THANK YOU CARD

If you had told me the day I snuck in that window that I would own a blog with traffic, would be working with a radio station and three of the coolest guys in the recovery community, I wouldn’t have believed you.

The past year of my life has been one crazy ride. I gave up drugs and picked up a mission. The day I typed addiction into the search bar on Facebook, I was shocked. I was an active regular social Facebook user, and I had no idea that this world, our world, even existed. You would think I would have run into a meme or something, but no, nothing.

 

People don’t realize it, but the addiction/recovery community works hard.  I got to thinking today about how I could measure success with the work I do.  Up until three weeks ago all I did was write in my blogs and spread awareness through posters/memes and news stories on social media. So how do you measure success with something so difficult to measure?

IF I HELP ONE PERSON, IT WILL BE WORTH IT.  We have probably all said, thought or at the very least heard this in our community.  So I have good news for you all.  Here goes:

Entering this community  I was in on Suboxone but wasn’t working a program, and my life sucked.  Just like an addict, I didn’t go through the front door of this community, I snuck around back and climbed in the window.  My road to recovery was Suboxone, period point blank ( suboxone saved my life, and this is just my story I believe whatever works- work it) I didn’t need a sponsor, meetings, a higher power or any of that, just Suboxone.  I was adamant about it.  After relapsing too many times to count in the past 20 years, I figured Suboxone was the best route for me.

I went to war with my family and my doctor over staying on Suboxone and being accepted for it.  So if I knew anything at all entering this community it was that I was an addict and I would be on Suboxone for the rest of my life.  I was 43.

If you had told me the day I snuck in that window that I would own a blog with traffic, would be working with a radio station and three of the coolest guys in the recovery community, I wouldn’t have believed you.

The past year of my life has been one crazy ride.  I gave up drugs and picked up a mission. The day I typed addiction into the search bar on Facebook, I was shocked.  I was an active regular social Facebook user, and I had no idea that this world, our world, even existed.  You would think I would have run into a meme or something, but no, nothing.

Within one year this community has turned my life around.  You gave me the strength to give up the Suboxone.  I learned that I am a whole lot tougher than I thought I was.  I found skills that I didn’t know I had and self-worth that I never had.  I have a resume that doesn’t have one single lie on it, and it still looks impressive.  I sold a business and opened three more.  I got two incredible opportunities to continue doing awareness work, but now I can eat too.

Now my friends are writers, artists, lawyers ( that I didn’t have to hire ) paralegals, and so much more.  You’ve taken the time to teach me and to build me up.  In this past year, you have given me life-enriching skills, relationships, experiences and even things to look forward to.

So I wanted to give you guys this Chrismas gift early.  Once I figured out the amazing gift that you guys gave me this year.  I couldn’t wait to give yours to you.

Thank you, for saving ME.

 

Newall: Twitter’s ‘bro dude’ becomes another heroin casualty

0ofrpnal

Annie and Bob Reynolds are seen next to a family photo of them and their children Tom and Molly took a year earlier in the same spot in the backyard of their Flourtown home. Tom, 27, died from a heroin overdose in September.

Her thoughts have been so jumbled since Tom died. So shaky. It’s the little things that give her the most trouble. Like earlier Thursday at the Flourtown Farmers Market. She needed sandwiches for the guests that would be attending her son’s memorial Sunday. But at the counter, her mind went blank.

“I need help,” Annie Reynolds told the clerk. “I can’t even think straight.”

She is angry. She knows it’s irrational, but she’s angry at Tom. She’s angry that she and Bob couldn’t save him. She’s angry at the dealer who sold him the heroin, whoever that might be.

She’s angry about what Tom had told her that Sunday before he died. That he often had heroin delivered to his apartment, right there across from Bredenbeck’s Bakery in Chestnut Hill. That he could just call. It was that easy.

She sat down Thursday at her dining room table filled with photos and condolence cards. It had been nearly six weeks since Tom died from a heroin overdose in the bathroom of the Trolley Car Diner on Germantown Avenue. He was 27.

