Sunday, February 24, 2013

Daren's Letter - February 24, 2013

Hi Babe:

I finished your story the best I could without your help.   I heard if one happens to see little lightning bolts in their peripheral vision it's a spirit trying to communicate with them.  After I finished your story, I walked out of my bedroom, down the hallway and to the outside of my left eye, I saw lightning bolts one right after the other.  I know it was you, Honey.  I could feel your energy. 

When your dad died, I struggled so hard with not having the ability to feel him near me.  You would tell me over and over "He's there, Mom.  You just have to open yourself up."  and I would tell you that I was truly trying.  I knew that you were letting me know that you are with me.  Did you hear me say "I see you, Honey.  I love you so much and I miss you."

I hope, my darling boy, that your story will help just one person from getting into drugs or help them come off them.  I don't know what else I can do, so I need your guidance to help me know what steps I should take from here. 

I don't know what it is like where you are at.  I don't know what it is you are suppose to be doing in the realm you know share with your Dad.  I don't know what powers you possess.  But if you do have power you can use on helping anyone here, I would ask that first of all you help your sons.  Stay close to them and whisper to them to make right choices.  Second Honey, you know your friends that are suffering from the same demons you had.  If you can, go to them and encourage them to change the path they are walking.  Encourage them to have the strength to do what you were unable to accomplish.  If I can do something to help, somehow let me know what that something is. 

You remember the lyrics I wrote for you "Dance with the Devil."  Tyler York composed the music for it and Honey, it turned out so beautiful.  He will have the professional demo done around March 3rd and we will get it on YouTube.  I know you will love it when you hear it. 

I'm heading to Alaska on Thursday.  I'm going up to help Vince and Christian with all the legalities that came from your passing.  They are such wonderful boys.  I was telling Vince the other night what my plans were to keep from being a burden on my family and he said "Don't worry about it Grandma.  I will take care of you."  I told him how much his saying that meant to me, but its my responsibility to take care of me until I can't possibly do it any longer. 

Life is not the same without you honey, nor will it ever be again.  You left a void that cannot be filled by time or reason.  I have wondered if a spirit can be terminally broken from being torn apart from grief.  I feel when your dad left, he took a part of my spirit and when you left, you took another.  I can actually feel an emptiness inside me.  With your dad, I felt lost and with you I feel hollow.  The thing that comforts me is closing my eyes and picturing you where you are at.  I picture you walking along with your dad, or having a cup of coffee with him.  I picture your smile as you say hello to your Aunt Mary and give her a big hug.  She loved you so much.  She enjoyed going home and finding her sink filled with trout you had caught in the Provo River.  I picture your greeting all of our family that has past before you and I see the joy in their faces in seeing you once again.  I can see your dad standing there being so proud of you. 

I'm glad you are at peace Sweetheart.  I'm glad you don't wake up everyday with trying to battle your addictions.  I bet you feel so free now, don't you. 

Wherever you are at, or whatever you are doing just remember one thing.  There's a lady here, sitting in the middle of her bed writing this letter that loves you dearly...always have and always will.  I'm glad I got to be your Mom and share your life with you.

I love you my boy. 

'Til I'm with you again.


Friday, February 22, 2013

A Letter to Danny - February 22, 2013

Hi Honey:

I haven't written you for a while, because I have been writing our son's story.  But you know that don't you.

While writing it, I was so over whelmed with love for you.  Remember how you use to say "You can do a million things right and one thing wrong, and people will remember the one thing you did wrong."  We both had a lot of our wrong things, Honey, but I want you to know that I remember the million when it comes to remembering you.

As I wrote Daren's story, I recalled what you did to save your son.  I thought of the old movie "Walking Tall" and told myself once more that your children and I had our very own hero in you.  That was just one part of the man I love.  The part that would kick down doors and make threats of killing the SOB's if they ever harmed your son.  We all knew you would protect each and everyone of us when push came to shove.

Then there was the part of your that was so forgiving.  Honey, I don't remember a time when you were wronged that you didn't turn around and forgive.  What an incredible trait to have.

Do you know honey, I never remember you being judgemental of our children.  I hope they know that when they made mistakes and turned and walked away, you never spoke ill of them behind their backs.  I remember one day I was feeling bad because one of our children had dropped out of school.  Of course, I thought it reflected entirely on the type of mother I was not to have instilled a more stronger desire for an education.  You took me in your arms and said "Gal, don't judge us on the rules society makes.  I don't think society is doing a very good job.  Our kids will do okay."

 I stopped that day...I stopped comparing you, me, and our children by the standards others tried to impose on us.  I decided we didn't need to follow the same route everyone else was taking in life.  What did it matter if we took a detour or an exit and ended up seeing life differently.  As long as we didn't hurt others, what harm did it do?  The answer my Darling, is it did no harm at all.  Oh, perhaps people looked down their noses at us.  Perhaps they whispered behind our backs.  Perhaps they felt the need to pray for us that we would be able to get back on "right" track.  Looking back, I think the scenery of our route was much more colorful.  Colorful would be a good word for our life together. 

You balanced me out honey.  When I was being pulled under by my emotions, you reached down and lifted me up with your reason.  Now, when I find myself sinking, I think "What would Danny tell you to do?"  I take a deep breath, think what you would tell me, and then I do one of two things:  I do what you would have told me...or I do what I want.  (You just smiled didn't you.)

You know Honey, You were never a hugger.  (except to me.)  A memory just brought a huge smile on my face.  Actually, it made me laugh.

Remember when Jereme was leaving to go into the Navy before he and Haley were married.  We had a family get together at our house before he left.  He was just a little scrawny kid back then and when he got ready to leave, he walked up to you and gave you a big hug.  You stood there as stiff as a board with the funniest look on your face.  You didn't know what to do.  (God forbid you just give the kid a big old bear hug.)  I'm sorry Honey, but we still all laugh at that memory.  Your discomfort was so comical. 

The last time Mark saw you, he decided he was going to break that chain.  He and Justen had come to Alaska and they were just getting ready to head back to Utah.  Mark went up and put his arm around your shoulder, as you patted him on the back.  Do you know what I have come to realize my love.  You wanted their hugs as much as they wanted yours. 

I have pictured in my mind the scene as you met Daren when he left this earth last month. My mind sees him step through the veil to find you waiting for him.  I can see you as you walk towards each other, you reached out and shake his hand as you throw your other around his shoulders in a warm embrace. 

"Glad to see you, Son."  You say to him. 

"Thanks, for being here for me, Pops.  You got a cup of coffee?"

I love you Honey

Far Beyond the  12th of Never.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Daren's Story - Epilogue

I set curled up in the middle of my bed, my heart breaking like it did so many years ago when I found out my son was doing cocaine.  Instead of a pink panther character, I hold the program from his funeral.  I was asked how I can recall the details of his life so vividly when I don't have my journals with me to refer to.  The answer is simple.  I have relived over and over in my mind the events that filled my son's life.  I have looked at them from both sides and all angles trying to find answers, reasons.  I have filled my mind with "what ifs" and "if onlys" and find doing that is simply painful and useless. 

Yes.  My son Trent Daren Whiting was an addict.  And NO, addiction is not what defines his whole life. 

I remember vividly, the voice telling me twenty-eight years ago "Daren will be instrumental in the work of the Lord."  How that will come to be, I don't know.  I do know that there will be a time and place when that will be revealed to me.  Until that time, I will simply marvel. 

I marvel at the truth.  My son was in a very bad place years ago, mixed up with very bad people.  He owed dangerous men a lot of money.  His life was in danger, no less than his father's was when he aimed his gun over the steering wheel and stared down the enemy.  My son could have lost his life back then, when he was young, and my beautiful grandsons Vince and Christian would never have been. But he did not.

My son was so far into the drug scene that the fact he didn't do prison time is in itself remarkable.  Was this happenstance?  I don't think so.  I feel with all my heart, there was a purpose for his life, and his life was as it was suppose to be.

Because my son lived, I have learned compassion.  The word addiction doesn't conjure up in my mind the stereotype of an addict.  Instead, I see someone's child, brother, sister, father, mother, aunt, uncle, friend.  I see a person who is loved and worried about.  I see a person that wakes up every morning and faces an unseen enemy.  They walk onto the battlefield and fight themselves. 

Because my son lived, I have learned kindness.  Beneath the jokes and laughter and brashness, beat the heart of a true Christian.  He didn't preach from a pulpit,  He was just kind and unjudgemental in the living of his life.

Because my son lived, I have learned generosity.  He would give his last dollar to the panhandler on the street.  He would open his home to the homeless and give up his own bed.

Because my son lived, I am not afraid of the truth.  I can stand and tell the world I am the mother of an addict.  I can say my son made mistakes, serious mistakes.  I can say I made mistakes in his life as his mother, that I didn't have all the answers (most of the time I didn't even know the right questions), I can shout to the world my family suffers the malady of mental illness and not be ashamed of it.  I can admit that I failed, but not feel a failure.

Because my son lived, I learned unconditional love.

Because my son lived, I learned to laugh at myself.  I learned to find humor in the most unexpected places.

