By Angie levasseur
It was Sunday April 29, 2018. It was still only 10 a.m and I got a phone call from my husband that’d change my life for all time.
He said to come over NOW.
We only live a 3 minute drive apart and I knew something was wrong. Instead of asking questions on the phone, I knew that I could arrive there quicker than talking about it on the phone. I knew something was wrong, and his voice was upset, but I had no idea that in 3 minutes my life would change forever.
I prayed OUT LOUD during that short drive. “Please God, Please God, let Zac be ok”. You see, my son had been suffering from mental health issues since probably even before his early teens. He was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, and depression.
He had huge meltdowns that were very difficult to deal with. His anxiety caused him enormous stress and the meltdowns were awful. We had been through a lengthy program at BC Children’s hospital in his teen years that gave him some invaluable tools that helped him greatly through his years. He was totally afraid of medications and finally consented to anti depressant meds but that sure took some convincing. Drugs were something he was terrified of. ….. until he discovered that drugs could make him feel better. It started with Xanax, a benzodiazepine that he had read on and was terrified that the docs would try to prescribe that for him. Years later, he started self medicating with it himself.
So that morning, I drove 3 minutes praying. In my mind, I was thinking I was going to go and help him with a meltdown or panic attack. And that alone was stressful enough.
As soon as I drove into the townhouse complex, I saw flashing lights from ambulance, firetrucks, police cars and my arms flew up in midair as I was still driving and I just screamed. I saw my daughter and her dad outside crying and I knew. I just knew.
I didn’t even park, I just ran out of my vehicle towards them screaming. They were hanging onto each other and came running towards me and I just kept doubling over and collapsing as they said, “Zac’s gone”.
They were hanging onto each other and me and I had to shove them away at one point as I doubled over because it felt like my insides were exploding and I had to vomit. My brain hurt so badly I felt like my head was going to explode as well. I just bellowed loudly over and over again, not even comprehending it all. Part of me inside shut off but I just kept screaming. It’s hard to explain. It was a scene of a nightmare.
When the emergency people left, there were still several police that stayed behind and they wouldn’t let me go upstairs. We had to wait for the coroner to come and do his investigation. I kept saying over and over “I want to see my boy.” They kept advising me it wasn’t a good idea but I was adamant. There was no way he was leaving that house without me giving him a hug and a kiss.
In the meantime while the coroner was there,, Steve and I drove to my place to get our other son (19 years old) as he was sleeping after a nightshift to tell him his precious brother had died. Steve told him the news and Nakiah was just numb. I think he’s still in shock to this day.
We went back to Steve’s. I don’t even know how long it took for the coroner to do what he does. Time had no concept. But our other kids didn’t want to see Zac so their Dad drove them back home to my place.
They brought my beautiful son down on a stretcher and let us have some time with him. He was so cold. So cold. And blue. But yet still so beautiful and I just kept hugging and kissing him and telling him I love him. And to go with Jesus. I absolutely howled in agony.
The next couple of weeks I was just either numb with grief or absolutely consumed in agony. I don’t even know how some people can plan a funeral-memorial during those times. For me, it seemed like I would never be able to orchestrate or plan anything. But with the help of our wonderful pastor and church and family, we gave our precious son a beautiful send off. Again, when I held him in that box, after the service, and hugged and kissed him again and again and again, I was so torn with grief, I wished I could have crawled in there with him.
Zac went through rehab the summer of 2017 at Hope For Freedom. He surrendered his life to Jesus and got baptized. When he felt strong enough, and wanted to leave, we begged and pleaded for him to stay longer. But as most of you know, that begging and pleading doesn’t help. He felt he was strong enough to go. It wasn’t long after he started using again. We tried so very hard to encourage him in going back for help. He was working full time and was planning on going for counselling again. But he didn’t even get to that. It all happened so fast.
The coroner told Steve it was a “recreational dose” of fentanyl. No biggie. But it took my beautiful son’s last breath. There is no such thing as a “recreational dose”. Yes, my son died from fentanyl. But what brought him to that point was mental health issues. That’s what killed him.
I just wish someone can be helped by our pain. Our grief and our sorrow is life long now. Please, please, please, if you have an addiction … get help. PLEASE don’t do this to your family. So often my brain just screams WHY? WHY ZAC WHY?
Like everyone else, this was a story I never thought I would write. Like everyone else, we were worried, but until it happened we couldn’t comprehend it happening to us.
His dad heard him in his room at 10 pm that night so he died shortly after. When Steve found him the next morning, there were still two lines of the drug on the tray and it looked like he died almost instantly after the first line up his nose. When Dad found him, he was cold, but Dad in his panic kept trying to find a warm spot on his body in desperation and hope. My beautiful son died all alone with family in the house. How sad that is.
Our beautiful boy. Our beautiful brother. 23 years old. Never to reach 24. Oh my gosh it hurts.
I’m so grateful for the friends I have met that have gone through this journey before me. They are so kind and so helpful. There are a lot of people out there supporting us who have gone through this. If anyone ever needs love or support, please contact me or us. I’m still very new at this grief but there are lots of others who have prepared the way for us and I am so grateful for each and every one of them. Sending love to all humanity. This world can be so sad. But there is still so much goodness left. And we need to be part of that goodness and love. As I have always said. “We are all in this life together, so let’s just make the best of it”.
We will mourn our son and brother to our dying day. 23 wonderful years together. Go in peace my beautiful boy. Go with Jesus. We love you beyond words. xoxo
Editor’s Note: I hope this helps others. Angie is a Facebook friend. I had seen her sorrow-filled posts and felt her pain. She was invited to write this piece for www.vancouverite.com. Thank you Angie.
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I feel like I’m dying in this grief. I don’t wish this on anyone. It’s just heartbreaking. If you have an addiction, please please please don’t do this to the people who love you. My son never thought it would happen to him. And you probably think the same. But it does. Just know it does. There are many good places to go . Just get to one. My son wanted no faith based or 12 step recovery, but when we entered the doors of Hope for Freedom, he felt so good and said “I feel good here”. We were going to check out another place, but he felt this place was where he belonged. And he did. Until he left. And that’s what happens. Wishing anyone going through this, an addicted person, or family, much encouragement. There is help out there. xoxo
I don’t know if it was my mistake, or not, just wanted to clarify it is my ex husband to avoid confusion. We are on very good terms and tried our very best to support our kids and co-parent together.
I can relate to so many of your feelings/emotions. I lost my grandson to fentanyl poisoning in February of this year. He was 20. I’m so very sorry for your and your family’s loss. Thank you for sharing your story.
My boys (4 and 6 years old) lost their dad to opiats addiction just before Christmas. For me, I had lost him years ago to it but still to this day am mourning him. The loss of a man who thought me so much, the loss of a man I ounce loved, the loss of the father of my boys, the loss of my “go to” whenever I had concerns about our boys or of any kind, the loss of a long time friend and all that times 3 cause our kids pain is hurting us to unmeasurable extents..Opiats are Horrible. All drugs are and they are tearing millions of families apart.. It needs to change some way,some how..but how?? Where does it end?? 😔
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