Annie Reynolds had wanted to talk to me about her son. Then, she didn’t. Then, she woke up one-morning last week feeling she had to talk about his death for what it was: another casualty of heroin’s insidious reach. Maybe that could bring some small dose of healing. Help her think straight. Help some other family.

“It’s not out there anymore,” she said of the heroin and opioid crisis tearing away at the small towns and suburbs across the nation. “It’s here and it has hit us really hard. By ‘us,’ I mean the community.”

Tom was the second member of the 2008 graduating class of Springfield Township High lost in the last 14 months from an overdose. A classmate died last summer. Fentanyl-laced heroin, same as Tom. Annie and the man’s mother now talk – about the four more young people they know from that class battling heroin. A girl in town who was the same age as their sons and recently Oded.

Annie, a retired Catholic school librarian, picked up a stack of photos from the table. “Scanned and ordered,” read a post-it. Molly Reynolds, who is 25, had meticulously organized the photos for a video for her older brother’s memorial.

“No one could make her laugh like him,” Annie said, showing a photo of Molly near tears from one of Tom’s jokes. He made so many laughs.

It was only weeks before Tom’s death that Annie learned about Tom’s devout Twitter audience of nearly 8,000 followers. Bob had tried to keep it from her; it could get raunchy.

A lot has been written about Tom’s Twitter account, @tombrodude. It was delightfully weird and absurdist, sometimes cutting and very often very raw. It was undeniably hilarious. Much of it was far better suited for Twitter than a Sunday newspaper, but it was undercut with sincerity and sweetness and vulnerability.

(“You know what today is. that’s right its Monday baby!,” his final tweet read, written hours before his death, on a Saturday. “let’s get out there and work our hardest and the weekend will be here before we know it.”)

He tweeted about his addiction. His openness made a lot of people who never met him love him. Now they mourn him. A “Tom Bro Dude Memorial Twitter Meet-Up” is scheduled for Saturday at Lucky Strike in Center City.

Those parallel rails of grief – between those who knew him in person and those who knew him online – shows how it is with heroin now. It could be the guy you love on Twitter. The guy who lives above a bakery and makes his sister laugh, who was raking leaves with his father at his church the day he died.

After leaving his father, he met a dealer near the World War I Memorial on Mermaid Lane. Tom rode his bike the few blocks to the Trolley Car and walked the winding hallway to the bathroom, past the old-timey trolley photos and the Cat on the Tin Roof poster to a corner stall. His heart gave out. A cook found him.

At the table Thursday, Annie’s braced herself for her son’s memorial. For what she might say. Maybe a Shel Silverstein poem, she said. Something funny and pithy and intelligent. Like, Tom.

Then, she went back to preparing for the guests who were coming to help her bury her son. Tried to make her way through the little things.

The Lamb’s Fold

At nineteen I found out the I was pregnant by my long-term boyfriend.  This was twenty three years ago.  It shouldn’t have mattered that my boyfriend was black, but it did.  My parents tried to understand and if we would have been healthy at all things might have been different.  He was abusive and I was in love.

I don’t remember how my mother found out I was pregnant but she told me that I needed to have an abortion.  See, I had given a child up for adoption at sixteen, so just three years before.  It rocked the entire family and my mom wanted this to go away.  There was an appointment made at an abortion center and she took my latest paycheck and put it in her purse to go toward the fee for the abortion.  There was no way I could do it so I took the paycheck out of her purse and left.

My mother was beyond angry with me.  Let’s face it I was no peach to deal with and she was remarried to a man from a very conservative family.  They didn’t date out of their race and girls did what they were told….if not they didn’t get caught.  That was a skill I never acquired. I always got caught.

The father of my child drove me down to Kentucky to stay with my dad.  When we arrived we found that I wasn’t welcome in Kentucky either.  I bounced from house to house for a week or two and then he came back and got me.  I spent a couple of weeks sleeping in my car.  Sometimes he would stay with me but I was alone most of the time.  Eventually his mom allowed me to spend the night at her house.  She told me that I needed to find somewhere to go.  She suggested that I go to a homeless shelter.  This thought was so scary but I had to find a place to stay.  I was about four months along and I really felt the clock ticking.

