My grandfather on my mothers' side was a dealer. He disappeared in 1973 along with my uncle who was twenty-two years old. She lived in Cleveland Tennessee.
We met in a chat room. I came down here a couple of times to meet with her in person. We had a long-distance relationship through cameras on the computer for about a year. Then she quit her job and everything. She came to New York to be with me. My wife was a believer and she would say things to me like; she would mention things from the Bible. I would say, that’s a bunch of B.S., that’s a book written by men. I don’t believe that. My father died. Uncles have died. I’m unique among my friends. There’s only a couple of us left. Dozens and dozens of them have died from overdoses or AIDs or whatever. There’s me and this guy Steven. There’s nobody else. Her mother sent a box of books, some materials. One of them happened to be this little booklet. It was about Jesus’s thirty-nine stripes you are healed. Now, at that time I was on the methadone program and I was taking pills illegally. So, when she came up and I looked at this book. I wanted to be free of the pills. I didn’t think I could ever be free of methadone. I didn’t even think it was possible but I wanted to be free of the pills. So, I would take this book in secret and start reading it. It has thirty-nine stripes. On each stripe number is a Bible verse, two Bible verses and a prayer. I started reading the book and praying the prayers not even knowing exactly what I was reading. I almost died a couple of times. I couldn’t even hardly sit up in bed. My wife called my counselor from New York (from the methadone program), and put him on the phone with me. He said, “Rocco, I hear what’s going on. Your wife told me. You have got to get to a local hospital and let them give you some methadone, even if it’s just a cap.” I said, “no, this is it. If I came to Tennessee to die then it’s going to be. I am not going back.” It was a rough go, but that stand that I took, God gave me the strength because I don’t have courage like that of my own. That stand that I took I believe, really filled me with God and has kept me on that path.
One of my best friends who is now dead, he died in a gunfight, said to me, “you’re not one of them born again Christians are you?” I said, “well, yeah. Yeah. If that’s the term that you want to use. I have God’s spirit in me now. I am born from above.” He said, “don’t be preaching to me.” We almost got into a fight over it. We made up, thankfully. He was killed three weeks later. I needed drugs. I needed methadone and drugs to function, get out the door and just deal with life. Now, the first thing is, God is my drug. God is my drug. I go to God. He gives me Himself and I deal with the world. That’s the biggest change for me.