September marked the 10th anniversary of my son Justin’s death at age 17 from an accidental drug overdose. The medical examiner’s report months later said it was heroin that killed him. But I have to say for Justin it all began with marijuana, and I’m angrier at marijuana than I am at heroin. Here’s why.
Justin was a good student, an extremely talented musician and songwriter on the verge of completing the recording of his first original music album. On Sunday, Sept. 7, 2008, Justin spent the afternoon with people we didn’t know and came home later than expected as he readied for his first full week as a senior at Yorktown High School. He never woke up that Monday morning. Somewhere along the way that Sunday he had snorted heroin. Continue reading New York Dad says marijuana complicit in son’s heroin overdose death→
Drug Prevention Speaker Touching Hearts and Changing Lives
New York father, Jeffrey Veatch is taking the pain of loss from his son’s tragic drug overdose death, and turning it into a positive force for good. His son Justin was a talented musician with big dreams. Dreams that his father refuses to let die. Continue reading Father Spearheads Drug Awareness Campaign→
My name is Jacki Cosner and 27 months ago we lost our eldest daughter, Kayla Nicole (20), and her husband, Daniel Brian Amos (21), on Valentine’s Day. They had only been married 6 months and she posted that morning how excited she was that her “halfyearversary” would always be on this day of celebrating true love.
Dan worked at a local church as an Arts Worship Leader and had recently been ordained a minister. He played electric guitar in the church band and was living out a musical dream for his passion. Jesus Christ. Kayla recently had graduated from Liberty University with a BS in Business, Entrepreneurship. Her dream of running a coffee shop was coming to fruition thru the church as well. They were opening one in the church lobby to raise money for End Hunger, a local charity. She had been volunteering with them for some time. Dan and Kayla were rooted in their faith first and rooted in their love for Christ. That is what made them who they were and made their life extraordinary.
On February 14th, 2016 they had gone to a late lunch after church at a restaurant Dan had been wanting to try. After that they went to Kayla’s favorite shop at the mall and he bought her a beautiful red lace skirt in honor of the occasion. On the way home, not twenty minutes in, at 4:30pm, an oncoming car crossed the center line and hit them head on. The impact hard enough to lift the rear slightly causing the car behind them to go under and flip their car over. Dan passed at the scene and Kayla was life flighted to Shock Trauma. We were informed her injuries were not survivable. We kept her on life support knowing and watching as vitals slowed. At 7 a.m. on February 15, 2016, we gave her hand to Dan one last time. I’ve heard repeatedly over the past 2+ years how strong I am. My response is always the same, “I would be weak again in a heartbeat if it would mean they were still here.”
Though there are a lot of people that would probably not agree with me, I consider myself a mother who lost her children to drugs. Heroin and marijuana specifically. No, they did not use the drug and I have not gone thru the daily torment of watching them battle the addiction. However, had it not been for the decision to use this drug by another person, Kayla and Daniel would still be here. They would still be planning and living the future they only started together 6 months earlier. A life they lived with intention in everything they did.
My heart hurts for every mom watching a child suffer
In my life, I have had the trials of raising teenagers that are curious and have not always made the choice we would want. However, I have to say, we are blessed that that is all it came to be. A curiosity and lesson learned are lessons avoided. There are countless other parents who tragically cannot say the same. My heart hurts for every mom who has had to bear the burden of watching a child suffer. Its every parent’s worst fear to have their child make a horrible life altering decision that we know cannot end well. I say these things including the decisions to take that first pill, smoke that first cigarette or joint, shoot that first needle. We try so hard to teach them well and when these things come to light we wonder why and where did we go wrong? How did we fail them? The burden to keep our children safe and healthy becomes immeasurably harder and sometimes impossible.
I may not have been living it for years or dealt with it daily up to February 14,2016, but an all-night bender of a person who just wanted to get through the night, get to work, and then decided it was perfectly fine to get behind the wheel of a 5000 lb. weapon, took my daughter and son-in-law. She is here. And they are not. I fully support the idea that we must act on this war heavy and straight on. Mothers, fathers, children, sisters, brothers. All walks of life need help. We most certainly need to bring the awareness to the open. However, this is where I start to sway. I have a challenging time blaming biology or calling it a disease. I have a challenging time dismissing the whole “choice” factor. At some point a choice was made. We do not need to make those curiosities and choices easier for our young future to explore. This is how we eradicate a disease. The thought that we have started legalizing marijuana terrifies me. Just because we tell them to stay home does not guarantee anything. What next? Where will this lead?
Saying no can save the life of someone else
I feel there is a need for another perspective on the whole issue. Not one that undermines the work already done, but one that can hopefully enhance the cause and get the word to not just the families looking in the face of the addicted member, but to all the ones out there considering it. They need to learn how an innocent person can suddenly and tragically be thrown into this world in a matter of seconds. They need to understand that saying “NO” can not only save their life, but could be saving the lives of someone else. Maybe even their friend or family.
I would not wish this life on anyone–my life of grief or the driver’s life, living with that night. But I also cannot sit back and not try to help someone out there see that no one is beyond the unthinkable. No one is invincible. The driver thought they were and now is sitting wondering where their life is going to lead. Dan and Kayla Amos knew they were not invincible, but at least they knew where they were going and when they opened their eyes above, they were HOME.