Because my son lived, I learned loyalty and to know how and when and to whom to place that loyalty.

My son was an addict and because he lived, I will die a better person.

"Daren will be instrumental in the work of the Lord." 

Perhaps those words meant he would be the instrument in making just one person a better person and maybe...just maybe... the voice I heard knew that person would be Daren's own mother.

Daren's Story - Chapter 16

The affect of what you were taking didn't make you act as bad as you did before, but it was enough to make me worry about where you were headed once again. Marijuana use is legal in Alaska and I thought perhaps that was what you were using, but I was only kidding myself.

Spring came to Alaska (meaning it was only twenty below) when we got word from the home-owners they would be back in March.  We had to find another house before then. 

There was a little cedar cabin just down the road that was empty.  The people who had rented it before had left it in such a mess.  Apparently, they had multiple dogs they had kenneled in the master bedroom.  It smelled so bad.  I contacted the owner and asked if we could clean it for the first months rent and deposit.  She told us yes, so we tore out carpet, painted and scrubbed until it looked like it should home. 

How your dad loved living there. He felt bad with himself because he couldn't work so I encouraged him to keep up with his chain saw sculpturing.  He had such a talent for it and he could carve when he felt like it and rest when he needed to.  He decided he needed a carving shed so he could get in out of the weather, which was a very good idea except for one thing.  We didn't have the money for him to buy materials to build a carving shed.  But that didn't stop him.  Everyday he would climb in his ton truck and drive down to the transfer sites (sites where everyone would bring their garbage.)  He would come back with boards and tin, stove pipe and whatever else he thought he could use.  To me it looked like junk but to him each piece was a diamond in the rough.  He was so excited over each little thing he found.  You would remark how you wished you could be like find joy in such little things. 

Board by board, nail by nail, screw by screw, he built; never losing his focus until he had created the cutest little carving shed.  I found his faith incredible; faith enough to create miracles.  He would say "I need a window for the front of my shed" and the next day, he would find the perfect window at the transfer site.  It happened over and over again.  I did resist his excitement though the day he brought home those ugly kitchen chairs; all eight of them.  Remember how ugly they were honey.  They were either Italian or french design in burgandy and gold.  Oh my gosh, they weren't pretty.  I had him take them back with the ruse that they didn't go well with our country themed little house.

Honey, you were so patient with us for so long.  I know it wasn't easy having us there with you and your boys.  I know your dad and I cramped all of your style.  The only thing that I know made it worth it for you was my cooking.  The fact that your dad couldn't hear well (Okay, I can hear you laughing at that one.) and would turn the television up full blast when you were trying to sleep because you worked graveyard didn't make for a very good mood in you.  Or when he couldn't understand why you didn't appreciate his trying to fix the bedroom door after you had just got laid down.  He was just pounding away when I looked over at you, saw the look on your face and just burst out laughing.  "I think it's called Karma," I said to you as you climbed back out of bed and went in to help him. 

Thank you honey for making his time in Alaska so good.  Thank you for allowing him the time to rest, and carve and fish.  Thank you for putting the fishing lures on his pole when his feet were too swollen for him to bend down.  Thank you for netting his fish for him and helping him hold them up for pictures.

How I enjoyed our time in our little cedar home.  The summers were beautiful and the winters were cold.  The ice built up two inches on the inside of our front room door.  You were taking your boys to school one morning and then were heading on in to work when your car quit on you.  You called me to come and get you.  I was only twenty minutes away, but by the time I got there, the ice had built up from your breathing all around the inside of your car. 

When the following spring came, we decided we needed to leave the little house.  It had a mold problem that we worried would affect your dad's health.  Your dad and I pulled our trailer house down to Haley's and decided we would live the summer in it.  You were going to look for a place right away, but Rainee and her family came up and we all wanted to take a trip to Valdez fishing, so you pitched a tent to the side of our trailer and you and the boys lived there for the summer. 

You met a guy that said he would rent you his house for a penny a month, if you would fix it up.  He had divorced and moved from Alaska and wasn't interested in moving back.  Once again, we painted and cleaned and you replaced the carpet.  The end of October, we moved in.  You gave your dad and I the bed, and you slept on the couch. 

I didn't want to force ourselves on you honey.  You know it concerned me even though you assured me it was not a problem with you.  I just felt your dad and I needed our own place.  A place where his idiosyncracies wouldn't bother anyone. 

I had to come to Utah in November of 2011 to attend a pre-litigation hearing regarding the drug store that filled the wrong medicine for your dad.    You called me one day, upset.  Your dad had said something to Christian and it upset you.  You told me you would rather us not live together and have Christian love his grandpa than to live together and have your boys grow not to like him.  Honey, it was nothing I wasn't expecting.  I understood your feelings and I understood your dad's.  I told you that as soon as I got back from Utah, I had already planned on finding us an apartment.  The next day, I called your dad and told him my plans.  He said "Well a lot of things can happen between now and then."

On November 11, your dad became very ill.  You took him into Fairbanks to the doctor and called Shannon and Haley.  They met you at the clinic.  His liver ensymes were high and so was his potassium.  They had you take him to the hospital emergency to get him hooked to an IV to get his potassium level down, and diuretics to get the swelling reduced in his feet. 

Shannon and Haley laughed when the doctor asked him if he had any children.  He said yes, he had two boys.  He kind of forgot his five daughters. 

Shannon asked the doctor if they should send for me.  I was to be back there on the 14th but they would have me come back early if the doctor thought I should.  The doctor said he thought your dad would be okay, to bring him back on Monday to get his blood work checked again. 

On the 13th your dad woke, walked into the kitchen and said he was hungry.

"What would you like to eat, Pops," you asked him. 

He told you some soup, so you fixed him some with crackers  Your dad said he was going to lay back down for a while and then he wanted to get up and get the laundry room painted so it would be nice when I got back.  You told him you would help him.  You helped him back to bed, then he told you he was out of chewing tobacco.  You told him you would run down to the convenience store at the end of our road and get him some.  When you got back, he had died.  You pulled him off the bed and tried to resusitate him, but to no avail. 

We brought him back to Utah for his memorial service.  We all gathered at Mark's house the night before to go over the plans.  We all knew you were on something that night.  You were staying at Rainee's mother-in-law's apartment, and for the next four days after the memorial service, you didn't leave it.  I worried about your coming back to Utah and being around your old friends that had their own drug problems. 

I think that winter after you left Utah, was the worst time of your life.  The weather was the worst you had ever seen, and trying to keep your house warm so hard.  You worked for the State of Alaska  and although the benefits were good, the pay was not substantial.  Once again, you were hit with emotional situations that you didn't know how to deal with, so you turned to drugs to numb them.  You hadn't shown up for work for a couple of days, and you hadn't called in.  Your boss called Haley to see where you were.

Honey, you just didn't understand. Your drugs put us all in such an awkward position.  We couldn't lie for you.  We couldn't make excuses for you anymore.  We didn't know if we would find you alive or not.  We decided we would separate ourselves from you and see if that separation would cause you to re-evaluate what you were doing.  We all tried, but you know Sweetheart, we just couldn't follow through with it.  It was something I felt deep in my sould that I couldn't isolate you.  As frustrated as I got with you, as much as I hurt, when you were isolated, I felt sick inside. 

"Honey," I told you.  "You really need to get some counseling. You have so many things going on in your head.  You need to find some help to sort it all out.  That's got to be the first place to start in coming off the pills.  You've got to start from the foundation, work out the problems and then work yourself up.  Get some help, honey."

You told me you would.

When I found out you, Vince and Christian were spending Thanksgiving with your sisters, I was so relieved.  How I loved having you call me to find out how to make my lemon jello. That was the dish you were taking for dinner.  I walked you through it step by step, had you write the recipe down and explained everything in detail.  (It's not rocket science.)  The girls said it looked beautiful. They were trying to be kind by not telling me how it tasted.  When I asked you how it turned out, you told me it wasn't bad if you liked lemon rubber bands. 

You shared Christmas Eve with your Alaskan families.  Shannon beat you in poker and you called her a bitch for it so I knew you were having a good time. 

You and I had planned on writing a book about your struggle with your addiction.  You wanted to go around to schools and lecture.  You called me one day.  "I came up with a title for our book," you said. 

"What?"  I asked.

"SHUT UP!!  I'M TRYING TO HEAR MYSELF TALK."  You said.  "I'm talking about my own mind shutting the "f" up. 

You had designed a special shovel that you wanted to get patented. You were going to come to Utah and get everything done on it.  You had drawn a picture of it with the details written beside it, and on the top of the page you had written "I Will Follow Through With This." 

Christian had his shoulder operated on, and you didn't want to leave him in Alaska by himself.  Andie, Vince and Christians mother flew up to stay with them while you came to Utah.  Andie would tell me that you said you wanted to check yourself into the Malibu Clinic.  You wanted help.  You had never before said you wanted to go to any kind of a clinic.

Vince called Rainee a few days before you were to come down and asked her if there was something she could do for you.  You were going through some really bad times.  Rainee put into plan to have you go on a cruise she and Shane were going on when you got down here.  She was excited to have you go with them.

