starting working in the non-profit sector.  She said that the last time she saw him, probably last November because that was the last time he was here, he didn’t look well and she gave him one of her cards and said Derek I can get you help if you want help.  Obviously he never reached out to her, I’m sure that he was ashamed that she had seen him that way.  Even though he shouldn’t have been.

I know that this is all part of the grieving process and I’ll find a new normal, eventually, I know that I’ll never get over Derek being gone but I’m hoping that some day I’ll have a life again, one that Derek will be proud of.


Dear Derek…

It’s been 155 days since you left me;  I really don’t know how I’m supposed to go on in this life without you.  I’m just going thru the motions and most days I don’t even want to get out of bed, but I do.

I’ve been thinking a lot about your last days here and I feel so much sadness for you, you felt so hopeless, I could hear it in your voice the last time I talked to you.  I wish that I could have fixed everything for you but we both knew that I had to let you do it your way.  Your way didn’t work damnit!

Someone told me that a week before you died you were telling them about me and how I loved you, no matter that you were an addict or the awful things that you had done, and you didn’t understand how I could love you.  This makes me so sad that you couldn’t see you through my eyes; Derek you were NOT a bad person, you were a sick person and you needed help.  What I saw was a man with a great big giving heart that was hurting inside and as your Mom, I wanted so badly to take that hurt away….but I couldn’t.

I saw a Man that would have done anything for his friends and family, when you were clean, and you did do things for us.  One day you had $50 in your pocket and your nephew needed a prescription that cost $40, your Sister didn’t have the money and you went and bought the prescription.  One day I took you to get your truck on the West Side and I was following you in my car; you stopped in the middle of the street, under an overpass, and jumped out of your truck to give a homeless man your jacket.  You helped me build my bookshelves, fix my car, helped me with yard work…There are so many more stories of your giving heart and generosity and I love hearing them from your friends all over the Country.

Derek, I know how much you loved your boys and I know that you were so tormented over the fact that you couldn’t be there for them the way that they deserved you to be.  I know that you wanted to be the best Dad for them and you wanted to be involved in their daily lives and I will make sure that they know that too.  You weren’t a bad Dad, you were a very sick Dad.

Most days I don’t think that I’m dealing with your death very well but my Dr and my therapist tell me that I’m doing what I’m supposed to do; I’m letting myself grieve.   The anxiety, I think, is the worst!  There are days when I absolutely cannot go to work because it’s so bad.  I cry at the drop of a hat and I talk to you all of the time.  I don’t pray to God anymore because he never answered any of my prayers before so what’s the point.

I will not let your death be another statistic in the epidemic!  That’s why I’m starting a non-profit in your name.  Derek’s Place, A Recovery Cafe is going to be a place that you would have loved!  You are going to help so many people and I know that would make you happy!  Everything I do, I do for you Derek because I love you more than you knew because the addict Derek wasn’t who you were, that was the disease.  I always knew that you were still in there somewhere and every once in awhile I would see the real you and it gave me hope that you would see it too.

Rest in Heaven my Beautiful Boy; I will love you forever

…Until I see you again

Your Momma

147 Days

The days go by and one just seems to run into the other; I miss him so much.

The last few days have been okay, my anxiety is really bad again; so that means tears and getting annoyed very easily.  When the phone rings at work it annoys me so much and those are the times that I just want to be at home where I don’t have to deal with anything.

I got to have breakfast with Derek’s best friend and his bf yesterday; it was nice.  Bryan probably knows Derek better than anyone on this planet, including me, and I can talk to him about Derek and he understands.  I wish I could spend more time with him but he lives in Jersey so I don’t get to see him much at all.

I quit going to therapy last month; I think that when you go to therapy you should feel better when you leave there, I feel worse when I leave so I stopped going.

I spent part of Memorial Day weekend with Christian; we have so much fun together!  He’s such a good boy and he reminds me so much of Derek, he’s fearless and adventurous just like Derek was.  We talk about Derek and he says “my Daddy is in Heaven”, I always tell him yes he is and he’s watching over you all of the time and protecting you.  It makes me sad that he won’t remember the things that they did together, he’s just too young.  There aren’t a lot of pictures of the two of them together either; I wonder if he’ll ask why someday.

I wish that I would have made the trip to Philly, even once, to visit Derek and have him show me around “his” town.  We would have had a great time.  I wish I would have stayed on the phone with him longer the last time we talked.  He was supposed to call me back later that day; I wish he would have.

I wish that Derek hadn’t of had such a hard life, that he didn’t live with such a troubled soul.  There are so many things that I wish for him and none of those wishes will ever come true for him.

When he was clean he had so much to offer the world, I wish he would have been able to do great things but most of all I wish that my Son had been HAPPY every single day.