By Cody's aunt, Julie
North East, PA
When Cody was born, I had never seen eyes as beautifully crystal-blue as his. And while I may be biased, Cody was just so cute. My mind goes back to that sweet little boy - the first of seven grandchildren to my parents, first born to my sister, and my first nephew.
Cody always felt more like a brother to me though. I was just a young teen when he was born and I have many cherished memories from his younger years.
Cody was a typical boy growing up, a bit mischievous, but with a kind and gentle heart always. He grew tall and very handsome, but was often a bit on the quiet side. He wasn’t quiet all the time though; Cody sure could cut loose and be quite the riot! He liked TV shows like “Pawn Stars” and “Breaking Bad,” and listened to rap music like Eminem and Jeezy. He was all-around lovable - I miss that Cody.
In his teen years, Cody gradually started experimenting with drugs and hanging out with the wrong crowd in our small town of North East, PA. It didn’t take long for us to notice that he was battling some kind of addiction. He struggled off and on throughout high school and after graduating, he managed to keep a steady job at a local factory. Our family didn’t really know what he was taking. At first, we were not sure how bad his addiction really was.
One day, Cody had an episode where he almost overdosed and was taken to the hospital. The doctors told us that it was a heroin overdose. Heroin?! We were all shocked and in disbelief that he was taking such a “hard core” drug. Luckily Cody was okay. When we spoke to him, he made it seem like heroin wasn’t a drug that he commonly used, and he promised he wouldn’t do it again. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Watching someone you love go through such a struggle and be so powerless is unbearable. Cody eventually agreed to go to a local treatment center, but unfortunately, could only stay for a couple of days. Many in our family felt so hopeless and discouraged, constantly worrying for his safety. Cody began to look noticeably sick from his addiction and much thinner.
Eventually, an opportunity came for Cody to attend a treatment center down in Florida. He really wanted to go!! Everyone in our family was so HAPPY! He was finally sick and tired of being sick and tired. We thought that Cody being so far away would be a good thing, as he wouldn’t be near any of his drug contacts, old friends, peer pressure, etc. So he traveled to Florida to get treatment.
Our family was elated that Cody was really trying to get better. My parents (Cody’s grandparents) went down to see him while he was in Florida. They took pictures, and he was looking so much better. We all thought, “thank God - Cody is back!”
Cody eventually moved into a halfway house and seemed to be loving Florida and all the sunshine. He met many new friends down there, and even had a couple girlfriends. During this time Cody sent us a selfie - he wasn’t a big selfie-taker, but we begged him to send us one. I posted a before-and-after picture on Facebook. We were so proud of him. He looked like a different man, he had filled out and was no longer thin.
However, as too many stories go, Cody continued to fight the demons of heroin addiction. After a while in the sober-living home, he began to struggle again and relapsed several times. Cody seemed to be trying, but kept falling short of recovery.
Around this time, my sister Stacy had a chance to fly down to see him. She missed him so much. When Stacy and my parents visited Cody, it would be the last time they ever saw him alive. When Stacy was at the airport leaving, she couldn’t stop hugging him and crying. Somehow, she knew it would be the last time holding him, and sadly, it was.
Cody received a small paycheck from a job he found in Florida, and the temptation once again was too strong. He took a bus to Overtown, where he knew he could get cheap heroin easily. Cody was found there the next morning, unconscious.
Cody left behind a sweet younger sister, Shyla, a loving mother and father, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and many friends. Cody left us on March 23, 2016. He was 23 years young, soon to be 24 and we miss him every day. I don’t wish this pain on anyone, especially my sister. I hope we find better solutions and treatment plans to start truly healing this horrible epidemic.