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Monday, November 23, 2020

Dear Mom and Dad, …A Letter That Touched Souls

Every once in a while, I find a writing, something other than a song to hand out as part of my 'song sheet' collection.  The following letter which was written by Lorelie Rozzano[1] is one such example.  But before you read the letter itself, allow me to set the scene...

With the trunk lid open as I sat on the back bumper of my aging Nissan Altima at the intersection of Kensington and Somerset (Click on the link in the footnote to see the exact location in Google Maps[2]), a man, a bit older than most addicted patients of Substance Use Disorder who live in Kensington rode up to me on his old Schwinn Bike.  He asked for my usual stuff: bananas, water, and a song sheet.  I told him that along with my typical song sheet, I had a second handout, a letter written to Mom and Dad from the perspective of a person who did not survive an overdose.  He accepted it and began to read right then and there.  Tears started to flow from this man.  He stopped reading wiped his eyes and cheeks as he said he would need to finish the rest when he got home because he didn't want to be crying out in the street.

An hour or so later, a woman accepted the letter, saw "Dear Mom and Dad," at the top, and started to shake with whatever emotion was trying to break free from within her soul.  "I'll definitely read this later." She told me. 

Another hour passed.  By now I was outside Prevention Point.  She called out to me.  "Banana Man!"[3]  I turned around and found her sitting on the step right here (Follow the link in this footnote.[4]), noticeably emotional over what she was reading.  "I don't recall her exact words but I know that her heart was being touched in some way specific to her life journey.

In all, I handed out about forty of these letters.  If such a letter touches the soul of any person trapped in addiction and homelessness and inspires them to consider a new path, so be it.  We cannot force anyone to stop using their substances.  That decision must come from them when they are ready.  We can touch souls and in so doing connect to the healing that is silently begging to burst forth and begin the process of creating a new life.

Here's the letter:

Dear Mom and Dad,

Words can’t begin to describe how sorry I am.  I’ve put you in a position that no parent should ever face.  I left – before you.  It wasn’t supposed to be this way.  The natural order of things was skewed by my addiction.  I can only imagine the agony you must be in.  I know you’re angry, enraged, and sad, all at the same time.  If only you could reach back in time and pluck me from the path I’d chosen, but you can’t.  You never could.  God knows, you tried.  I wasn’t completely oblivious, to all that was being done for me.  I always believed I had time and the truth is – I was too dammed smart for my own good.

I underestimated the power of my disease.

I know you tried to tell me this.  But I wouldn’t listen.  After I began using drugs I became desensitized.  I thought I was immortal.  I liked living on the edge.  I felt so alive!  Drugs filled a place in me that nothing else could.  With them I was King.  Without them, I was just, well, me.

Maybe that was part of the problem.

I never did feel right, about being me.  I always needed something more.  At first, it was candy, and then video games and eventually, teenage love.  I idolized money.  I felt entitled to nice clothes and nice things.  I wanted the best.  I hated waiting for anything.  When I wanted something, it was all I could think about – until I got it, and then, I wanted something else.  There were times I felt guilty for the stress I created in our family.  But it was fleeting.  The burning need inside of me was stronger than anything else.  This need had no conscience, integrity, or morals.

This need – was my addiction.

I know I hurt you.  I rejected your love.  I rolled my eyes at you.  I called you names.  I stole from you.  I lied to you.  I avoided you and finally, I left you – for good.

I was so smug.

There wasn’t anything you could have said, or done, to prevent this from happening.  I thought I knew it all.  Death by overdose was something that happened to other people: Foolish people – people who didn’t know shit about using.  It wasn’t going to happen to me, no way, no how, not ever.

You begged me to stop.  I tuned you out.  Your words were like angry wasps in my ears.  Although they stung, they were nothing more than an annoying buzz.  When you cried, I cringed.  When you put your arms around me.  I wanted, away from you.    And now – I want back.

But there is no back. There is only forward.

Please bring me forward.  Tell my story.  Say my name.  Have conversations with me.  Include me in your celebrations.  Rejoice in the time we had together.  Cry, if you must, but not all the time.  I know you’re sad.  I know you miss me.  I know you love me.  I know you did your best.  But you were never stronger than the disease of addiction, and sadly, neither was I.

Please don’t blame yourself, or me.  It will only make things worse.  We all did the best we could.  You must believe this.  If you don’t, it will be like me dying all over again, each and every, day.  We will all stay stuck and that would be a tragedy.

I hope you take all the love you have for me, and put it into the rest of our family.  Every time you want to hug me, grab one of them.  Then it will be like I’m part of the hug.  Give them a great big squeeze and I promise, I’ll feel it, all the way up in heaven.

May you find peace in knowing I’m free, in a way, I never before was.  Up here, there is no addiction. There is only love, the kind of love that is greater than any of us will ever know, below.

You might tell yourself that I am gone. But you’re wrong. I’m right here.  I’m the wind on your face, and the stars in the sky.  I’m the raindrops, falling, outside your window.  I’m the song of a bird and the dawn of each new morning. I’m the rustle of a leaf. I’m the clouds and the sun, and the waves in the ocean.

We will never be truly be parted from one another.  For love breathes life, even, in death.

I am the flesh of your flesh.  Standstill – and you will feel me.

Love, Your Child This Day and Always...


Adapted from a writing by Lorelie Rozzano

[1] and adapted by me only to take out the male gender-specific pronouns and references and therefore make it apply to everyone. 

[3] For those who don't know, I've been handing out bananas as I do what I do in Kensington.  Soft fruit was requested by these wonderful people four years ago when I started doing this.  I kept bringing bananas with every visit.  One day, a man on the street called out "Here comes "Banana Man!"  The name stuck…  J

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