A guest post by Geri Barcheski, a loving mom who lost her son to addiction:
I believe we are sent into each life time to learn and be taught very valuable lessons. Some we are reluctant to learn and afterwards we have that aha moment. I've learned so very much in this lifetime of 50 years so far.
The lessons have been hard, very hard, but the ways in which I've been given to learn them have been the experiences of my life. And what I have learned so far is this:
We are brought here to learn to give love and to take love. We are here to learn about the value of it and all the many facets of love.
And it is not always the easy kind of love like when you fall head-over-heels in love with someone and you experience a whirlwind of emotions.
And not just the kind of pure joy and love that you feel when your amazing infant smiles at you or holds your finger with their little hand for the first time.
But we are here to learn about a deeper kind of love. Unconditional love.
Sometimes it comes in the form of a relationship gone wrong with someone that's loved and hurt you. But sometimes it comes from loving someone so deep that we must love them deeper than the wounds they created within us. Sometimes this someone is our parents but mostly I think it's our children often suffering from an addiction.
It isn't fair, it seems so unjust. Somehow, it seems the world has tilted on us a little too far over. I felt this way about my mother and father. Though I'd loved them, I resented the normal family life I never had in the crazy dysfunctional family I grew up in.
And yet with my mom, being the second parent to pass and me taking care of her for a few years, I grew impatient at the end. And in my grief, I realized the lesson of love I was being taught. It was this: have as few regrets as possible in loving the ones in our hearts. Give of self even when we feel we are entitled and have earned the right to be selfish and to put ourselves first, especially when we feel we have been taken advantage of. These are the times we are being tested to come to know the many facets of love. Of the pain it takes to love. And to show our love even if it doesn’t seem to be reciprocated or appreciated.
The same holds true in loving our children in the throes of addiction, which we all know now is a brain disease.
If God himself said to me in the wake of losing my son that He would wipe out the memory of him so that I would not have to live this pain till my last breath, I would turn Him down without a second’s hesitation because even through the pain, the anguish, the heartbreak and the loss, I would not take away one second of the love he gave to me and brought to my life. I loved him deeper than the hurt.
And I wish I had known that everything I worried about like how others would think I was less of a mother for having an addict for a child was so lame. The fact is I was more of a mother because I loved beyond all reason - when it was hard.
I wish I had known how insignificant the material treasures were; the jewelry and money and other missing things like my crystal figurines and my daughter’s gold necklace. They mean absolutely nothing in the loss of the child who was the one who took them. If God said I'll give him back to you and you will have nothing ever again, I would jump at it without a second’s hesitation.
But the lesson doesn't allow for that. I was given a bad hand to play in this life. Some cards I've played very badly. And those are the regret cards. Some cards I played from my heart without any logic or sense for doing so. Those are my saving grace cards, which help me balance the regrets. Yet the regrets are still there.
I wish I could have known about this multifaceted level of loving before.
I know this: the night my son passed at a friend’s house was just hours after he stood in front of me and his little sister as he was going out for the evening. He kissed us and hugged us both and told us he loved us as he always did, and she and I said the same to him. I had some inkling that he might have been growing weak. This was just a few weeks after treatment that was too short of a stay thanks to insurance. But I know looking back that if it had to be, it was one card I didn't have to put in the regret pile that cold rainy January morning.