Son Jeremy with daughter Iysa

A dad wrote: This post (about the young girl having courage to raise her hand even though other kids might laugh at her) reminded me that I can continue to improve my own ability to be more confident and courageous. I don’t think it matters if you are 6 or 66 – as the parent of an addicted child, I need all the confidence and courage I can find! Prayers for continued courage to fight the good fight. 

My reflection: My initial thoughts about courage were focused only on the child. I wondered if I hadn’t taught Jeff to be courageous when faced with peer pressure or tough choices. In recovery, I praised his courage to fight for himself and his life. This dad’s comments helped me to think about a parent’s courage. Courage doesn’t mean that parents aren’t afraid, but rather that we push through our fears and do our best in spite of them. There is a saying in Al-Anon, “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”

Today’s Promise to consider: As parents, we have many opportunities to role model for our children everyday courage. We need to show our children how to fight the good fight and to stand up for what is right even when we are standing alone. Today, I’ll stay close. I’ll hold out my hand and ask my child to hold on as he practices courage.





photo 2_2I buried my mother on December 28. She lived a long and good life, and she was ready. Days later, my friend’s son died from the disease of addiction. Two deaths, but two very different circumstances. When I went to the funeral home to support my friend, we embraced while she wept from a place that ripped open my heart and tore at my soul. She sobbed, saying over and over again, “I didn’t know. Why didn’t I know? Why couldn’t I have done something?”

My tears were the answer. No words to comfort her, no truth that could quench the enormity of her son’s tragic death. It is every parent’s greatest fear that her addicted child could die. The seriousness of drug addiction is often too horrifying to look at. My mother’s death brought grief to my heart, and my friend’s son’s death brought despair to my soul.

Today, I will honor the lives lost to addiction. I won’t sweep them under the rug and I won’t be silent. I will acknowledge the severity of this disease – it is a battle of life and death. My sons and I will continue our fight against addiction. We stand next to the parents and their fallen loved ones. We ask God to ease their pain.



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.


A mom wrote to me, I just returned from Thanksgiving dinner. The highlight of the day was the conversation between my nephew and my son, both of whom are recovering addicts. They are in such a good place in their lives, looking and feeling human again. I marveled at their strength, courage and honesty. They had us in tears, we laughed so hard. I’ve learned never to lose hope. Heartfelt thanks. 

My reaction: Jeff, when he was deep in the throes of his addiction, once told me, “You believe in me more than I believe in myself.” He tells me today that I was right. Someone has to believe because without hope, all is lost. There is a Tibetan expression in which I’ve found strength, “Even if the rope breaks nine times, we must splice it back together a tenth time. Even if ultimately we do fail, at least there will be no feelings of regret.”

Today’s Promise to consider: I will keep believing and hoping, especially during the most difficult times. I will lean on God, reach out a hand to another and remember that it is through difficulty that we grow. I will take time every day for heartfelt thanks.




To Iysa, my granddaughter: I can’t help smiling every time I look at this photo of you. You are two-years old and growing up so quickly, proud of your achievement – your first. These firsts make life magical, those moments of discovery and victory. I treasure these for you, and I wish you many more. I also know that as you travel through life, you’ll suffer setbacks and heartaches (for this is what it is to be human), but for today we celebrate your wondrous milestone and say, “Brava, Iysa! Good for you.” Love you, my dearest little angel. 

Today’s Promise to consider: Life can be difficult and at times it can be tragic, but for today I’ll remember my child’s firsts, her achievements, and I’ll celebrate. These moments of beauty might carry me through the hardships. Today, I will live in a space of gratitude.  



A recovering addict wrote to me: Addiction seems to be the epidemic of our world today destroying not only the addict, but also everyone around him. I read about Jeremy’s pain and frustration, and see my little brother’s hurt and inner battle. But the message is still hope. We are not alone. Ironic that a disease that is afflicting millions of people is a disease that isolates us. It does this because the one true defense, the true power against addiction, is standing together, walking together and holding each other as we trip and stumble.

My thought: These words strike me as true. Dr. MacAfee says it another way, “Only by taking addiction out of the darkness where it does its best work and into the light can it be healed.” Addiction thrives by isolating the addict and his family. If the addict keeps the secret, he keeps the addiction. Only by standing together in honesty, holding hands and working together, can we fight this disease.