You called me on the 19th of January to tell me your plans.  I told you Mark and Dawna were excited you were coming down and so was Rainee.  I told you Sheree was coming down from Idaho the same day you flew into Salt Lake City and she wanted to be the one to pick you up at the airport.  "I'm glad they didn't give up on me," you said. 

On the 20th you called me again.  "I love you, Mom." you said. "I miss you."

"I miss you too, Honey." I told you.

"No, Mom." You said.  "I really, really miss you."

I could hear sadness and remorse in your voice.

"Just get down here," I told you.  "We are all so happy you're coming. I just want you to promise me one thing.  Promise me you won't go out with your friends and get high."

"I promise you, Mom." You said. 

I ended my call by saying I loved you and you saying you loved me. 

You called your brother and talked about the shovel, and your plans and just as he started to hang up, he heard you say "I love you, Bro." 

"Love you too, Mark said."

My world crumbled around me at 5:00 a.m. January 21, 2013.  I got a call from Vince saying "Grandma.  My dad's gone."  My little black haired baby, my little tow-headed boy, my handsome son had died of the drugs he had battled.  They had won the war, but my boy was not dancing with the devil anymore. 

Rainee said on the cruise they took and that Daren was to have gone on with them, there was this one port where the people were friendly, music was playing, and construction was going on.  She told Shane that she thought had Daren been there, he wouldn't have got back on the boat.

As I was driving home that night, I heard Daren whisper to my heart.  "I didn't want to get back on the boat, Mom."  He had found his peace. 

Daren's Story - Chapter 15

The Naltrexon was working so when the two months were over, you went back to New Jersey again to get another implant.  One of the guys that was working for us had the same addiction you had, so we told him if he wanted to go with you, we would pay to have his implant put in.  In my heart of hearts, I really knew that the Naltrexone was only a bandaid.  You weren't dealing with your addiction, you were just hiding it.  But Honey, it was so wonderful to see you not on drugs.  I kept hoping that not being on them would enable you to take a closer look at what you could do to manage them.  But, the implants were short-lived along with your being clean. 

There would be times when I would get a call from your little boys telling me you were sleeping but they couldn't get you into bed.  They were only six and four years old.  I would drive over to your home to find you in the stupor the drugs put you in.  You would be standing up, hunched over, and stiff like.  You would sway back and forth, jerk, wake a little and then fall back into your lethargy.  Most of the time, you would have a cigarette in your hand, burnt clear to the filter.  I would stay with my grandsons until I could get you to lie down on the couch.  I would cover you up and then load the boys into my car and take them home to stay the night. 

The thing is Honey, I knew you knew what you were doing to your boys, and I knew that knowledge you buried into your mind with all the other regrets you had.  I knew it ate at you daily.  You knew that Christian would stay home from school, because he was afraid if he left your side, you would die.  You knew that your finances suffered, not because you didn't earn enough money, but because what you earned went towards your drugs.  You knew you were not going anyplace in life; you weren't growing, achieving, accomplishing all that you knew you could.  In fact my precious son, you didn't want to be who you were.

There's a saying among recovering addicts and alcoholics that when addiction starts, development stops.  I saw this with you honey.  Your emotional development stopped at the age that you started using drugs.  You didn't know how to deal with life.  If you were worried, instead of dealing with what worried you, you took drugs to hide it.  If you were sad, instead of dealing with what was making you sad, you took drugs to hide it.  It all became such a horrible vicious cycle.

How many friends did you watch die over the course of your life?  I can think of six.  Your friend "V" was such a cute guy.  He was funny and charming and cute.  I spoke at his funeral, and watched you and Mark place duck calls in is pocket as he laid in his casket.  When "V" died from drugs, I thought "This has got to make him see what the drugs are doing.  Surely this will wake him up and he will see where he is headed."   But you buried it under your own addiction.

I've heard it said that each of us have one special person come into their lives; a soul mate so to say.  You found yours in "K".  She came into your life and she would never leave it again, if only in your heart. 

She moved in with you along with her little boy.  He and your sons became fast friends and I, looking for the magic answer to your problems, hoped she would be the answer. Surely, you would do anything for her; anything to keep her. 

She became pregnant, and you were ecstatic.  You were so certain it was a little girl.  Once again I thought "A little girl.  Surely, she will turn him around."  But "she" didn't come to be.  "K" miscarried, and you both were crushed. 

Once again, there were three of you in your relationship; you, "K" and drugs.  "K" made the correct choice that she needed to think of her little boy and what your relationship would do to him, so she left.  For the rest of your life you would tell me there would never be anyone else for you. She was the love of your life.  The damn drugs robbed you of her too.  And of course, you didn't know how to deal with all your emotions, so you hid them with a bottle of pain pills. 

The price of your addiction caused you to lose your home in Springville.  You, Vince and Christian moved in with us in Payson.  You see my darling son, tough love still wouldn't work when Vince and Christian were in the middle. 

Your dad lost the contracts he had in utility construction, so he decided to shut the business down.  We moved from our Payson house to a rental in Santaquin.  Mark had started his own excavation business and was doing well.  You started taking the construction classes so you could get your own license also.  "Dirt" was in your blood you would say and you loved to play in it.  My sober son had all the right ideas about life.  He liked to work hard and would teach his sons the same.  "Head down...ass up," you would teach your boys about shoveling, indicating the position they should keep in.   

Honey, you didn't even know how truly intelligent you were.  Yes, you struggled in school because of ADHD, but your mind was wonderful.  How you loved the "History Channel" and would absorb and could recall everything you watched on it.  You were so inventive.  You were so quick witted.  The things that came out of your mouth at an instant's notice would amaze me  (and more often than not, shock me).  You loved God and you loved the world He created.  The mountains were your cathedral.  The sun, God's gift.  The natural man God created in you was so wonderful!

Your goal to get your contractor's license once again was replaced with pain pills.  You had lost your job and was deeply depressed.  Your dad and I had found a house in Mona, but we couldn't move into it until we could get a well dug and the waterline ran, so we were going to stay down at the house but live in our trailer house until it was ready to move into. 

I had found needles in the bathroom and knew you were doing heroine.  You didn't have a job, would soon not have a place to live, and still had two wonderful young boys who needed to be thought of.  Sheree offered to take Vince and Christian to Idaho to live with her until you were able to get on your feet.  You had reached the lowest part of your life I had ever seen you reach.  Losing your sons now made you depressed, angry and resentful...but not at the drugs.  You were mad at the world.  In your mind, you saw me as being the one who took your boys away from you. 

You moved in with a friend and was able to get a job.  Your dad and I had finally got moved into our house after a couple of months of waiting for permits, well drillers, materials and the money to pay for it all. 

You were working in south Santaquin one day when I called you and asked if you would like to run down to Mona for your lunch.  It was the first time you had talked to me since the fall-out we had had weeks prior.  You came down, and we talked.  You said you were getting an apartment in Payson and were going to go pick the boys up from Sheree's.  They had done well at Sheree's; had the structure they had never had before but I knew how much they loved their Dad.  They missed you so much.  Some might wonder how they could miss a life with an addict.  It's because as I've said before honey.  In you there were two men.  There was Daren and there was Daren on drugs.  Daren was simply wonderful. 

"What If."  I have asked myself that question so many times over my life.  "What if" I hadn't called you that day.  Would it had made a difference?  "What if" we would have fought you for Vince and Christian.  Would that have made you face your demons?  What if...what if.. what if.

You went to work for Mark, overseeing some of the projects he had going.  Daren was such an assett to him.  You could oversee men and get them to do what you wanted done in such a positive manner; a manner where when they left the job, they still liked to be around you.  Some of the grouchiest city inspectors were putty in your hands.  You could win them over with your quick wit, a handshake, and a grin.  

Of course, Daren on drugs was a different story; one Mark would understandably have little patience for. 

You worked for him until the first part of 2009.  The economy was falling apart and the construction industry was failing. 

Haley and Jereme had invited you to move up to Alaska and live with them until you could get yourself set up.  So in July of 2009, you and your boys set off on your Alaska adventure. The pictures of you in Alaska were wonderful.  You had started gaining weight, and looked so healthy in the pictures with your sons and all the fish you were catching.  You had a construction job and things were looking up for you.  In September of 2009, you had been asked if you would like to house-set for a man and his wife who were going to the lower 48 for the winter.  All you would need to pay would be the utilities.  It was a beautiful house that sat right on the Salcha River. 

In May of that year, your dad had suffered a heart attack.  He had bounced back from having a stent put in, but then the drug store had filled the wrong prescription for him which set him back.  Other health issues forced him out of the dump truck business we had started.  The stress of everything was having its toll on him.  We were not able to make the payments on the dump truck nor on our house.  I didn't know what we were going to do.  But then you called and told us to come to Alaska and live with you.  Living in Alaska had always been your dad's dream and now you had made it possible. 

