~Self medicating on adrenaline most of his life, my son, Chad, lived on the edge.   I would find myself on that edge more than once trying to save him~



I have survived abuse.  I have seen the destruction of alcohol and addiction in many lives intimately connected with mine.  I was blessed with two very beautiful and sensitive sons with difficult learning challenges.  I fought like a mama bear as an advocate for their educational needs.  I learned about love, relationships and divorce the hard way.  I have had a broken heart more times then I can count; and yet I have learned how to walk through the ashes of grief, joining other intrepid survivors.  I’ve learned to trust Spirit when I didn’t believe in God for most of my life. Even though there were so many blessings, and great moments during my lifetime, it would be the challenges that would stoke the fires of alchemy that would change my life. While I may touch on many of my stories, the story that changed my life forever is the one I’m about to tell you now.

Part I of VI

It wasn’t until recently when at the Vail Symposium one night I learned of a similar circumstance. I never understood why I could see myself from a distance, like a spectator, one of many, the day I found out on June 8, 2005 that my son had ended his life.

Nearly eight months before that, Chad, at my insistence left to move in with his father. Six Foot three, he leaned over to hug me like any other day.  “I love you,” he said.  I was late for work and have always wished I could have truly engrossed myself in that moment, the moment that I would feel his body against mine one final time. But how can we ever know.

In hindsight, I noticed and just as quickly dismissed little clues that happened that day. Chad had gotten up early, which was unheard of for him unless it was a night of drugs.  I saw him in the yard, and opening the door I found it curious on that cold November morning that he would be picking up cigarette butts that were lying around the yard.  I was touched.  Rarely would he think of something like that, not that he wasn’t giving and sweet.  He just didn’t think in a consequential manner.

I glanced at the pile of clean work clothes I had laid on the bench by the front door. Shaking my head, I thought, “just like Chad.”  I grabbed the clothes and walked down the two steps as I saw Chad loading a tool chest in the back of his pickup truck.  “Chad, you forgot your clothes!”  I said and then added, “why are you taking the tool box and what is with your truck?  Why is it running so rough?”  I don’t know he said, “I’ll run it into the shop today.”  Chad worked as a mechanic and loved his job.  He had called his boss for a lift into town that morning, as he often did.  “You better get going; Paul will be waiting on you.”

I handed Chad the pile of clothes and he put them in the seat beside him and climbing in, rolled down the window. He rested his elbow on the window sill and the thought crossed my mind that he looked just like he did in his Graduation picture, only the truck was white instead of red.

He bought this truck, a white Dodge Sports with red lettering because he knew I liked it. Everyone would like that truck.  After he left, I must have cranked my neck one hundred and eighty degrees several times a day as there were hundreds of white Dodges on the road….but none with red lettering on them.

With tears in my eyes I said, “Chad, why don’t you come home for dinner tomorrow night. Your dad and I have to go to the Slifer Awards Party tonight.  Maybe you could pick up a few more things.”

Chad nodded and I turned to lock the front door. “Mom,” he said.  “If I can’t work this out on my own, I’ll check myself in (rehab).”  I shook my head gratefully, teary eyed.

Why would he have said that if he had no plans of trying? Why would he have called his boss for a ride to work?  Why would he have stopped to buy cottage cheese for his lunch that day?  So many questions would never be answered.





2 thoughts on “A VIEW FROM THE EDGE”

  1. Great job Jan! Anxiously awaiting for Part 2 of 6 with tears in my eyes and much compassion in my heart for you and Chad.

    1. Thanks Lynn …..it seems like such a universal story today….when you read the statistics and listen to the news. When it happens to you, it gives you great pause for thought, compassion, insight that others may not have, and empathy for those suffering souls that can’t find their way out.
      I am passionate about being a catalyst for change and, if I can help one more parent avoid our suffering, it’s worth the effort of opening my heart once more to tell the story. We don’t all need to experience everything first hand in order to grow and to help others.

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