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Jeff J.

By Jeff’s son, Jesse

Jeff Julien May 2, 1969 - December 13, 2012 Danvers, Massachusetts

My father, Jeff, overdosed on December 13, 2012. It was the very same day the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Danvers police came to my home to say that my brother and I couldn’t stay there as my mom couldn’t afford the gas bill. They kept saying things like, “Where’s the dad!” or “What do you do with your child support?” My mom’s answers seemed to go ignored. I was only nine, my brother four. Unbeknownst to these Danvers, Massachusetts police, and myself, they had either responded or heard of an overdose earlier that day... the overdose of my father. He was a father that I called by his first name as my visits with him were far and few between. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t known him at all. By all appearances, he was a good, hard working man. He drove nice cars, had motorcycles, and pretty girlfriends. He was the proprietor of a roofing business that he had started on his own. Like myself, Jeff had grown up with little to no help from his own alcoholic father. Seems to me it may be a generational thing. I have a sister whom I haven’t seen since February 2016, just two weeks after the overdose of my idol, my hero, the person that acted as a father, my uncle John. Jeff and John didn’t get along. The reason they didn’t get along is because my uncle did realize firsthand the damage Jeff’s short stints in and out of my life did to me and my Mom. My mom always wanted to trust Jeff, but it always ended with her upset and me feeling lost and little in a big world. My brother, Jake has a different dad. I consider him the “lucky one” and was envious for a long time. At this point, I accept things as they were and acknowledged them for what they are. I am grateful in some ways: grateful for the respect I have for my mom, or any single mom for that matter; grateful for learning at a young age that heroin addicts are not always the barefoot, homeless man living under the bridge; grateful that I can teach my friends the consequences of opioid use; grateful that my mom is open, honest and real when it comes to talking about this drug and any others, without judgment or condemnation. I am angry at other times. Angry that I am “that kid,” you know the one with the dead dad. When I was younger and asked how he died I would imagine myself saying that he died while putting out a massive fire or that he was a cop trying to capture and put away a bad guy. I wished I could say he was at war and died in battle. It was scary to say he died from using heroin. But I now recognize that he was at war, the biggest war of his life, battling the worst bad guy ever and that he tried hard to put out that fire but as it goes more often than not, that burning demon that addicts battle every single day of their lives won. That’s the sad reality of this epidemic. The often overlooked truth about the addicts that are referred to as selfish, ignorant, junkies... to name a few. They are battling the biggest monster of their lives and instead of being belittled perhaps its time people see them not as junkies but as human beings that are hurt and in need of help? I will never know my Jeff. I will forever be upset for missing my opportunity to try and be the bigger man and mend a broken link; to show my Jeff that it’s okay to be loved and to love. Rest in Peace Jeff. Love always, Your only son, Jesse James Julien


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