Submitted by: Andrea Dozier
My Tribute: Because of heroin, I am now half a person. Two little girls don’t have a Daddy anymore. We lost our sweet Daniel to a lethal combination of heroin and alcohol. He fought his demons so hard, and for so long. Now he doesn’t have to fight anymore. He beat them for a while. Determination and distance from the bad influences kept him clean for 3 years. He was working and we were building a new life with our daughters. But a death in the family required him to go back to his hometown, and put him back in the reach of those bad influences. I’ll never know what made him decide to use that one more time, but he did, and that decision cost him his life. But that’s not what I want people to remember about him. I want them to remember his kindness, his love for his family, the joy he took in his children, his intelligence and curiosity to learn new things every day. I want them to remember his engaging smile, his handsome face, and his belief that he could become more than he was if only he could overcome the weight of alcohol and drugs that had held him down for most of his life. Daniel, we miss you every day – I know you are looking down on us and watching over us, waiting patiently until we can be together again.
Submitted by: Sherri Hole
My Tribute: Ty was a home-town Hudson kid who loved this town. He was born in River Falls and was a very welcome baby, our youngest son. Ty grew up with a loving family with two parents, two brothers, pets, stories at night, church on Sunday, dinner at the family table, and lots of friends. He had great friends that he hung out with in our neighborhood near E.P. Rock -many of them friends from early elementary years all the way through high school. He went to Sunday School and Bible Camp. He greatly enjoyed being a part of our church’s youth group. He was confirmed. He enjoyed school- except for math classes- and loved all the social opportunities school and sports presented. Being the youngest of 3 boys, he grew up first watching & later playing booster baseball, football, & basketball. His picture has appeared in the Hudson Star Observer several times- when he dressed up as a “money tree” for the Rotary Club’s Halloween parade, when he was on a float in the Homecoming Parade with the football team, when he was Prom Prince and now in his obituary.
Ty took incredible pleasure in being with people his own age. He had a comfortable, low-key personality and fit it well with almost anyone. He had great intuition and went out of his way to make people comfortable and entertained in social situations. He was a thoughtful son who did chores around the house. He made his own birthday cards and wrote in the last card he gave me “”Happy Birthday Mom! Mom, thank you so much for always being there for me when I need you, and for always believing in me even if I don’t. You are the best mom anyone could ever ask for, we are all so lucky to have you in our lives. I hope you have an awesome birthday! Love, Ty.” Ty was a “regular” Hudson kid with a bright future and lots of plans to finish school, meet and fall in love with his “beacon of hope” and have kids of his own.
After graduating from High School and a devastating break up with his first girlfriend, he was isolated from most of his friends and family. He’d made choices that took his life off track and was heart broken, ashamed and embarrassed.. He felt that he’d been left behind. At 18, he thought he needed to be independent and get through it on his own with minimal help from his family. Unknown to us, he began using Oxycotin. His life quickly spiraled downwards- he wanted to move ahead with his plans but something always happened that made his plans fail. One of his friends called us in late August and told us through many tears that he was worried about Ty. Ty and “lots of kids from Hudson” were “chasing the dragon”- smoking heroin. Ty denied it all when confronted. We watched, worried, continued to monitor and question him. Things began disappearing from our home. When confronted in November 2011, Ty shocked us by telling us he was injecting heroin and his using was out of control. He’d progressed from Oxycotin to smoking heroin to injecting it. He told us opiates are out of your system in four to five days and won’t show up on a drug test after that. He immediately went intoa 28 day in-patient program. He looked progressively more calm, focused, comfortable with himself during our visits. He told us he had the tools to deal with his drug problem and that would never happen again. We were full of hope and were happy he’d addressed his problem.
After treatment, he moved into a sober house in St. Paul in order to attend intensive out-patient treatment He relapsed twice and was kicked out after 3 weeks. We talked frankly about the possibility of heroin killing him. He was kicked out of his sober house and his out patient program. It’s ironic that we heard again and again that “relapse is part of recovery” but when someone relapses, they are kicked out of their treatment programs. Ty didn’t want to return to in-patient treatment so soon. . He moved to a sober house/horse ranch based on faith. He reconnected with his faith & felt he had great success in working on his recovery there. He had a sense of community and purpose. He began to rebuild his sense of worth through helping kids with cognitive disabilities and other problems ride the horses. He stayed for four months. He thought he was strong enough to “get his life back on track” and wanted to enroll in college and get a job. We didn’t realize that staying sober needed to be his full time job and focus for the next few years. We thought he had made it through a terrible “stage” and were glad he was ready to move on. Ty noted that when he made good choices, good things happened to him. He frequently talked with us about being sober. His connection and love for each member of our family was evident through all of his challenges. I understand now how hard Ty worked to protect us from what was really going on in his life and keep the ugly parts of his life separated from his family. We know Ty died knowing how much he was loved. We will love and miss you always
Submitted by: Anne LaQuesse
My Tribute: You are at peace now my angel. Those demons cant touch you anymore. I just wish I had more time with you, 21 yrs just wasnt enough, but we will reunite again someday in a much better place. You are one of the strongest people i know, you tried so hard to fight this disease, but the disease was much too strong. Now theres no more fighting, just peace, and thats all i could want for you. Love and miss you so very much.
Submitted by: Kim
Our family has shared our journey in a blog. Grant was an amazing son, brother,uncle and friend. Our family will never be the same with out him.
Submitted by: Lynn Stauder
My Tribute: To my daughter Krystle, 28 years old and a mother of 3 year old. I want to help in the cause of drug overdose. Either by volunteer, education, meet other parents going through the loss of a child. Krystle didn’t know she was going to die, she had her and her daughters Halloween costume laid out, even though it was over a week away.