One morning I opened the phone book and looked for shelters for women.  I was from Woodridge, Il a very nice suburb one minute and now I was looking for any place that would take me.   I called several places, and the people were anything but welcoming.  I didn’t think I would ever find a place to go.  Then I called The Lambs Fold.  The lady that answered the phone had a very warm and kind voice.  She had a thick Jamaican accent and told me that I absolutely should come and be assessed to stay there.

I couldn’t believe my luck.  She told me that this shelter was for ladies in exactly my situation.  The house was located in Joliet Il.  I hadn’t even heard of this area but it was only about 45 minutes away.  As soon as my boyfriend came by his mother’s house I had him take out to the shelter.  I was so scared.  I didn’t want to leave him and wanted desperately for everyone to be excited that my baby was coming.

It was late when we arrived.  The house was dark.  I rang the doorbell and a tiny little lady answered the door.  It was the kind woman who I spoke to on the phone.  She ushered us in and had me fill out some forms.  She needed to find out why I needed help and so I told her.  I was ashamed that I was in this situation. The father of my child is standing right beside me while I explain that I have nowhere to go.  He wasn’t going to do anything to help me.  He was probably happy to get me out of his hair.  We were so young and he was far from ready to be a father.

I want to say her name was Tiffany or something but I don’t remember even though I can picture her face as though she were standing in front of me now.  She took me to my room and I was pleased to find that there were only six women at the house at any one time.  That is all it could hold.

The Lambs Fold, took care of us.  They took me to the doctor and made sure that I ate properly.  There was a schedule that hung in the kitchen that had all of our meals planned out and who was going to cook them.  If your name was on the schedule to cook you cooked what was scheduled.  On the meal plan there was a recipe attached that we were to follow.  I hated cooking there.  See I didn’t realise it but they were teaching us how to cook.  To this day I make my chili exactly the way that little recipe card taught me.

You see the secret is that you use V8 juice instead of water.  You are getting vegetables without even knowing it.  It is so funny because see there were girls that wouldn’t eat any veggies in the house, but they sure loved that chili.  I was 19 when I was at The Lamb’s Fold and now I am 42.  I make that chili at least twice a month and my seven-year old who hates veggies eats my chili.  Thank you for that.

We had bible study once or twice a week and mind you I hadn’t ever opened a bible.  We did potluck at the church once a week, regular church on Sunday and a 12 step to Jesus one night a week at the church as well.  I was loved there and taught to love myself.  They went to doctors appointments with me and ooed and ahhed at his little heartbeat.  This is what I longed for and they gave it to me.

Since there were five other girls in the house I got to see that as bad as I thought my situation was it could be worse.  I watched as women who had, had their other kids taken from them were given the tools and support to keep their babies when they never thought it was possible.  When someone went into labor we all went to the hospital and made sure the mommy and baby were fussed over and loved.

See, when I walked into the Lamb’s Fold I was about as low as I could be.  When I left I left with my head held high and the tools to not only take care of myself, but raise one of the best people I know.

My son was the general manager of a local ice cream chain at the age of 16.  By 20 he was making 40,000 a year at Chanel.  He is currently one of 8 Chanel Certified Makeup Artists in the United States.  He is a wonderful person, who might not be here if The Lamb’s Fold didn’t exist.  My family thought if they pushed me away the pressure would get to me and I would crack and abort my baby.  The Lamb’s Fold ensured that did not happen.

When I went into labor my mother and father both came to the hospital.  There was no denying the change in me.  After my baby was born, my step dad called all of his family and friends and told them that Chris was born and he had better never hear another racist comment from anyone.

From that day forward I was no longer a little girl I was a woman.  Thank you to everyone at The Lamb’s Fold.  Every year I hang a little lamb on my christmas tree and tell a little story about the people who saved me and my child.