Mark took over the dump truck and the payments, we sold our home on a short sale and your dad and I headed to Alaska.  He drove his one ton truck, pulling our trailer house and I followed in my car.  The only things of our lives of 45 years that we kept, were on the back of his truck and strapped to the top of the trailer.  My possessions kept consisted of my Christmas decorations.  His was a few of his construction tools.  I had learned that my home did not consist of the roof we lived under, but of the people that were under that roof.  I had your dad, so wherever he was at could be my home. 

You and Haley met us at the Salcha Lodge as we pulled into Salcha and led us to where we would be living. 

"Honey," I asked you, "are you sure about this.  I don't want your dad and I to be a burden on you and the boys."

"Mom," you said.  "Stop being stupid.  You're worried about being a burden on me after all the years I've been your burden.  My home is your home.  Whatever I have is yours."

Through all the years being in the construction business, I could not remember ever being able to enjoy a winter.  Winters were times when we worried about getting enough work, about keeping our employees employed, and keeping equipment and tools maintained.  It had never been a time we could really relax and enjoy being inside and warm on a cold winter evening without stress.  But that first winter in Alaska gave that to us. 

You had been helping Haley and Jereme with the "Salcha House of Horrors" a spook house they helped put together for Halloween.  It was held at an old abandoned shack that sat in a field out in Salcha.  On Halloween there, the temperatures would drop to a negative 20 to 30, so a fire had to be kept burning so the people who came could gather around it to keep warm until it was their turn to go through the haunted house.  You were in charge of getting firewood and keeping the fire burning.

"Nobody's going to be crazy enough to come out in this weather to go to a haunted house," your dad said.  But he didn't know Alaskan's very well.  The place was PACKED!  You kept a big roaring fire going and enlisted your dad's help.  He was loving standing by the fire talking to everyone who came.  I watched you...being Daren and was so glad you came to Alaska.  You were happier than I had ever seen you and so were your boys.

The construction stopped in Alaska and you went on unemployment.  I had picked up a part-time bookkeeping job.  Your dad had some setbacks with his health.  He had caught the swine flu and had pneumonia in both lungs.  We put him in the hospital and he slowly started getting a little better physically, but his depression was getting bad.  I became frustrated when he said "How in God's name did I end up in this frozen hell," when it had been his dream we were living. 

We had Thanksgiving at our house and invited Haley and Jereme over along with some people that didn't have anyplace to go that Thanksgiving day.

Christmas Eve was spent there too as well as New Year's Eve.  You and Jereme braved sub-zero weather to set off fireworks over the frozen Salcha River while the rest of us huddled around a burn barrell to keep warm.  It was such a wonderful experience being there, in that house, with you and the boys and enjoying our first winter.  I thank you so much for that time honey.

The signs began.  They were soft at first, but I knew them well. You would lay on the couch and not want to go out.  One day.  Two days and you would stay.  I know now honey that you were afraid.  You were afraid to venture out, because what you were feeling made you know that if you left, you would run towards finding drugs.  And drugs can be found.  It doesn't matter where one moves, unless of course it's an isolated island, drugs and temptations will follow.  An itch that you can't scratch away, even though you have tried and have reached blood.  It still itches until it drives you crazy.  The itch was back for my son.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Daren's Story - Chapter 14

We were all wearing our emotions on our sleeves that morning.  A lot of things flowed through our minds like water through a broken dam; things like fear and worry.  I have chosen to refer to our family as "passionate" whereas your dad chose to say we were a bunch of loons.  I think some actions that morning would coincide more along your dad's terminology.  Rainee and Haley got locked in a heated conversation that resulted in Rainee hitting Haley over the head with the hotel directory/menu.  Mark kept one of them in one room while I took the other in the separate room.  After a few minutes of rationality, we did what the Whiting's always do at stressful times.  Rainee walked back into Haley's room and said "Let's go eat."  To which Haley replied, "Okay." 

I marvel my darling boy, that our family can still carry on a conversation with each other let alone be as close knit as we are when with all the silly, stupid things we have said and done.  I guess the fact we are all "loons" at one time or another prevents us from throwing rocks in our glass houses. 

We all went down to the hotel restaurant and had lunch and tried to come up with some kind of a plan.  Staying longer in New York had really not been factored into our budget, not with our rooms costing $299.00 a night each. 

When we got back to our room, I called Jet Blue and told them our situation.  Jet Blue stepped right up to the plate telling me they would pay for our expenses until we could fly out.  They paid our for our hotel rooms, meals at the hotel restaurant, and even to have our clothes cleaned.  The generosity they offered us was so very much appreciated. 

We stayed in the hotel the better part off the day, afraid of the unknown of what might happen.  Finally we ventured out to find Time Square an eerie desolate.  The shoulder to shoulder people we had encountered the night before was no longer.  Everything had been shut down: the theaters, restaurants, gift shops, everything.  As we walked down Broadway, tears were brought to our eyes by the patriotism shown.  Hanging from upper story windows were sheets where upon was written "God Bless America." 

We looked down Broadway and saw the billowing smoke from the World Trade Center.  You and Susan walked down as far as you could go and found ashes covering everything.  Sheree and Charmane passed by a man standing on a crate, declaring the end of the world was upon us while  President Bush could be seen from the New York Times Tower declaring America would not tolerate such acts of terrorism.   The lullabye of Broadway: noise, traffic, and honking horns had been replaced with the nightmarish sounds of the sirens of firetrucks and ambulances. We would find out later, that the young man running the elevator who had taken us to the top floor of the WTC had been among the casualties, along with the pretty blonde girl who had helped take our photographs overlooking New York.  Putting faces to the lost added to the realization of the senselessness of the destruction.

Back in our hotel room, I found you looking out our window.  I placed my hand through your arm as you said "You could have all been killed and it would have been my fault."  I knew although I said everything I could to try and make you realize that it was not your fault,  you would take it and tuck it into the recesses of your mind where you harbored other guilts and would let it gnaw at you. 

Each morning we turned on the television to see if the airspace had been opened to allow us to go home.  Each day we would find we were still trapped.  We stayed close by our hotel for a couple of days until the restaurant food all started tasting the same.  We all agreed that we could think of nothing that would taste better than an ordinary bologna sandwich so we set off in search of a grocery store that was open to buy the makings.  People were venturing out again.  The sidewalks were filled once more.  I found it so strange that in a city of approximately eight million people, one of the ones Dan Rather's News would pick to interview would be me. 

We found a market, bought bologna, bread, mustard, Miracle Whip and potato chips and went back to our room to make our lunch.  A simple sandwich had never tasted so good. 

The concierge of the hotel called our room to tell us the cast and crew of "42nd Street" was putting on a free show for anyone who wanted to attend.  She asked if we would be interested and of course we were.  The show itself was wonderful, but when the cast came out for an encore carrying American flags, the audience erutped into cheering and clapping and whistling.  Tears streamed down my cheeks at the show of such patriotism and my heart felt as though it would burst.  I looked at my children and saw they shared my feelings. 

We kept making our calls home, reassuring our families that we were all okay.  We didn't know when we were going to be able to leave New York though and your dad was getting very nervous.  He called Jereme to ask him if he rented a motor home, if Jereme would be able to drive back to pick us up.  I told him it would do no good driving back as they would not be able to get into New York anyway. 

Finally, we got word from Jet Blue that we would be able to get a flight.  We were thankful, but we were also very apprehensive.  Was it truly safe for us to fly?

Getting through Security was long and tedious, but I was never more thankful to be inconvenienced.  Now, each time I fly, I appreicate the time spent going through all the x-raying or whatever else is required.  We sat at our gate for quite a while, waiting.  I had never been a racist in my life, but I must admit that at that time, I was wary when I saw anyone with dark skin.  I am thankful that feeling did not stay with me, for I know for every bad person of whatever color, there are far more good ones. 

When we made it through Security, you and Mark went to the restroom, and when you came out, I noticed you had taken off the sweatshirts you had both been wearing.  You had yours wrapped around your right arm and Mark had his wrapped around his left arm.  They both had been tied in place with shoelaces.  I would later find out you had done this in case there were any other terrorists aboard that might try and use box cutters the way the others had done.  Your theories were that if they attacked, you could block them with the arm with the sweatshirt while you took them down with your free hands. 

Can I just tell you how much I love you both and appreciate that you would devise and instigate a plan to keep us safe.  Even without needing to use it, the fact that you were willing to do so proved what heros you both were. 

We boarded our plane, but before we could take off we were informed by the pilot we would need to be detained for a while.  We had to wait until after "Airforce One"  had taken off. 

None of us slept on the way home.  We prayed a lot and kept watch.  So very thankfully, we made it safely back to Utah, our families intact.

Daren's Story - Chapter 13

It was time to leave New York City.  The trip had been such a wonderful experience, two-fold.  First of all and most importantly, perhaps my boy had a chance to kick his addiction and secondly, what an incredible opportunity I had had in spending those days with my seven children.

We were on the 34th floor of the Marriott Marquis Hotel.  We had the blinds pulled open letting in the beautiful autumn sunlight as we packed our bags.  Checkout time was 11:00 a.m. and since we didn't leave NYC until that evening, we planned on leaving our bags at the bell hop station and getting in some last minute sightseeing.

