I’ll Stand By You

“Oh, why you look so sad?
Tears are in your eyes
Come on and come to me now
Don’t be ashamed to cry
Let me see you through
’cause I’ve seen the dark side too” – Six months ago my daughter’s boyfriend died. She called me to her bedroom and when I opened the door she said, “Mommy, please don’t be mad at me. Phil is dead.” My mind started racing. Why would I be angry? Who is playing this terrible joke on my daughter? She burst into tears and started sobbing uncontrollably. I was in denial. How could this be? He just had dinner with us last weekend.

“When the night falls on you
You don’t know what to do
Nothing you confess
Could make me love you less” – Phil had been addicted to Oxycontin. It was the reason for their break-up many times. I had no idea. A week before she had put her foot down and said she couldn’t deal with it anymore. It was the drugs or her. He chose her. He went off cold turkey. And died four days later from complications of withdrawal. The only people who knew he was quitting were her and two of his closest friends. Because withdrawal symptoms mimic the flu that’s all his parents thought he had. A common flu.

“So if you’re mad, get mad
Don’t hold it all inside
Come on and talk to me now
Hey, what you got to hide?” – She felt guilt. She felt anger. She felt tremendous loss. The pain she felt doesn’t even begin to describe. Her first love. Gone. At age 17. She withdrew from me, from us, from life.

“When you’re standing at the crossroads
And don’t know which path to choose
Let me come along
’cause even if you’re wrong
I’ll stand by you” – I wanted to be there for her. She was so lost. And so was I. But she pushed me away. Angry and ashamed. She felt that I would never trust her again. She felt she could never trust herself to make good decisions again.

“And when…
When the night falls on you, baby
You’re feeling all alone
You won’t be on your own” – I wanted to be there for her. I wish I had been there for Phil. He was such a bright, amazing young man. He treated my daughter like she was a princess. He was funny and smart and kind. So gentle with her little brothers, setting up train tracks, admiring their pictures that they drew. How could I have not seen it? Or even suspected? I used to teach teenagers. I know what to look for. I was completely in the dark. And my daughter was shouldering this burden all on her own.

“I’ll stand by you
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I’ll never desert you
I’ll stand by you” – She has worked through much of the pain. It still hurts. But it’s getting better. She talks to me more. She’s even made a major shift with friends and who she spends her time with most. She was tested recently with a friend going in the same direction as Phil. When I asked what was going on she said, “I have to worry about me. They have to want to quit. I can’t do that for them. So we don’t hang out anymore.” Such a hard lesson for her to have to learn. Such a horrible way to have to learn it.

“I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you” – I hope she knows that no matter what she’s dealing with I’m here for her. There’s nothing she can do or say that will ever push me away. Nothing. Ever. She’s my sweet, adorable angel. Forever my daughter. Forever the light of my life. I want to protect her. I never want her to hurt that way ever again. But if she does, I’m here to hold her, share in the tears and boost her up when she needs strength.

(Educate yourself. I had no idea this new favorite drug among teens was so highly addictive. And so easy to obtain. Nor did I know that withdrawal should only be done under medical supervision. If you have teens or pre-teens in your home and your school offers drug education seminars for parents, GO! Even if you think your children are immune to such temptations. You may learn valuable information that could save one of their friends.)


Filed under Lessons Learned, Problems

39 responses to “I’ll Stand By You

  1. So sorry to hear bout your daughter’s loss – at that age, she must be going through so many emotions – thank you for sharing this important subject with us that affects all families…

  2. Steven Harris

    Phil’s passing was a tragedy but not anybody’s fault. It is always hard, however, when someone dies so suddenly, not to turn it over and over in your head and wonder if there was anything you could have done differently to save them. But we can’t live on ‘what if’ we can only try to learn how to cope with the grief and powerful emotions such events bring into our lives. Your daughter is lucky to have such an understanding and caring mum.

