I wrote this about the Christmas of 2006: My family knows well the Hell of addiction, but we know only our own Hell. Those who love addicts suffer. The addict suffers. No one is immune. In our family, we each handled our grief differently. Jeremy held things inside, caught in that gap between loving his brother and hiding the truth and loving his brother and telling the truth. Tim and I suffered and responded in our own divergent ways. Grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, no one knew what to do. During the Christmas of 2006, when neither son came home for our large Italian family gatherings, my brothers didn’t know what to say. They didn’t even know whether to invite me to the festivities. The cousins were confused; could they ask about Jeff or would it be kinder to leave him out of the conversation?

My reflection: The holidays put the addict on center stage when the accumulated chaos of his or her life, and ours, causes excruciating public pain. It is during these family gatherings of joy that addiction often taunts and mocks us the loudest.

Today’s Promise to consider: During the holidays, addiction can severely isolate us, making us feel ashamed of all the ways our lives are not as joyful as they’re supposed to be. I will avoid this dangerous place by being patient and compassionate with myself and my loved one. I will find my serenity in honesty and prayer. I will not allow addiction to rob us of our peace.


A mom wrote to me: Yesterday was an unimaginable horror. It’s difficult to forget the constant thrumming in the background of the horrific school shooting in Connecticut. How does a parent mourn the killing of his or her child; how does a nation mourn the killing of twenty little children and six adults?

Today I will stop and offer prayers. I will honor, in some way, the twenty baby lives and six adult lives lost. This tremendous suffering is impossible to hold and I find it hard to breathe. There are no words sufficient to wrap my head and heart around the overwhelming grief. There are no words to ease the pain.


Dear Mom,

You’re gone physically, but you’re tucked inside our hearts forever. We will go on just as we should, and just as you would have wanted. You told me, “When I pass, please be happy for me. I can’t continue to live like this. I want to go home.” And home you are.

Thanks, most of all, for showing us how to pray and how to believe. Thanks for never giving up on Jeff, even during his most addicted and traumatic times. You never quit believing that he would find his strength. You bombarded the heavens for his recovery. Thanks for always believing in Jeremy. I know how you loved his big presence, his gentleness and his charisma. You smiled with joy just by hearing his voice. Thanks for supporting me through the writing of Stay Close, when I exposed my family’s problems to the world. You were proud that we were giving back and trying to help others by sharing our story of hope. You were our intercessor, our prayer warrior.

We’ll miss you, Mom, but we will tell the world that there was once a woman of great faith named Laura Maria who taught us by her example to never quit believing, who taught us that there are times when even the strongest find their greatest strength on their knees. As you told Jeff, “It only works if you believe.”

Love you, always and forever,

Your daughter




A mother wrote to me: When I awake every morning and go to sleep every night, I feel God’s presence in my life and the life of my child. He is good today, but I know it’s one day at a time. Dealing with addiction takes courage, humility and gratitude. Courage to stay close and to love our child, humility to remember that the addiction is strong and can come back at any time, especially when we least expect it, and gratitude for the good things that happen in our lives – both big and small.

My thoughts: Courage, humility and gratitude are powerful forces, much more powerful than I realized years ago. When Jeff was using, I prayed each morning, “Dear Lord, thank you for keeping him alive today.” I expressed gratitude for the day ahead of us, trusting that God heard my words. Today, Jeff is good and our family is thankful. Tomorrow he has another choice to make.

Today’s Promise to consider: When the people we love are in active addiction and we’re used to bad things happening in their lives and oursit’s easy to fall into resentment. But for today, I will make a concerted decision to see the positive, to start my day with thanks and to live the day in a space of gratitude.