It's funny how one can remember exactly what they were doing at a given time on a given day.  I was standing in front of the window ironing something.  I can't remember what the something was, only that  I was ironing.  Mark and Sheree were sitting on the other bed in our room.  We were watching television as we packed, just as the first plane hit the World Trade Center.  I remember looking out the window just then and thinking "It's not cloudy or foggy or anything.  How could the pilot not see the World Trade Center?"  Then the second plane hit.

"Mom," Sheree said.  "It's a terrorist attack!"

All of my other children and Charmane came running in from their room.  We all stood around watching the terror unfold.

The third plane hit the Pentagon, and I worried about your Aunt Lola.  My sister and her husband Boyd were in Washington DC.

Then, the plane went down in Pennsylvania.

What was going to happen next?  We were in the heart of New York City and terror was exploding around us.  Did they have car bombs they were planning on using?  Chemical warfare?  All of the "what-ifs" ran through each of our minds.  It was you and Mark who went down to the under ground garage and told the manager they needed to get all the cars out from under there.

"Mom," you said to me.  "Call down and keep our rooms."

I called the reservation desk and told them we would not be checking out at 11:00.  How thankful I am that you had told me to do that, or we would have been out in the streets of NYC for the next five days.      Everything was shut down.  All tunnels and bridges coming into NYC or leaving, were closed.  Airports were shut down as well as the subways and other public means of transportation.

Did our family remember I had changed our tour?   Might they think we were in the World Trade Center that morning as we had previously planned?  My grandchildren were in school.  Since most of them were so close to the same ages and lived in Payson, most attended Taylor Elementary.  We called the schools and told the secretary to get in contact with all the Whiting children and let them know we were safe.  Then my children called their spouses.  I was the last to call your dad.

He was out in the fields on his tractor when his cell phone rang.

"Where are you?"  I asked him when he picked up.

"I'm out plowing," he said.

"Go in and turn on the television," I told him.  "There's been a terrorist attack in New York City.  We are all fine, but we won't be flying home tonight."

After assuring him we were all okay and telling him how very much I loved him, I promised to call him every hour to let him know what was going on.  Unfortunately, there would be times I couldn't get through because the lines would be packed with everyone else trying to contact loved ones.   Since then, I've thought how many might have been those trapped in the WTC trying to call and tell the ones they loved goodbye.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Daren's Story - Chapter 12

We were fresh, clean, and ready to hit Broadway.  That first night, you and Mark were so protective of your mom and sisters.  Mark would take the lead, with us sandwiched in between and you would follow up in back.  Although we appreciated your protectiveness, we were happy when you relaxed a little bit.  I can't remember which show we saw the first night.  We had tickets for Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserable, and Beauty and the Beast.  I remember sitting in my seat during Beauty and the Beast during intermission.  You had gone out into the foyer and returned with a red rose for me.  That was my boy.

On Sunday, 9/9/01, we boarded the tour bus and we were off.  We arrived at the World Trade Center and standing outside before going in you said, "I sure hope we don't get bombed."  We went to the top floor and looked out over New York City.  There were some Asian guys there who kept looking at you, chattering away.  They followed you around and finally you found out what their interest in you was.  They thought you were Clint Eastwood's son.  So as not to disappoint them, you autographed their pictures for them and they invited you to visit their homes if you ever made it to the far east.

We went to Battery Park and caught the Ferry to Liberty Island.  Of course, you and Rainee played "Titanic" by you both standing at the bow with your arms outstretched.  It would take us a long time taking pictures to get one just right that would look like you and Mark were holding up the Statue of Liberty.  We might have caught the image sooner, had we stopped laughing long enough.

We toured Ellis Island and road the subway to Coney Island.  The ride itself was entertaining to say the least.  Susan practiced her pole dancing and subway surfing, and we got pictures of you and Rainee using a man sleeping as your  prop.  We had the world famous Nathan Hot Dogs and you and Mark had frog legs.

I remember sitting there in my subway seat, watching you and your siblings and marveling that you all were mine.  I watched you all laugh, and talk, joke and you were just grown up versions of the silly little kids that use to run around in our little red brick house.

I wondered how it had happened that I was your Mom.  It certainly wasn't because I was smarter or wiser.  I just decided that perhaps, as spirits, God gave us a chance to draw straws to see who would get to be the mother...and I won.

The next day, we left your sisters to go sight-seeing while you, Mark and I rented a car and headed to New Jersey.  I knew you were apprehensive.  You were quiet during our drive there and when we entered the doctor's office I kept wondering if by chance you might back out from having the implant.  You didn't though.  The Naltrexone tablet was inserted just under the skin, to the left side of your lower back.  I prayed this would be the answer to your addiction.  Perhaps if you could stay off drugs for a while, you would see that you could do it permanently.  You were warned that when the tablet dissolved, if you took as many pills as you had grown accustomed to, it could kill you.

You said you weren't in much pain, so my two boys and I decided to tour Philadelphia.  We went to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall and toured the cobbled streets of this birthplace of democracy.  We got lost trying to find our way back to NYC and ended up seeing the rural farmland of New Jersey.  After driving through some of the less desirable districts of New York, we finally made it back to the hotel in time for you to rest a while until your sisters arrived and we hit the night life of New York once more.

I thought of your Dad back home, taking care of business as usual.  How I appreciated his support in trying to help his son.  He never told you in words that he loved you.  He wasn't a man to give hugs and kisses.  Neither had his dad.  It bothered you and Mark that he didn't.  It didn't bother your sisters like it did you two.  I told you both that you had the option of changing things; of breaking the chain so to speak.  You could break that chain by telling your own children that you loved them.  You could break it by showing affection to your own.  And my darling son, that is just what you did.  You never left  the house nor had your boys leave the house without telling them you loved them.  You gave your hugs freely to them.  Your showing of affection was not only given your sons, but it was given freely and easily to others you loved.  And I was blessed to be among the ones you loved.

- to be continued -

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Daren's Story - Chapter 11

You and your boys were living in your little house in Springville.  When my son was in control, I would find you outside mowing your lawns, washing down your sidewalks or being excited over the flowers you had planted.  You enjoyed cooking and would call me asking for your favorite recipes like Spanish Rice, Shrimp Macaroni Salad, or Apple Cake.  You loved and appreciated my cooking so much.  You would invite your Dad and me over and I remember sitting at your kitchen table listening to you and your dad talk about hunting or fishing, and I was so happy.  It was like I was soaking it all into my mind, to be brought forth, dusted off and remembered another day.

We would go elk hunting with you up Dry Fork Canyon.  What a joy it was to be with you and your sons.  Before the sun rose, I would hear your knock on our trailer door and ask if I had a cup of coffee you could have.  I would fix you breakfast before you, your boys and your dad took off hunting.  I wanted to grab hold of those time and not let them go because I knew they would be short lived, and soon the drugs would steal your time from me.

Vince was attending Kindergarten in Payson, although you lived in Springville.  With your sisters taking care of your boys for you, it was easier and more convenient to have him in Payson where they could be close to him.  It was graduation night, and your little boy was standing on the stage getting ready to get his diploma, graduating into the first grade.  He looked so cute in his little cap and gown.  I had called you over and over and you kept promising you were just leaving the house; that you would be there soon to watch him.  You never made it.  Mark saw you headed to Payson on the freeway.  You were swerving back and forth across the lanes and ended up going down into the meridian.  Mark pulled down in behind you and took Christian out of your truck and had one of the guys that worked for us drive you and your truck to our house.  He called me to let me know what had happened.  The next day, I called Child Services and asked what I needed to do  to get custody of the boys.  I was told there was nothing I could do.

In 2001, we heard of a new treatment for those suffering addiction to Opiates.  It was an implant of a drug called Naltrexone.  It was a time released tablet that was implanted just under the skin.  It prevented the addict from the ability to get high off the drugs.  You said you wanted to try it, but the only place that had the patent to do it was located in New Jersey.  Your dad told me to go with you.  We would take Jet Blue Airline's red-eye flight, fly into New York City and then drive to New Jersey.  When your sister Rainee found out we were going, she wanted to go did Susan...and Shannon...and Sheree...and Haley...and Mark.   Your dad told us to all go and he would stay home and hold down the fort.  The spouses of my children agreed to watch the grandchildren (Jereme offered to take care of Vince and Christian along with his own.)

Since we were going to be in New York City, we decided it would be a good time to make it a vacation too.  The Whitings Hit New York.  I reserved rooms for us all at the Marriott Marquis Hotel on Broadway.  (We stayed in two rooms; five in one room and four in the other because Rainee's friend Charmane came with us too.)  I called the Grey Line in NYC and made arrangements for a tour on their bus.  Our tour was scheduled for 9/11/2001.  The tour included a stop at the World Trade Center at 9:00 a.m.   Two days before we left, I called the bus line and rescheduled our tour for the Sunday before.  We toured the World Trade Center on 9/9/2001.

