My way of saying that it is was okay was that I was a functioning addict. I went to work, I took care of my kids, and I took care of my own household. I owned my own home. I thought that everything was okay.
What should really scare you about this point is that, as I pretty much told you, I was never sober—and I had my kids with me all the time. So, I was constantly driving with them. They were with me everywhere I went.
I wanted to get help, but I didn't know where to turn, I didn’t know who to ask. I was afraid. If I asked for help the state might take my kids away because at this time things with my husband weren't working out at all.
But looking back on things now, I wish I had sought out help. Maybe they would have taken my kids away and my son would still be alive.
Because on April 12, 2006, I was driving with my kids, once again, and my son was in the back of my pick up. For no reason at all, I lost control of the car. I was the only car on the road. My car went spinning out of control, and my thirteen-year-old son was thrown out.
It was eleven o'clock in the morning, and my blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit for the State of Tennessee. My ten-year-old daughter was in the front with me, and she escaped serious physical injury, but her emotional scars still bind her.
My back was broken in the accident. I was never supposed to walk again. But the same doctor who couldn't save my son’s life went in and fixed my back. I spent the next year recovering from my injuries and sinking even more into addiction. Because of my back injuries, I was put on a lot of painkillers. I was able to get off meth, but I started drinking even more heavily. I would drink like an eighteen-pack a day and mix it with the painkillers.
On December 21, 2006 - this was about eight months after my son died - I decided I’d had enough, and I tried to kill myself. I remember going to bed and lying there. I laid there for three days. My kidneys released, and my body started rotting alive. I was laying in the fetal position, and everywhere my skin was touching my skin, it was growing together.
I can also remember that, for those three days, I don't know how much of the time, but I was alone by myself in this little apartment. I had this shelf and I kept seeing on this shelf - it was like one body with three heads, and I felt like they were taunting me. I don't really remember what they were saying, but I remember being so frightened. In looking back on that day I remember thinking that those were probably the demons welcoming me to a devil's hell.
I didn’t die then. I spent about 21 days on dialysis fixing my kidneys.
I received a twelve-year sentence for the death of my son. I started praying to God. I still had a lot of issues when I first came, and I was really sad. I was dealing with a lot of un-forgiveness for myself, and I talked to the chaplain there. He was a wonderful man whose name was Brother Leonard, and I started telling him about this un-forgiveness that I had had for myself. I felt so heavy. I couldn't do anything.
What he helped me understand that day - this was May of 2008 - by not being able to forgive myself, I was saying that Jesus Christ’s blood was good enough to cover anybody else's sins but mine. I didn't want to say that about my Savior. I didn't want him to think that I thought his blood wouldn't cover my sins. So how could I not forgive myself? It was there that I began the process of trying to become whole again - trying to become a new person.
I had asked Jesus to forgive me for my son’s death a million times, and I still find my self-asking him for forgiveness, even though I found a way to forgive myself. I heard a saying that says, “God does not remember what we cannot forget,” and I’m so grateful for that because I know that he's forgiven me for David’s death. That does make it easier to live each day. [pause] It doesn’t make me miss David any less.
The only reason I can find that I am still sitting here is to tell my story. I’ve told my story numerous times at church. I have often felt that my story falls on deaf ears. One time I was at church - just full of nice wonderful Christian church people - and I thought there is nobody here that needs to hear this. A couple of weeks later this older woman walked up to at Cartwright Church of God.
“I saw you at my church and my grandson was with me,” she said. “I just want you to know that my grandson heard the story of how your son died and that his mom was having trouble - life issues with drinking and driving. She said, “My grandson wouldn't get in the car with his mom. He said that he was afraid.”
And because at that, her daughter - her grandson's mom - got help for her addictions and went to rehab. Now she has her daughter back and her little boy has his mom back. That meant everything to me.
Telling my story - even though I think nobody might be listening or it might not get heard - it is saving lives. If it happens for just one person then maybe my son's death won’t be in vain. So I continue to tell it whenever I am asked.
It says in Revelation, “They shall overcome by the word of their mouth--the blood of the Lamb - and the word of their testimony.” And I know that we’re covered - I’m covered - by the blood of the Lamb.
And I just keep telling myself that as many times as I tell my testimony, if there's just one person that hears it and gets the help that they need, then it’s all worthwhile. I will never forget the look on that grandmother’s face after she told me that her grandson’s mom got the help that she needed.