The bright and beautiful light that was my son Christopher

by Lisa O'Hara
(Attleboro, MA-USA)

Christopher's light faded and left us on September 5th, 2010. Christopher was (and I like to believe still is) a gift directly from the divine. He was 27 years old when he fell asleep and never woke again.

Chris entered the Navy on September 16, 2001. It was the year he graduated and the year of the twin towers tragedy. Three weeks into basic, he was found to have a bone spur on his ankle from an old fracture. The navy felt it was an undisclosed condition, and he was medically discharged, but welcome to return if he had surgery to fix the problem.

In the short time he was away, his long-time girlfriend cheated on him with one of his good friends. He also felt people were judging him and gossiping over his discharge from the Navy. He even carried his discharge papers with him to prove it was an Honorable discharge to show any disbelievers. He was traumatized by these events. He was the popular guy in high school. The Captain of the football team, tons of friends, a beautiful girlfriend and a dream to become a Navy Seal.

All of this crashed when he returned home. He was a different person-anxious and depressed. He struggled very hard to get his footing back, but started to rely on alcohol to dim his pain. Chris tried other drugs as well.

Over the next nine years, he had ups and downs, and worked on getting his bachelors degree which he received in May 2009. Looking for a job was hard. He got worse with his drinking and drug use, and isolated himself often in his room. We spent so much time talking and trying to break through his troubles. Finally, in April, 2010 he entered rehab for 60 days. He did great, and wanted to stay in Oregon where he had been treated.

Unfortunately, his demons found him again, and he gave in to them. He died on his girlfriends couch, and she found him in the morning. He had gotten a Fentanyl patch from someone, put in on, and had settled in to watch a movie, while taking his anxiety meds, hoping to get some sleep which often eluded him. The combination proved fatal.

We are now left with the emptiness of the space he occupied in our lives. Our love for him cannot be measured, and the loss of his presence is sharp and penetrating to our souls. We have a beautiful daughter who we love just as much, and she is the only reason my husband and I continue to breathe. I hate using the words "died" or "passed away" when speaking of him. I don't want to be in this group of grieving parents. It's not what was supposed to happen to any of us.

I am thankful for those of you who know my pain, and I hope that you are comforted in some way by my son's story. His story is so much more, and I cling to the hope of holding him again in the afterlife. When that happens, this time I won't let go.

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