In order for you to have the implants, you had to be drug free for a week before. When we boarded the plane, I could tell how hard it was for you.  Between withdrawals and the anxiety of flying, it was pretty tough on you.  Our doctor who knew the reason we were going, prescribed four anti-anxiety pills for you.  You took one just prior to our boarding.  You needed an aisle seat to accommodate your long legs so you sat in front of your brother and two sisters.  Right next to you in the middle seat sat a young man, a stranger to us all.  We had been in the air for a while when I heard your brother say in a not very quiet whisper,

"Pssst.  Mom."

I and your other sisters looked back to see Mark pointing and laughing at you.  You had fallen asleep, and had your head resting on the shoulder of this guy next to you.  The guy had fallen asleep too, and had his head resting on yours.  It was a Kodak moment to be sure.

I'm sorry sweetheart.  I know it was a pretty traumatic time for you but you know your family.  Someone had to be the butt of their senses of humor and you were elected.  It continued into the next morning.

When we got to our rooms, you fell asleep on the bed and boy were you out!  Your sisters took one look at you and decided this opportunity just couldn't be passed up.  They proceeded to put make-up on you.  You had blush and blue eye shadow and lipstick...the whole works.  You were quite the pretty guy.  Then they woke you up.

"Daren!  Wake Up!  We're hungry.  We want to go get something to eat."

You yawned and stretched and set up to the side of the bed and said, "I need a smoke."

We were in a smoke free room.

"Well go on out and have your cigarette.  By then we should be done with the bathroom and you can have it."

So my darling boy.   You walked out onto Broadway in full makeup, had your cigarette and then came back to the room.  One look in the mirror and you laughed and said, "You Bitches!"

- to be continued -

Daren's Story - Chapter 10

I wasn't co-dependent in the traditional sense that professionals might describe co-dependency.  I was co-dependent by the fact that your drugs had became a major focus in my life.  It took time away from my husband, my other children and myself.  The brain part of my body knew it wasn't right, but the heart part of my body told me I was your Mom and mothers were suppose to take care of their babies, (even though my baby was a 6'4" man).  My heart told me I should still love you, protect you and save you.  Loving you, even at your worst, was so tremendously easy.  Protecting you and saving you was an impossibility.

Just as diabetes, heart disease and other physical ailments have their symptoms, so does the disease of addiction.  Unfortunately, the symptoms of addiction can also be referred to as "sins".  A person suffering addiction will show symptoms of lying, cheating, stealing, and conning and a myriad of other unbecoming attributes.  It is so hard to have empathy for an addict, while not condoning what they will do to get their next fix.

When a person cuts his arm, he can look down at the blood, feel the pain, and say "I had better go to the doctor and get some stitches."  His/her brain allows them to look logically at the problem, to assess it and to act appropriately.  The brain of an addict does not work that way regarding their addiction.

"Mom," you told me.  "from the time an addict wakes up in the morning until they go to bed at night the only thing on their minds is thinking about drugs, trying to stay off drugs, or trying to figure how to get their next fix.  Mom, I dance with the devil everyday."

"I know you do, Honey," I replied.  "Just try to be the one who leads."

You told me even the smell of exhaust from the tailpipe of a car would awaken the demon inside you begging to be fed.

"Hey, Whiting.  Come here.  I've got something that will make you feel better."  

You didn't know what you were setting yourself up for that night.  Did you, Honey.  You gave yourself away that night.

20/20 hindsight vision brings about all the "should haves", "would haves", "could haves".  I should have done this.  I would have done that.  I could have done something else.  I have looked through the lenses of that vision so much over the past years, wondering what the outcome might have been had I or your dad done something other than what we did.

I have heard the words "TOUGH LOVE" batted around as how one should deal with an addict.  First of all, I was married to one of the most forgiving men I have ever met.  You know your dad, Honey.  He always gave everyone a second chance, or a third, or a fourth.  You remember all the young guys that had worked for him in our construction business who would quit, go to work for someone else and later down the road come back and ask for their jobs back.  Do you ever recall one time, he didn't take them back?  I can't.  Beneath his stone exterior beat such a gentle, forgiving heart.  And in the hands of my children, I was mush.  Tough love was not who we were.  Perhaps it's who we should have been, but not who we were at the time.

To complicate the tough love scenario, we had two precious little boys that stood between you and us.  Vince and Christian were there in all their innocence standing in the middle.  If your Dad fired you, they would be the ones who would suffer.  If I turned my back on you, I would be turning my back on them.  Call it love.  Call it weakness.  Call it whatever terms might be attached to it, but we just couldn't do it.  Along with the very true fact that my son was in truth two people.  There was Daren and then there was Daren on drugs.  They were as different a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde:  night and day.  Oh my God my darling boy how I loved you.  How I loved everything that Daren was.  You were so Christ like in so many ways.  When you were you, you were so kind.  You were never judgmental.  You had compassion for your fellow man.  You would give your last dollar to the panhandler on the corner or stop and help whoever had a car stalled at the side of the road.  Your sense of humor would never end. You would make me laugh and you would touch my heart.

"You are a very good man with a very bad problem,'  I would tell you.  And that was the truth of it.

- to be continued -

Friday, February 15, 2013

Daren's Story - Chapter 9

Your dad installed the CB in his truck and continued going to Heber and Park City to work.  It would be after the fact, that I would learn what had happened.

He headed up Provo Canyon early one snowy morning.  He crossed over the road that led across Deer Creek Reservoir and headed toward Heber.  The reservoir was on his left and the immediate mountain on his right.  Being early, the traffic was very little.

He noticed a truck pull out from one of the roadways, speed up until it was close to his bumper.  There were guys in the front of the truck and others riding in the bed of the truck.  They  followed him closely for a while until your dad saw a snowplow coming toward him.  The plow was in the middle of the road coming directly toward the middle of your dad's truck.  The only options he had was crashing into the mountainside, or swerving off into the reservoir.  Instead, he chose option three.  He reached to the side and took his 357 out of its opened case.  He aimed it over the steering wheel toward the driver of the plow.  It had become a life or death game of "chicken".  When the plow came close enough that the driver saw the gun pointed at him, he swerved left and allowed your dad to pass by.  The truck of men, however were still on his tail.  He traveled further when another road appeared.  From it, the Summit County Sheriff's vehicles pulled out behind the truck following your dad.  Your dad pulled to the center of the road and slowed down.  The truck behind him pulled  over, surrounded by sheriff's cars.  The CB radio had been used by your dad to contact the officers.

What happened after that, we do not know.  We did not want to be involved any further.  We just wanted our family safe and for all intent and purposes and for whatever reasons, we felt we were.  We didn't see the two policemen after that.  We saw no policemen after that; none down the street parked in front of our  neighbors' houses nor up on Grandview Hill scoping our house with binoculars.

You began acting like our boy again, except for the whistling sound you sometimes made when you breathed that caused by a hole being burnt through the inner cartilage of your nose from your extensive use of snorting cocaine.

Once again, looking back, I recognize how naive I had been.  Had I known what I learned years down the road, I would have known that your addiction had not been cured by the happenings of the past months.  Your addiction was alive and well but now your drug of choice became pain pills.

You fell in love and married and had two beautiful little boys.  They were your pride and joy and I was certain that if anyone could encourage you to beat your demons, it would be them.  The girl you married had her own vices.  Drugs knew no gender.  You divorced her with the condition that you would have sole custody of Vince and Christian.

"It takes a village to raise a child" proved true with Vince and Christian.  You had the help and support of your family in raising your sons.  Your sisters tended and cared for them as they did their own.

You came to work in the family construction business with your dad and brother. Your drugs were a constant source of contention.  There would be mornings you wouldn't show up for work without calling and I would drive to your house in Springville, worried with what I would find when I got there.  When I would either find you drugged or sleeping off drugs, I would become angry.  I would say all the things I thought might shock you into recognizing what you were doing.  I would look for your drugs to flush down the toilet.  I would call the doctors telling them not to prescribe pain pills for you.  I would call the pharmacies and tell them you were an addict and not to fill any pain medicine prescriptions.  Your addiction was constantly on my mind.  What could I do?  What could I say?  Who could I get to help?  From daylight to sunset, your problem had become mine.

I had become co-dependent.

-to be continued-

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Daren's Story - Chapter 8

I was afraid the first time you left the house.

"We can't keep him trapped in the house." Danny said.  "He can't stay inside forever."

I knew he was right, but I was so afraid of what might happen if you did leave.  And my fears were not groundless.

The first time you were with your friend "G".  You were at his place when the two cops came in.  They both had their guns cocked and you told me the one I remember so clearly had his gun at your head.  Just at that time "G's" mother walked in.  I don't know what the entire conversation consisted of, but they ended up leaving.

The next time you were walking home from Regal Bowling Alley.  You had cut through Moose Park when the same two confronted you again.  Once more they had you down on the ground with their guns cocked.  The same one again with the barrel of his gun against your head.  Mr. Olsen (a former policeman who lived in our neighborhood) happened to walk by and asked what was going on.  Again, I don't know the extent of the conversation, but Mr. Olsen told them he knew you and would see you made it home.

