I never got the chance to confront Jimmy about his addiction.
Because he never woke up from our son’s bed.
I know for a fact that when I got home that day he was still breathing. I had shaken his shoulder once to see if he was awake, and he was warm, and I saw his chest rising and falling. I wasn’t checking for signs of life at that point, but I remember they were there.
I let him continue to sleep while I figured out what to say to him. Should I research rehab facilities? Should I get other family members involved? Should I tell anybody, or ask someone for help?
I had no experience with addiction, but it was becoming obvious to me that was what we were dealing with.
It was dark outside before I decided Jimmy had slept long enough, and clearly wasn’t going to wake up on his own.
I’ll never forget that moment when I went to our son’s room to wake Jimmy.
I shook his shoulder again, harder this time. I could tell right away something was different. His shoulder was no longer warm to the touch, and he was weirdly stiff.
I started to panic.
“Jimmy! Wake up!” I screeched, shaking him harder and harder. I started to cry as I leaned into his chest, listening for a heartbeat that wasn’t there. I started to give him mouth to mouth, trying to get him to breathe.
I called 911, but Jimmy was pronounced dead upon their arrival.
Later it was explained to me that Jimmy had what is known as the Gray Death in his system, a mixture of synthetic opioids. I was shocked. I thought perhaps somehow Jimmy had gotten his hands on more painkillers, and that was what was making him so loopy and tired and unwilling to work.
Turns out, he had run out of multiple refills of his prescription, and the doctors wouldn’t give him any more. He had found a dealer who would supply him with the Gray Death, which was cheaper and easier for him to get than prescription pills.
He had overdosed and died in his sleep. The drugs had slowed down his heart rate and breathing so much that he couldn’t survive. At least he hadn’t felt any pain.
And just like that, my perfect family, my ideal life, my dreams for the future, were all destroyed.