    • Thank you, Steven, for the reminder. She has felt tremendous guilt, believing it was HER fault that he died. And I’ve had such regret because I didn’t see any signs, that I wasn’t able to stop it somehow. This experience has made me so acutely aware of how no one is immune to tragedy.

      • Steven Harris

        Fifteen years ago someone in my life died and I was not the only one who spent weeks, months, even years wondering if it was something we could have prevented. Eventually all you can do is accept that the tragedy has happened and no amount of self-recrimination can change that. Sudden death leaves so many unanswerable questions but it does not make those who are left behind responsible for what happened.

  3. Oh Jane! {{{{hugs}}}} I am so sorry to hear that this has been what she is going through, and you too. Thank you yes for sharing this. It’s getting more and more terrifying as they grow older. But hearing that your daughter has grown even stronger because of this gives me hope. Whatever you have done, you are doing a great job raising a confident and intelligent human being. No more to add here. Sending her lots of best wishes and moral support as she continues on the road of personhood.

  4. suzicate

    Hugs. My heart is breaking for both of you. What a tragic loss at such a young age. She is fortunate to have a wonderful and supportive mother to help her through.

  5. I hope she still doesn’t blame herself. That’s a hard experience to go through, especially when one is so young and not hardened to the realities of life. This made me weep, literally, for everyone involved. He had to go through this alone, so did your daughter, and I can’t imagine how painful it must be to watch your baby girl in such pain.

  6. ck

    your words are so powerful.

    your daughter is blessed to have you in her life. giving her what she needs, even when that need is space.

    i hope i can be that kind of mom – the YOU kind – when my daughters get older.

  7. angelcel

    Tragic loss of a young life. I’m so sorry for everyone involved.

  8. That is such a terrible experience for your daughter to go through at a tender age. But it sounds like she’s gained valuable wisdom from it.

    I had no idea Oxycontin was so easy to obtain. I need to learn more about that. I was on Opana (synthetic opium) for a year before my back surgery. My husband and I gave the boys a long lecture about prescription drugs when I brought my first script home. I was actually required by law to carry it on my person at all times.

    • My daughter’s boyfriend got it from a neighbor that was selling his own prescription to kids in the neighborhood. And kids seem to think that because prescription drugs are “approved” by doctors that they are somehow safer than illegal drugs. Scary times.

  9. Mel

    Jane, so sad for your daughter and you. It’s tragic. My sister lost her best friend in a drug/alcohol related accident in high school and it changed her, almost broke her, but she came out the other side OK, with time. I knew about rampant Oxy abuse, but not the withdrawal dangers. Your daughter is very strong and wise, knowing she can only save herself. Hopefully the bond between you is stronger now. I want to think that my kids will come to me with their problems before they escalate, but I’m seeing how teenagers compartmentalize their lives and already keep so much hidden. My son tells me all the time that my preconceived notion of who’s good and bad is all wrong – the kids that look like trouble aren’t and the honor roll athlete cliques are rife with druggies. He thinks I am clueless, but I grew up in the late 60’s early 70’s, I know more than I’ll ever tell him. I’m hoping we stay lucky here. Hope your daughter can forgive herself or better, realize she is not to blame in the first place. Hoping for healing for her, and hope she knows how awesome her mom is!

  10. I think I’ve told you that my sister is an addict. I haven’t seen her in over ten years, because I refused to even bear witness to any more of her garbage. Your daughter is right–they have to want it for themselves and do the hard work.

    I’m so sorry she had to learn about the ugly side of addiction so young.

    And I’m proud of her for allowing herself to begin to open and let you share some of her burden. That’s a lot for 17 year-old shoulders to carry alone.

  11. Oh Jane, what a terrifying situation for your daughter and your family to have to live through! From what you have written about her here, she sounds like a strong, wise young woman, but nobody should have to deal with such an unthinkable tragedy, especially at such a tender age. How lucky she is to have such a wonderful mother to stand by her. Sending love to both of you.