I didn't know at the time, that when your dad left the house at night, he would follow some of your friends.  When they arrived at their destinations where drug parties were taking place, he would kick the door in.  This happened three times.  Each time he would say to those attending, "Tell those SOB's that are providing the cocaine, if they harm one hair on my son's head, I will kill then.  I've got a damn good gun and I'm a damn good shot and I'll blow their asses away."

Next, Danny was driving down 820 North Street, when he noticed the two policeman following him.  He pulled his truck to the side of the road and motioned for them to pull over.  They pulled up behind him and he got out of his truck and walked back to their car.  I don't know if they were shocked when he said "I just want you to know, I have a 357 Mag in my truck.  I carry it with me all the time and I'm a damn good shot.  If you every point your gun at my boy again, I'm gonna kill you.  Yes.  I will probably end up in prison, but you are gonna end up dead."

Each night, when Danny left his heavy equipment in Heber he would go through the same procedure.  He would place a piece of cellophane tape across the cap on his fuel tank.  If anyone hampered the cap, he would know.   One morning when he checked out his trencher, the tape had been broken.  He drained the fuel out before he started the machine to find that someone had poured sugar into the fuel tank.  Had he started the machine with the sugared fuel in it, the engine would have been ruined.  He knew we couldn't go to the Provo police, so he drove to Park City and talked to the county sheriff.  He told him everything that was going on.  The company your dad had the contracts with were headquartered in Park City.  The sheriff's office planted one of their own as a secretary in their office.

Your dad came home one night and said "Do you want to go watch the drugs come in?"

Looking back, I laugh at myself for saying "Yes."  What in the world was I thinking.  But I did, so we drove down to the Provo airport.  At that time, there were a lot of rushes, bushes and trees around there.  Danny pulled his truck off onto a little dirt lane that hid us from everyone.  He parked with the nose of the truck facing the runway and we sat there for what seemed like hours.  It was late and dark as we sat and listened to the sounds of the lake with the breeze blowing through the rushes.  Pretty soon however, a small plane landed and out onto the runway to meet it went a Provo police car.  So much was going through my mind, that I never asked Danny how he knew that drop was going down that night.  That would be the only time he confided in me until much further down the road.

He came home one night and asked where the CB radio was that we had given you the previous Christmas.  I told him it was still in the box in the bottom of his gun case.  He said he was going to use it.  I didn't question him, but I did wonder why, after all the time I had been with that man, he now would need a CB radio when he had never needed one before.

I would soon find out.

-to be continued-

Daren's Story - Chapter 7

You and I talked a lot those days when you spent most of your time inside the little red brick house we called home.  But I understand now, I only wanted to hear what you had to say that reflected you as the victim.

You told me that the first person to give you drugs (marijuana) was a Boy Scout leader.  I wanted you to tell me his name, but you wouldn't.  I was so angry.  Someone I felt a mother should be safe in entrusting her son to, had unlocked a door that would enable demons to enter.  I wanted to confront him; to yell and scream and threaten and then to follow through with my threats.  I asked and asked, but you said you couldn't nark on anyone.

Nark.  How I hated that word.  How I hated that you and your friends would feel it was nobel to not tell on others or each other.  How you felt that being loyal to each other was what was right, even though that loyalty could ruin your own lives, could make you bleed, could make you die.  How had I gone wrong in my teachings.  Why had I not stressed to my baby, my boy, before he became a man that such loyalty should only be spent on that which is just...that which is right.  That to spend it on wrong, only made wrong grow until it would finally envelope you and smother you in its darkness.  On one hand I could respect your loyalty.  On the other I could see where it would destroy you.

You said your first experience with cocaine came when you were feeling at a very low point in your life.  Someone said "Come here, Whiting.  I have something that will make you feel better."  One hit, and you felt better.  One hit was all it took to lead you to addiction.

Why hadn't I recognized that the depression that was in our home could spread like a malignancy; affecting myself and my children.  I had walked through that period of time with blinders on, seeing only your dad's depression.  You and your brother and sisters made it easy for me to think all was well with you.  Your laughter was contagious, your senses of humor my saving grace.  I didn't realize that beneath the jokes and bantering might lie an unknown sadness.  It would be years before I would be able to understand mental illness, years before my beautiful functionally, dysfunctional family would claim we were the poster family for anti-depressants and that the chemical imbalances that some of my children would end up inheriting would only serve to make our family unique.  It would be years before I would realize that there was no way I could have known.  How could I know what professionals were just on the cusp of knowing then?  But I was your Mom.  "I should have noticed instinctively" is what my own guilt told me at the time.

"I owe them so much money!" You told me.

"Give them everything you have," I suggested.  "Give them your truck and everything else."

"It's not enough, Mom," you said.

It's strange how life works.  Had this been only a few years earlier, we would have had the money to help you pay this debt.  Would we have?  Right or wrong, I have no doubt your dad would have paid whatever it was you owed.  But, we were at a point now where we were struggling to stay financially alive.  We didn't have the money or access to any.

Your dad had to go to work.  He couldn't let the new contracts he had just acquired lapse.  He would get up very early in the morning and drive up Provo Canyon to Heber City to install television cable.  The road leading to Heber at that time was a traditional canyon road.  It was winding and narrow and at places had mountains directly to one side and Deer Creek Reservoir to the other.  He left his equipment parked in Heber to keep from hauling them every day.

He started acting strange, and I was very worried.  Was the stress of everything getting to him again?  He would leave the house when he got home from work and would be gone for hours.  When he was home, he wouldn't let any of us open the door if anyone knocked.  He would put on his work gloves and walk to the door carrying his 357 Magnum.  When we ate dinner, the 357 would sit on the counter top next to where he sat.  He took the gun with him whenever he left in his truck.

Your dad had never told you or your siblings that he loved you.  I was the only one he said those words too.  He was not one to demonstrate affection; no hugs, no kisses (except to me.)  However, his actions were about to show just how much he did love you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Daren's Story - Chapter 6

The reason I called the police from the 7-11 was so they wouldn't be able to trace the call back to us.  I had only been on the phone for a few minutes so I was surprised, confused and afraid when I had turned back onto our block and saw a police car sitting three houses down.  Two policeman were sitting watching our house.

It's strange how I can remember the dark haired one.  He wasn't very tall, maybe 5'9", medium build.  His hair wasn't real short, but well-cut.  It framed a somewhat square face.  He would usually be the one driving.  It was always the same two I saw cruising our street, or watching us through binoculars; binoculars  they would hide whenever anyone drove by.  When they weren't watching directly from our street, they would be up on Grandview Hill watching us from there.  They didn't know that we were watching them, watch us, through Danny's spotting scope.

I wondered how they had found out so fast.  I had given no names on the phone.  Only relayed the telephone number of the supplier.  But in the matter of minutes, these two policemen were there...watching.

You hadn't left the house for several days.  You laid on our bedroom floor curled into the fetal position, you were shaking.  You sounded so congested; hardly able to breath through your nose.  I thought you had come down with a bad cold or the flu so I called the hospital emergency room.  I told them you were coming off cocaine and seemed to have a very bad cold.  I asked if it would be okay if you took a cold remedy.  The nurse told me the symptoms were that of withdrawal.

I sat down on the floor by you and laid your head in my lap.

"I've made such a mess of things, Mom," you said.

"It's not the measure of a man to not have problems," I told you.  "It's the measure of a man on how he deals with the ones he has."

While your dad had suffered his depression, I felt like I couldn't see any light at the end of the tunnel.  I had never been to a psychic, or astrologer before, but I was looking for that light, so I went to a lady that did astrology.  Being a sceptic at heart, I didn't give her any information I felt would "plant" a response from her.  I gave her your dad's birthdate and time of birth, mine, and each one of my children's birth information.  That was all the information she had.  She took my children's computer printout and laid them one on top of the other.

"This is strange," she said.  "I have heard of this before, but I have never seen one."

"What is it?" I asked.  She went on to explain how each of your stars lined up.  I didn't understand what she was meaning.  It was far too complicated for me.

"So what does that mean, exactly?" I asked.

"Your children have a very special bond," she replied.  "They chose to come to earth as a "group".

I watched my children as they functioned through this difficult time in our lives and that bond was so evident.  There was no self pity.  It was more "Okay.  What do we do now."

Your two youngest sisters were not allowed to go anywhere without one of us with them.  If they even wanted to go two houses down the street, they would get in the truck and your Dad and I would take them.  We needed to know where your siblings were going to be at all times.  We had no idea of what those of the cartel you were involved in, would stoop to.  Our lives had become a movie...a mystery one that we didn't know the ending to.

Were we handling things right or had our actions made things worse?  I was beginning to wonder.

- to be continued -

Monday, February 11, 2013

Daren's Story - Chapter 5

We sit in the motel room until about five o'clock in the morning.  During that time your friends told us how deeply you had gotten yourself into the drug scene.  Not only were you selling to support your own habit, you were also selling to support the habits of your addicted friends.

I then understood your rationalization in your words "If keeping food on my friends' tables and clothes on their kids' backs makes me bad, then I'm bad."  You knew what you were doing wasn't right, so in some "right" place in your mind, you wanted to be right.  Your rationalization was misplaced my darling boy.  No matter how you tried to paint the picture, it turned out distorted...and in your heart of hearts you knew it.

