A few years ago, I met an amazing woman in rural Indiana. She immediately stole my heart, while we bonded over loss of loved ones and finding strength in the little things in life. It is incredible how these bonds continue to exist even though you have not seen each other in quite some time, you know there is always someone out there who understands. When I started STRONGER BY SHARING, I asked her to share her story – the one she shared with me – with the world. And she did. Here is her story.
LOSS OF LOVED ONES
Jason was 27 years, 3 months and 11 days old. We had gone through a tremendous loss of loved ones on both his dad and my side of the family’s. Then his boss too, who hired him and promoted him to shift leader and who became his friend, died of cancer after only a short period time. This was heartbreaking to Jason and he became very depressed. He had lost his Nana and Papa his grandpa, two of his second uncles on his dad’s side, then my mom, my grandma, my sister on my side, and then when his boss passed away, it was the icing on the cake. He quit his job and began medicating himself with alcohol. I think he was up to about half a gallon of vodka a day. When he was 21, I knew about the drinking issues, and I gave him the choice of vodka or living with me. He chose the vodka and he moved in with his father. But he was one of the 35% of adult men who did not have the chemicals in their body to break down the alcohol. It became serious when it turned into alcohol induced hepatitis.
“I finally got through to him that he was endangering his own life,
and he finally agreed to go to the hospital to have some test run
after he saw how upset I was…”
He lived about 40 minutes away, and I went to visit him to spend the night one night and I realized that he was jaundiced. His eyes were yellow and bloodshot, his skin was yellow and I brought this up to him. He told me that he thought he had a urinary tract infection. I’ve been eating a lot of asparagus, he said, but he was going to drink a lot of cranberry juice and water. At this time, I knew he was in trouble. I finally got through to him that he was endangering his own life, and he finally agreed to go to the hospital to have some test run after he saw how upset I was. He willingly went in on October 7 and signed himself into St. Mary’s hospital for tests. Eight days later they brought him out dead. I basically got him in the hospital in time to keep his liver from bursting at home and his girlfriend finding him either in bed, in the bathroom or on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood, because when his liver burst he would have bled to death.
This happened in October 2014. This October it will be four years. It does not seem like four years have gone by, and not a day has gone by that I have not thought of him, missed him and shed a tear for him and myself. October 15, 2014. That also happened to be in his aunt Carol’s birthday who had gone before him on December 30, 2012 from lung cancer. And I told him when he got to heaven to go find his aunt and to tell her I’ve given her the best birthday present ever. And in return I got to promise to look after her son and go to his graduation party. It was not how I imagined things to be, but I accept that it is what it is even though it breaks my heart.
HEARTBREAKING & LIFE-CHANGING
I would have to describe this experience as heartbreaking, something that no matter what, nobody should ever have to go through. After losing my mother at 62 to lung cancer in 2005, then my sister at 43, at the same lung cancer, I was totally torn apart. My 95-year-old grandmother went too, six months before my sister but she was 94 and she was ready to go, she was healthy as can be up until then. But losing Jason, I would have to describe as one of the worst feelings I have ever felt. When my mom died it killed me, and then my sister hurt as bad if not worse. But I can’t even put into words the feelings of hurt and pain that went through my heart when my son passed away. It was life-changing and shocking to say the least.
The only inspiring thing that I would like to say to others is, you young people are not invincible. And it can happen to you. If there is anyway that I could use the death of my son to help another young soul in the same situation, it would make Jason’s death a death that is not in vain. Alcohol induced hepatitis is mostly found to be among young women, but it also happens to men. If you have a drink, for a young lady a shot or shot and a half of alcohol a day, and for every young man about three shots per day. Jason was drinking about half a gallon a day of vodka and it got him. Please do not turn to alcohol as a remedy or an escape from any of your depression or issues that you do not understand and that are out of your control. Be strong and try to face them with help from a therapist or family or someone else who has gone through this, because it is an awful way to die. And it is an awful thing for any parents or family members to have to witness.
Thank you for having the courage of sharing your story!
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