  12. Jane, my heart goes out to you and your daughter. My #2’s best friend in college died suddenly. We never heard the whole story entirely. He was from Japan and his family chose not to disclose the cause of death, but, my daughter was the one responsible for finding him. She had tried for 4 days to get in touch with him and the university and apartment complex refused to let her in the apartment until she threatened to “break in” they complex manager finally relented and found him. He had been dead for 4 days and she has lived with that guilt for several years now. The “what if”s”. What if I had insisted? Maybe I could have saved him. I drove up 12 hours to pick her up at school because she was such a wreck emotionally and mentally that she couldn’t function. Please make sure she gets any help she needs to deal with this. It can be devastating to the survivors.

  13. unabridgedgirl

    I am so sorry to hear that your sweet daughter went through such a terrible experience! I am glad to hear, though, that she is pulling through.

    This post made me cry. It hit close to home. It’s never easy to deal with someone you love that has a drug addiction.

  14. This is such a tough and powerful lesson for your daughter to be learning at this age. And “lesson” sounds like such a horrible word for it. It’s not a lesson. It’s crap. Crap that she should have to go through this. Crap that you can’t shield her from it, and protect her. Crap that she feels pain and loss and struggle and heartache. It’s the stuff of life, isn’t it? And doesn’t “life” just come a bit too early for some?

    I can from this one post that she will come out of this period of her life stronger. That yeah, she will have learned something. But lesson? Nah. That’s not the right word. It’s an event, a moment, in her life that she will learn from, that she will carry with her, that will remind her what matters, how to be cautious, and how to forge on.

    Many hugs to you and your baby girl. For, however old she grows, I’m sure she’ll always be your baby.

  15. jen

    Thank you for sharing this sad, sad story. It’s important that more of us are educated–about this issue that none of us want to be educated on.

  16. What a touch thing to experience. So sad.

  17. I’m so incredibly sorry. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for your daughter to deal with this death. Of course, I’m sure she rationally knew that she was always trying to help him, but of course the rational mind and guilt feelings often don’t have much to do with each other.

  18. I can’t imagine how painful it must be to see your child go through mourning.

    I’m not a parent myself, but a child my parents were there for me no matter what happened, much like you are there for your daughter right now.

    Be proud, it sounds like you’re a great parent.

    It also shows the reciliance of children that the majority of them can still grow up normal in world where so much can go wrong.

  19. Thanks for helping to get the word out. As an RN I have dealt with withdrawl symptoms of patients many times. Quiting drug use is not something that should ever be done alone or at home. Often times the withdrawl is as dangerous as the consumtion. More people need to know about this so that this does not happen to other kids. Thanks.

  20. Oh, Jane! I can’t help but think of the Serenity Prayer, which would have been such a comfort to Phil if he had lived to see the other side of addiction. We rely on it in our family as we cope with relatives still searching for the way through. May God/the fates grant your daughter peace.

  21. Oh my… my heart is breaking for all involved, especially your daughter. I cannot even fathom going through that at such a young age. Thank you for putting this out there.

  22. This post gave me goosebumps. I’m so sorry your daughter went through that. She did do the right thing by putting her foot down. There’s no way she could have known what would happen. My heart goes out to her, you, and Phil’s family. I’m so sorry.. 😦

  23. *hugs* I’m so sorry your daughter has to deal with this. She’s lucky to have you as a mother.

  24. Wow. {{{{hugs}}}} to you and your daughter. The burden she carried must have been heavy. Must STILL be heavy.

    As for education–no child is immune from the temptation of drugs. Life is hard. High school is hard. The teenage years are full of angst. Parents NEED to be educated. Ignorance IS NOT bliss. My husband was addicted to drugs for most of his high school years. It wasn’t until he reached adulthood that he realized the path his drugs were taking him down. He got out before he became too entrenched. His friends are a different story. It is so sad to see what they are doing with their lives.

  25. Thinking of your daughter, Jane, and you in these complicated, unrelenting times. Loss is hard enough without guilt. Thanks for writing about this and posting the link. I’m as much in the dark about these drugs and their withdrawal symptoms as Phil’s parents were (from what you’ve said here). It’s good to get the word out.

