By Lee’s mom, Elaine
Oct 30, 1987 - Mar 28, 2019
Lee Michael was passionate about rollerblading starting at a young age. During the winter months, snowboarding was included. Wheels, boots and other skate parts covered our workbench in the garage. Magazines and DVDs subscriptions came in the mail and he and his friends spent hours watching and dreaming of the next pair. It was nice to see the concentration in Lee's body when he skated. Every rail or curb was a potential skating spot. His friends were drawn to his enthusiasm and they became skaters.
Lee and I traveled this journey at the same time, but not on the same path. I know what I went through and I can only imagine what he suffered. Unfortunately, a part of addiction is overdose. I never witnessed an overdose, but estimate Lee overdosed 7-8 times. My mother witnessed one - she said it was the worst day of her life. Eventually, calls to 9-1-1 were replaced with Naloxone. Campaigns such as 'Don't Use Alone' and 'Don't Let Them Die' were desperate pleas. We were so ignorant about addiction; we couldn't keep ahead of the learning curve. We set boundaries and established rules. Lee promised. We took it personal when he didn't follow through. After Lee's death, I started reading everything to try to understand why. During active addiction, his brain couldn't keep those promises. In fact, most were unrealistic. He was ashamed when he disappointed us and stayed away. My regret is why I didn't learn more during his addiction. I did not practice tough love. I am so thankful I did not alienate my son, especially towards the end. We texted a lot and Lee knew I loved him. When I saw him, we hugged real hugs. He always told me he'd be OK. I always knew each hug might be the last. I wonder if he thought the same. I miss him terribly.
Losing Lee Michael was numbing. Every night when I laid down, my thoughts raced. Where is Lee? Is he OK? Will I get the call tonight? I'd text him, 'Hey, you ok?' and lie awake waiting for any reply. Even a 'hey' back was enough. This went on for years. Then I didn't hear anything for two nights. My body went through the motions for the next few days. This happened occasionally and then he'd call. It was excruciating not hearing. Then a single black heart appeared on his Facebook page. I immediately private messaged her and asked if she knew where Lee was. She, this stranger replied, he died. My body and hands started shaking. I texted, where is he right now! This is his mother. That's how I learned of his passing. All our hopes Lee Michael would be the exception were gone. My only child, my dear son. Forever 31.