Submitted by: Connie Sanderlin
My Tribute: My boy Billy was a tough guy on the outside, but a soft, momma’s boy, deep inside. He got mixed up with the wrong people and couldnt seem to get loose. I miss him dearly. I think a piece of me died on the day he did as well.
Love you always Billy
Submitted by: Dan McPhail
My Tribute: In loving memory of my first son Todd McPhail, a kind, loving, funny, warm hearted spontaneous and briliant MRI techician in 5 of the nation’s best hospitals and the best son a man could have. He had Bi Polar and chose to treat it with alchohol and opiates instead of a doctor “doctors will kill you dad” he’d often say. He mixed Zanax, Roxycontin and vodka at midnight November 19, 2012 and 4 hours later died i pray peacefully in his sleep, ending my life as i knew it as well. It’s been l3 months and i still can’t believe he’s gone. I know he would want me to know he’s sorry for the pain he’s caused everyone from his mom and i to the 5 year old little girl Savannah who will barely remember how kind and loving a dad Todd was–to his only brother Troy whose grief is beyond belief. Psychologists say the sudden death of any child is the most traumatic event that can happen to a human being, and it almost killed me. And as the people in this organization know, when its accidental overdose the guilt and anger are beyond description, but i’ve forgiven Todd and i refuse to feel guilty. Two astounding coincidences: twice in the month before he died, Todd said to me “dad, you’ve got to get TROY help or he’ll die of addiction”. And FOUR HOURS before he died the VERY LAST WORDS he said to us were “i hate Heather, my little girls mom–she won’t let me see Savannah; sometimes i wish she were dead” and i swear to god my wife’s last words to him 6 hours before his death were “don’t say that Todd–God might take you for saying that”. I think what hurts worse is not being to say goodbye, that i’ll take care of everyone you loved todd; that i forgive you; that since mom almost died with you in childbirth every day of your 37 years was a bonus; that you were the most fun, enjoyable, loveable, spontaneous affectionate and caring person i ever knew; that you were everything i wanted in a son; that’s what hurts the worst. But as your mom said “you know Dan, he doesn’t know he’s gone; to him it’s midnight Nov. 18 2012 and always will be. He’s in no pain and no one can hurt him. And he’d have never done it on purpose; he just forgot how many he took”. And the only reason i don’t feel worse is that he was not an unhappy person; always a smile, always up; just the temper flareup bi polar folks have but rarely depressed. Such as waste of a beautiful man. Todd was only 5 feet tall but was a big man to me—a compassionate medical tech that patients and doctors loved; a terrific brother and uncle; as close to perfect as a young man can be. So, since i spent 25 years as a broadcaster and run a mobile dj service, i’m joining the Lapeer Chapter of this organization to speak to young men and women in hopes i can save one. Biggest irony: three years before his death ANOTHER of Todd’s friend’s od’d on Oxy and alcohol and at his FUNERAL Todd said “you don’t have to worry dad–that’d never happen to me–i’m too smart for that”. PS: gOD BLESS this organization–no other support group cares or understands. My son Troy and i discovered Todd’s body at 8 am 4 hours after his death and if you want to know pain my friend that is it. I wouldn’t wish the pain of losing someone healthy to accidental OD on my worst enemy. And to the bastards at Purdue Pharmaceutical who continue to make the poison called Roxy and Oxy contin, may you burn in hell. Dan McPhail, Burton MI
Submitted by: Dorthi DiGilio
My Tribute: Dean is missed so immensely by so many people. We miss Dean’s strength, humor, caring, and just how he lit up a room with the sparkle in his eye. Dean lived life fearlessly. He battled Cystic Fibrosis, depression, and addiction with everything he had. Ultimately Dean took his own life because he saw no other way to end the battle. Life with out Dean is something that I, his mom, will never adjust to. I somehow have the strength and courage to go on each day because I know that is what Dean would expect from me. I know Dean is guiding me everyday. Dean was extremely talented mechanically and loved riding and working on his motorcycle. He also was a high achiever in mixed martial arts. Dean loved his family very much and his dogs Buster and Nala.
Submitted by: Jeanette Schneider
My Tribute: Kim was a beautiful, kind, gentle soul who struggled with mental illness and addictions. Combining my efforts with others who have lost their children to problems such as these, I hope to make a difference and perhaps save other children who are struggling in life with the same issues.
Submitted by: Theresa Burke
My Tribute: Ben was my son–a shy, humble young man who battled heroin addiction bravely and openly.
He did everything humanly and spiritually possible to get well, but the disease took him after a 5 year battle. His family does not believe his overdose was an accident. He gave up. He was exhausted and depleted and had just completed 6 months clean. He had restored everything that mattered most…his friends, family and his God. Rather than risk losing everything again, he killed his addict with his favorite weapon–heroin. Ben never had a choice after the first time he tried it. His words: “My brain is wired to kill me.” Heroin took his body but not his soul. May God forgive anyone who says that a heroin addict deserves to die. Would you say that to a person fighting cancer? It is the same. Ben didn’t want to die, but dying became a better choice than living one more day as a heroin addict. Thats how much fun he was having! I miss my son so much, the grief still takes me down like a grenade when I least expect it. I admire Ben’s courage and faith. On the morning he died he went to church and to his favorite AA meeting, he had been praying the rosary for months and had gone to confession. He called us to say goodbye, but we didn’t realize what he was preparing to do. He came home to die while we were on vacation. He died on Palm Sunday 2012. His body laid on my kitchen floor for four days before it was found. We continue to heal as we realize that all of our prayers were answered, just not in the way that we thought! Ben is clean and whole and finally free.