• Lacey Psybyla

The Day my Son Died | Addiction in the Family Part 3

Updated: Jun 23


I always say that dealing with my partner's drug addiction brought the same pain to my heart as grieving the death of my oldest son. In a way, it was worse because my partner's body was here, but his personality, character, the person I loved wasn't there. I was teased every day, hope taunting me with my old life, love, and best friend.

I had hope, so much hope in the beginning, but it was merely a puff in the breeze. A torturous kiss of death that brushed past me and reminded me what I didn't have. Unlike death, there is no finality, no proper ending. I felt darkness mocking me, flooding my life with the kind of deep sorrow attached to grief. This agony rejected any healing, playing cat and mouse games, dangling hope and pulling it back over and over.

In the past, I made a considerable effort to feel grief and move through it to heal. Being stuck in this feeling changed me. Previously, grief helped me grow, awaken and become a better person. This grief was making me bitter, depressed, fearful, and angry. I prayed for it to end. Let me be free.

June 2010

Colours swam past the glass, a fuzzy rainbow suddenly scattered. My tired brain shied away from the swarm of activity, and my eyes shifted to the stark yellow wall. I stared at it for a long time, thinking about nothing. I felt a thought struggling to break through the wall I mentally built when seeking to shut off any logical thinking.


The thought burst through the barriers, and I shook my head slightly, turning my attention to take in the room. In the oversized fish tank, lazy fish stared back at me. Chairs were pushed to a corner where a big family sat in a circle.

I studied the people and observed an older woman hugging two small children to her chest, her husband's hand resting firmly on her shoulder. My eyes skimmed to the younger couple huddled together, speaking intently. Another young woman, perhaps a sister, struggled to hold her tears back, biting her lip and glaring at the ceiling.

I felt something sting my heart and quickly slammed off my emotions. I looked past the fish tank to the wide hallway that separated me from the heavy double doors. Nurses in indigo scrubs hurried past, a doctor's brisk footsteps echoed in the hall. I sank back for a minute and tried to enjoy the moment I wanted to hang on to, this time when I was alone and not forced to think about where I was or what I was doing. However, it was too late now; the spell broke, so I slowly got up and walked towards the doors.

I heard my name and turned around, just about colliding with my hospital-appointed social worker.

"I'm sorry, I just wanted to know if you had decided to have an autopsy report done," she said, putting her hand on my arm.

"Oh, um..." I stuttered for a minute, not sure what to say, even though I knew the answer.

It just felt wrong saying it out loud because he wasn't gone. My son was still here; he was still alive.

I saw the sadness on her face and didn't want to make her feel guilty for asking, so I nodded slightly and tried to say something.

But my voice cracked as the sound tried to scrape past my dry throat. She moved through the doors with me. We entered the PICU, and she squeezed my shoulder after we had washed our hands and she escorted me to the entrance of the room.

I stood inside for a second and took in the vast bed with a tiny body in the middle. Today the machines keeping my son alive reminded me of monsters looming around his bed, humming through the room with such an assaulting noise. It seemed as if they were sucking the life out of him instead of pouring energy into him.

I put myself between the beast and the bed, picking up his tiny hand and noticed how dry his skin was. Death was coming. Life was draining from him. He jerked his fingers, then gripped my hand slightly, and I felt a rush of feelings in my mind and my chest. I put my head down beside his. Salty and warm, my tears swam down my face as my heart throbbed intensely against my rib cage, reminding me that I didn't get to go with my boy, whose heart was too weak to beat on its own.

I felt so alive at this moment, energy flowing through my body, my breathing building into deep sobs and heaving my chest. My cheeks were raw from tears, and I felt grated skin when I palmed away the wetness.

My mind was buzzing with so many emotions rushing together. Like a mini-tornado, my heart was slapping against the walls while building momentum. I felt hot and flustered. Something needed to break free. The pain was tormenting me.