  26. Charlotte

    What a sad experience. I’m so sorry for your daughter and her boyfriend’s family. My husband lost his best friend when he was 17 and it is a life changing thing.

    Thanks for the information. I was also unaware, but will educate myself.

  27. Wow. It’s so horrible that you and your daughter (your whole family) had to deal with this. I can’t begin to imagine how you help a daughter cope with this, or how you cope with it yourself. And the poor boy, who had his whole life ahead of him. Thanks for sharing. I do think that putting this out there will make people aware–it is brave of you to do so.

  28. amberlife

    This is such a sad tale. As a mother of a 17 year old boy, drugs are the one thing that frightens the life out of me. I have done all the usual lectures and talks but have come to the conclusion that as he is now a young adult that is really all I can do. After that he has to make his own decisions. best wishes to you and your family. x

  29. Thank you for the information. Ths truly is a scary world we live in. I’ve never taken drugs or been exposed to them. Nowadays they are everywhere and I do worry about my 15 year old.

  30. Found you – and this post, which hit home – through Motherese. My cousin, more like a brother to me, died several years ago because of his addiction to Oxycontin. He’d had a dangerous overdose before, which left him alive but fragile – more than a year later, he slipped up and never woke up. He was an only child, and of course the only Him. We all miss him terribly. If anything good can come out of tragedies like these, it will be that we all become more informed about the prevalence and lethal dangers of these drugs and their availability. Thank you for sharing this story of loss. My heart goes out to your family and to his.

  31. What an immensely sad thing you all have been going through. Heart wrenching. And yet you have written about it beautifuly using those Pretender lyrics. That is the power of music, isn’t it?

    As I read this I remembered my 17 year-old self and all the pain that comes with growing up. But I still, to this day, have yet to be faced with the death of someone so close to me.

    Have you shared this post with her? I just kept thinking while I read, “her daughter must read this. She should read this”. Or maybe just these song lyrics along with some words from you. For all I know you have had a hundred conversations about this. I don’t think at that age my Mom could have gotten through to me without words on paper.

    Many, many hugs to you, Jane. By this post alone I can see you are an incredible mother, sensitive to your children’s, and your own, needs.

  32. I am so very, very touched at this outpouring of kind words. Your support means the world to me. It truly, truly does. But calling me an amazing mom or incredible mother? I’m uncomfortable with that. Because I believe I have done and continue to do what ANY one of YOU would have done in the same circumstances. A mom at the funeral told me she admired my strength and I all but laughed out loud. Strength? I’m just trying to make it through the next minute and then the next one, etc. And me, strong? – as I looked over at the parents that lost their precious child. THAT is strength. Looking back over these past few months I realize we do what we can. May none of you ever have to deal with this kind of tragedy with your own children. But if you do, YOU will get through it. You can turn it into the teaching moment that it is. And you can be stronger for it.

  33. Oh Jane. I am so sorry that your daughter – and you – had to go through all of this. I can’t even imagine how I would have processed this at age 17. I can’t even imagine how I would process this now. I hope you continue to lean on each other. Now. Always.

  34. I adore the Pretenders – and that song fitted so poignantly well! What a sad sad story – his poor parents – and your poor daughter. Having lost my sister through suicide, I advise your daughter to consider going to see a counsellor or similar professional at some point. Although it’s completely different circumstances – the guilt, the grief, the acceptance, the anger, the fear, the blame, the denial, the emptiness, the effect and the loss are the same. Nearly 20 years on, it still has an effect on my life. And even though I’ve learned to live with it, and I do the majority of the time, I’ve never fully come to terms with it – and suddenly I fall back in time! She sounds a wise and strong young woman – with a wonderful family around her so with time she’ll get through it – we have to don’t we. Sending you big hugs too. Houdini x

  35. What a terrible thing for everyone to have to go through. Thank you for the information…I had no idea. Thinking of you all.

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