Today’s Promise to consider: I will not keep the secret of addiction. I will not isolate myself in shame, stigma and silence. I will fight against addiction for my loved one and myself.




Son Jeremy staying close to his daughter Iysa.

A recovering addict wrote to me: My husband and I are both recovering addicts. After two years of sobriety, he relapsed. I don’t know which side is harder – the addict in active addiction or the loved one of that addict. Knowing Jeffrey and I have both managed to let God bring us back to the world of recovery brings me hope. I know my husband’s journey is his, and I can’t and have no right to take it from him. You never know when God’s miracle happens, but it usually happens when we get out of the way and leave it up to Him.

My thoughts: This young woman knows both sides of addiction. As hard as this must be, she also knows the hope of recovery, her own and her loved one’s. Her words touch me, “I know his journey is his, and I can’t and have no right to take it from him.” We never know when God’s miracle happens, but for me I’ve learned that it happens when I get out of the chaos and find my serenity.

Today’s Promise to consider: Both sides of any problem are difficult: There is the perspective of the one who must make the journey and the perspective of the one who watches and loves. As a mom, I know only one side, mine. I can’t take away my loved one’s pain, but I can stay close with compassion and prayer.


Granddaughter Iysa and Papa/Son Jeremy

A grandmother wrote to me, On especially hectic mornings, when I’m trying to get out of the house and my grandbabies to daycare, I think God stops me and slows me down so that I take the time to watch my grandson run to the front door and tell me, “I really run fast,” and let my granddaughter “do it myself” as she puts on her jacket. Even if it takes an extra five minutes, she is so proud to say, “I did it.” 

I look back and wonder did I take this time with my own children or was I so busy with work, cleaning house, homework, what have you. Knowing now what I know about addiction and serenity (thanks to Al-Anon), I take the time to enjoy my grandchildren each and every day, especially during the crazy hectic times.

My thoughts: Each day is precious, but often life’s pressures pound away at the present, and I think, “I’ll hug him later,” or “I’ll talk with her tomorrow.” There are memories that are forever stamped into my heart of Jeff running around in his Superman cape or Jeremy covered with mud carrying his treasures of frog eggs and salamanders found in the stream. My sons are now men and I can’t change the past, but I can hold onto my memories and make new ones.

Today’s Promise to consider: I’m not the perfect Mom or Nonna, but maybe there is no such thing as perfect. I can only be the best I can be. I’ll forgive myself for the times I wasn’t there, and today I will be there for my children and grandchildren. I will cherish every moment.


Jeremy asked me (May, 2009): “How will you end the story about Jeff?”

I admitted, “I don’t know, Jer. It’s not my story to end.”

His answer was clear, “But that’s the point. We don’t know what will happen to Jeff, but no one can ever take away our hope. You have to end the story in hope.”

And we did.

My reaction today: Jeremy was wise. In the midst of Jeff’s fight against his addiction, Jeremy, the younger brother, knew that we could never give up hope. He held tightly to this even when my resolve faltered. Jeremy helped me to be strong.

Today’s Promise to consider: Jeff is healthy today and our family is deeply grateful. We are humble as we continue to learn and grow each day. Jeremy taught me that hope is a powerful source of strength.





Papa Jeremy, Baby Iysa, Mom Aeriona, Nonna

First line from The Greatest Love of All

Sung by Whitney Houston (1963 – 2012)

Song written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed.

We offer this song popularized by Whitney Houston as a tribute to a star, a legend, who is responsible for some of the biggest music of her era. She battled drug addiction and we are reminded, once again, that addiction doesn’t discriminate.

When I was Head of School, I played this song for our students as a way of saying, “We believe in you. We believe that you are the future and, if we teach you well, you will lead the way. Your future is bright and we pass to you our strength, love and faith in you. Stay strong and know that we believe in you.” 

The Greatest Love of All

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvPYXHM94DQ&w=420&h=315]

Greatest Love Of All

(the first stanza)

I believe the children are our future

Teach them well and let them lead the way

Show them all the beauty they possess inside

Give them a sense of pride to make it easier

Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be