My mind screamed at death. Cursed death. Begged death. Bargained with death. And finally, accepted death. What else could I do? I was losing my mind, losing myself, losing my heart, and losing my son. Is this happening? How did I get here?

Saying goodbye

It hurt so bad. My soul was screaming, out of control. My body suddenly hit an off button. I shut down, numb, protecting myself somehow. Life didn't allow my heart to stop beating as I wanted it, right then and there. I was ready to die with my son, but the world wasn't willing to let me go.

Something I didn't understand closed around me. Shock, I guess, protecting me. Death was everywhere. I stepped back, suddenly feeling like a zombie, the pain fading, skipping to the corners of my consciousness. I had to get through this. I had to keep it together. I had to stay strong so that my boy could feel my love, not my pain before his soul left his body.

A different life

That day changed me. It smashed a part of me into tiny pieces, and I'll never be the same.Parker had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a congenital heart defect that prevented the left side of his heart from correctly forming. It was not a terminal diagnosis, but a series of medical interventions weakened his body. On June 3, 2010, a month shy of his first birthday, we let our son go.

I was 25 years old when he died, and one of the only things that gave me comfort was having more kids someday. I wanted a family and felt empty without him. I knew another child would never replace this emptiness, but at least that emptiness didn't have to be alone.


Fast forward 11 years


It was spring. I had just survived a winter as horrendous as the one I suffered in 2010. I was numb on autopilot. My body was doing that protection thing again, but more subtly.

The first balmy day of the year poured warm sunshine through the window on Thor, who was lying in the rays. I heard a strange noise and leaned down to pick him up. His body flopped in my arms in an old, familiar way. I paused. I felt a tiny body hang limp in my arms before, after life had been sucked out of every pore.

Fear smashed through my chest and squeezed my heart with an iron fist. It clenched so hard that I almost couldn't breathe as I frantically tried to rouse Thor's lifeless body and began screaming that he wasn't breathing.

Like a dream, my memory jumps around, and I am in the back of the vehicle, speeding down the hill, begging God, "Please don't take him, please don't take him too! Oh God, I won't make it. Please don't let him go with you." I brace my legs against the seat in front of me and shout, "Blow the damn light! Go through the red light!"

I am standing in the emergency room. It seems so loud. So many people are around Thor, who is lying unconscious on the bed. The doctors and nurses remind me of bees, all rushing and buzzing about.

I'm crying. I hold my hands over my mouth to keep from screaming out loud. Then I scream out loud; I can't stop it. I know I am not helping the situation, but he looks like he's dying or dead already. I don't know, but the room is breathing on me, and I need air so bad before I throw up, faint or drop dead too. I stumble outside, try to get my bearings, calm down my body, to suck in air. I'm floating. I would rather drown.

I closed my eyes, and suddenly there was this warm darkness swallowing me. It felt like my eyes had been shut for 10 hours. They snap open; I feel rested and alive. It has only been seconds, and then I realize my body is doing that thing again and protecting me.

Perhaps I'm going into shock; I don't know. I'm aware that my heart is attacking its cage, a hurricane roaring violently in me. My emotions were sucked back and trampled into the deep cellar of my soul.

I pivoted on my heel and went back in, prepared to face whatever was happening and handle it like the boss I am. It had been a long time since I felt empowered, but I knew I had to be there for Thor.


Like, Subscribe and share my story! Next time, I will share the most challenging part of my journey.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addicted partner, reach out! There are groups like Al-Anon to help https://al-anon.ab.ca/, and you can find rehabs here https://addictionrehabcenters.ca/drug-rehab-centres-in-alberta/. This is a holistic centre if you want to get off heroin or fentanyl without substituting with methadone or soboxone. https://addictioncanada.ca/

Trust me. You don't have to suffer alone. You can also share your story with me. Sometimes it helps just letting go of the energy and talking to someone who won't judge you. I promise I won't.


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