GRATITUDE: Remembering Thanksgiving, 2004

November 29, 2004: Jeff’s email messages to his dad and to me.

Dad, Sorry about my absence on Thanksgiving. Trying to stop this craziness on my own is impossible. 

Mom, I don’t know what I need. I’ve never felt so powerless and unable to activate change. I’m paralyzed. I’m miserable and just need to get out of this situation.

My reaction to Jeff’s words, seven years later: I would like to write that these memories are distant, faded into the recesses of my heart. But I can’t. I remember well those years of chaos and destruction. I wrote, “Jeff’s words pierced me: powerless, unable to activate change and paralyzed. In California with no support system of friends and family, Jeff was coming face-to-face with himself.”

My promise for today: After a fourteen-year addiction, I know we are blessed that Jeff is healthy and sober today. Jeff fought for his life and there was nothing I could do but Stay Close. On this Thanksgiving Day, our family is deeply grateful that Jeff is home. Where there is life, there is hope.


01 Somebody’s Praying

Grandmom Cataldi with Jeremy and Jeff

A mother wrote to me: I wonder how many prayers we have lifted up as moms of children in this journey? And how many prayers others have lifted up on our behalf in an effort to do something, anything to support our both tender and strong mother hearts. How many prayers are lifted up, especially during those times when there is no clear answer to, “What do I do?”       

Time heals, the brain heals, our hearts heal…little by little. I’ve come to believe that ‘little by little’ turns out to be way bigger than we tend to give it credit. Hope fuels us through the hardest miles.

I’ve attached a song about prayer that I recorded for a friend who was going through a challenge a few years ago. It was written by John Elliot and the lyrics remind us how much comfort and strength come to us through those who never hesitate to ‘pray us along.’

Dedication: This mom and I offer you the song with our love. For me, I dedicate it to my mom who bombarded the heavens for Jeff. He was always in her prayers and in her heart. She is our prayer warrior. She prays us along – all of us, my brothers and their families, me and mine. She knows no other way. Thanks, Mom. We love you.

(Please click on the link above the photo 01 Somebody’s Praying to hear the song.)

Somebody’s prayin, I can feel it 

Somebody’s prayin’ for me

Mighty hands are guiding me

To protect me from what I can’t see

Lord, I believe, Lord, I believe

Somebody’s prayin’ for me.


Angels are watchin’, I can feel it

Angels are watchin’ over me

There’s many miles ahead ’til I get home

Still I’m safely kept before your thrown

‘Cause Lord, I believe, Lord, I believe

Your angels are watchin’ over me.


Well, I’ve walked through barren wilderness

Where my pillow was a stone

And I’ve been through the darkest caverns

Where no light had ever shown.

Still I went on ’cause there was someone

Who was down on their knees

And Lord, I thank you for those people

Prayin’ all this time for me.


Somebody’s prayin’, I can feel it

Somebody’s prayin’ for me

Mighty hands are guiding me

To protect me from what I can’t see

Lord, I believe, Lord, I believe

Somebody’s prayin’ for me…



Jeff with Grandmom Cataldi

An entry from my personal journal: August, 2009: Three years sober and my son is blending the best parts of his youth with what he’s learned from his addiction. His plates have sifted, crashed together and new land had emerged. He’s stronger; he’s more himself. He’s becoming whole, fully integrated – he’s becoming who he was meant to be. As his dad once said, “I think we’re seeing the flight of the Phoenix.”

My reaction to the entry above offering my thoughts today: I don’t know much about neurology, but I’ve read that it takes several years for the brain to restore itself, to heal. When my son reached his third-year anniversary of sobriety, I saw a huge difference in him: His sentence structure was more complex, his vocabulary was richer and his ability to reflect and take time before making a decision was evident. He was taking better care of himself and was more knowledgeable about his own sensitivities.

Today’s Promise to consider: Recovery takes time and life looks different in sobriety. The brain doesn’t heal all at once. I will celebrate each victory. I will celebrate today. I will continue to hope and believe.





Families in solidarity

A mother wrote to me: Two of my three children are addicted to drugs and my life has been inextricably altered. The relationship between mother and addicted child is unique, but I know that that does not diminish the experiences of other family members. Through group work, I talked with another mother who just found out that her child is addicted. She is panicked, confused, and said that she feels isolated, alone, shamed, scared and angry. I realized that I am not alone.

My thoughts on the above passage: There are four S’s used with addiction: shame, secrets, silence and stigma. We feel as though we are drowning in our own emotions and we don’t know what to do. I kept the secret of my son’s addiction because I felt shame. In silence, the addiction grew. But when I reached out my hand for help, I realized I was not alone.

Today’s Promise: I will join together and bring addiction out of the shadows so it can be healed. My loved one is fighting a powerful force and I will talk with other mothers and fathers and break the silence. In our pain, I will understand; in our stories, I will find hope; in our love, I will continue to believe.