You were in a lot of trouble.  When your friend took your truck for those two days, he also took the cocaine that was in it...$6,000.00 worth.  The suppliers wanted their money.  Honey, I can't even begin to realize how far you had gotten yourself into this mess.  There is so much I still don't know; so much you were going to tell me.  I know that this version I write, in no way will be complete.  So it will be what I witnessed, what your dad witnessed and what your siblings witnessed.  You were in bad trouble with bad people.

Sunday morning after we arrived back home from the motel, your dad and I met with your brother and sisters.  We told them everything we knew.  We told them you had promised to be home that day which you did.  You laid down on the floor in front of the fireplace and fell fast asleep.  Your dad told Mark and Shannon's fiance Robert to go stand outside with baseball bats.  If anyone tried to get to Daren they were to use them.  Car after car after car pulled up and time after time after time, Mark and Robert told them to go away.

Sheree and I went out to your truck and found the pager you used.  We wrote down every telephone number that came across the pager.

I called "M" and asked him who the supplier was.  He told me he couldn't tell me.  That if he told me, they would kill him.  "Okay, I said.  Tell the supplier we have Daren's pager and that we are taking down the numbers on it.  Tell him he had better stop calling.  He said he would do that.

We watched the pager and when the one telephone number stopped calling, we knew which one was the supplier.

I didn't dare use our telephone, because I was afraid the call would be traced.  Instead, I rode to the 7-11 and used the pay phone there.  I called the Provo Police and told them what was going on.  I told them I had the telephone number of the supplier and I gave it to them.

I went home and fixed clam chowder and waited for you to wake up.  When you did, we were all waiting for you in your Dad's and my bedroom.  We called you and you came back to find your family waiting to confront you.  When everyone had a chance to tell you how much you were loved and needed, they left the room.  I was there alone with you...tears flowing freely down my face.  I told you what had gone on while you had been sleeping.  You slumped to the floor and with tears rolling down your own cheeks you cried "Mom.  You don't understand.  They will kill me."

Daren's Story - Chapter 4

I heard the phone click as I hung it up.  It all made such un-perfect sense to me now.  You had lost so much weight and looked so run down.

I picked up the bible that I had been studying.  My scripture study had become a part of my everyday life.  Study...prayer...fasting had been my mantra in trying to heal my broken home.  I laid it down on the table and called to Shannon.  I told her I would be back, that I needed to go find you.

I pulled up in front of your apartment.  Your truck was there.  I was relieved first of all to know you were home and secondly, to know you had found your truck.  You had told me one of your friends had taken off in your truck and you didn't know where he was at.  He had been missing for a couple of days.

I honked the horn and one of your friends came out.  I told him to go tell you I needed to talk to you and you came out a few minutes later, opened the passenger door and climbed in.  I turned in my seat facing you and placed my hand under your chin, turned your face to mine, and gazed into your eyes.   How had I missed it?  Why hadn't I seen before what I was seeing now?  My son's beautiful eyes that had once sparkled with life now had a dull haze.  His beautiful tanned skin now took on a gray pallor.  It was like I was looking into a face of a skeleton.

"Daren," I said.  "I know you are doing cocaine."

"Mom.  Why are you saying that?  I'm not doing coke." You replied.

"Don't lie to me, Honey." I said as I ran my hand up your cheekbone.

"Well, if keeping food on my friends' tables and clothes on their kids' backs makes me bad, then I am bad," yo said.

"What are you talking about, Honey?" I asked.  "That doesn't make sense."

You turned your face from me, not wanting to look me in the eyes any longer.

"Go home, Mom."  You said.  "I'll come home tomorrow."

"Promise me?" I asked.

"I promise." You replied.  "I love you, Mom."

"I love you too, Honey." I said as you climbed out of the car and walked toward the house.  You turned to watch me as I pulled away from your apartment.

I drove back home, with my heart breaking and my mind confused.  Danny was just getting on his feet again.  This was his first day back to work in his company.  What was this news going to do to him.  "Maybe I shouldn't tell him." I thought to myself.  My mind argued back "You've got to tell him."

I entered the house, went in my bedroom, locked my door and crawled up in the middle of my bed.

I had been asked by the Vietnam Veterans of America to speak in behalf of the Veterans on KSL radio a week before.  When I arrived home, a bouquet of red roses waited for me.  Clinging to one of the roses was a Pink Panther character along with a note from you.  "I'm proud of you, Mom."

I held the Pink Panther in my hands and cried until tears seemed to run dry.  I was in so much pain feeling that somewhere, somehow, sometime, I had let you down.  I hadn't been there for you.  Then I became angry with God.  "Why?  I cried.  I've been doing what I thought You would want me to do.  I've been praying and studying and fasting.  WHY?!!"

The voice I heard was faint.  It didn't come from the outside of my head into my ears.  Instead, it was a voice I heard that spoke to me inside.  It was not an imaginative voice.  It was as real as anything I had ever heard before.  It was a voice that said "Daren will be instrumental in the work of the Lord."

I wish I could say that with those words, my heart was healed.  But it wasn't.  My mind hurt, my heart ached and my spirit was torn as I waited for your Dad to come home.

He arrived just before dark.  He took one look at me and said "What's wrong?"

"I need to talk to you," I said.  "Can we go for a ride?"

Your brother and sisters were busy with things that they usually did.  Shannon was home with Rainee and Haley so your Dad and I left to talk.  I told him about the telephone call and how I had come to see you.  He was quiet for a while and I worried about him.  Finally he said "I want to go talk to the woman who called you."

We went home, and I called her back and told her we wanted to meet with her.  She said you had been good friends with her son for a long time and that she loved you and was so very worried about you.  That it had been her son who had confided in her.  She handed the phone to her son, who, for the purpose of his confidentiality, I will call "A".

"Hello," he said.

"Hello.  This is Daren's Mom.  Daren's dad and I were wondering if we could come and talk to you for a while."

There was a pause on the other end of the line when "A" finally said, "I don't think that's a good idea."

"We won't take long," I assured him.  "We just need to talk to you about Daren."

"You don't understand," he replied.  "If they know I am talking to you the would kill me."

My mind tried to tell me "A" was exaggerating, but my heart told me he wasn't.  I relayed to Danny what was being said.

"Tell him to go get a motel room," Danny said.  "Tell him I will pay for it.  Have him call us tonight and we will meet with them in the middle of the night."

I asked "A" if he would agree to that and he said he would.  Danny and I went home.  We told Shannon what was going on and told her we needed to go out late.  She assured us not to worry about the other kids.  She and her fiance Robert would be there to take care of things.

At one-thirty Sunday morning, Danny and I pulled into a motel and went to the room "A" had told us to go to.  When the door opened "A" was there along with "M", another one of your friends.  The story we would hear, would prove to us how seriously the drug problem was in our little community, and how horribly deep you had been pulled into it.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Daren's Story - Chapter 3

You grew so fast from the little black-haired baby I gave birth to, to the tow-headed boy who couldn't wait to see what was around the next corner.  You grew into such a handsome young man who had your sister's friends falling in love with their brother.  You had a certain charisma and class that was hard to put a finger on.  I once heard the definition of "class" was the ability to make others feel comfortable around you.  This definition would define you.  Everyone liked being around you.  You were so easy to talk to and now I recognize that it was because you were never judgmental.  It didn't matter if you were with the rich or the poor.  Your sister Sheree explained it this way.

In high school, the classes of students were separated by the wings of the school.  There was A Wing, B Wing, C Wing and D Wing.  In each wing a certain stereotype of students would gather and most would feel  comfortable only in "their wing".  You however, had friends in each wing.  From the intellectuals of A Wing to the "stoners" of D Wing, you were able to mingle and fit in.

Your sister Susan would explain it.  There could be a man driving a Mercedes and you would be driving your pickup truck but people would gravitate toward you.  You were my wonderful, handsome boy, so full of potential.

I wonder what day it was I missed my chance.  What day did I miss my chance to recognize you had detoured off the road and was headed down one that was full of shadows and storm clouds. 

I remember our talk...well my talk as it were.  I talked hoping you were listening.  I warned you of smoking.  I told you about my brother Henry who had died of cancer of his mouth.  He wasn't a heavy smoker, but it didn't take being a heavy smoker.  He noticed a small sore in his mouth; one that wouldn't go away.  He went to a doctor and they lanced it to drain it, but it only became worse.  He was taken from Wyoming to Salt Lake City where they performed surgery and during the procedure inserted a tube in his throat so he could breathe.  Later, the cancer would continue its cruel journey around the tracheotomy hole, eating away his entire throat.  He would die when he was only thirty three years old.

I warned you about drinking alcohol.  My father had been an alcoholic and even as a very small girl I recognized what behavior drinking brought about.  I told you I remembered one day when I was three years old and I was with my mother as she stopped at a bar on the south side of Green River, Wyoming to get some beer for my dad.  She left me sitting in the car as she went in, and when I saw her returning to the car with the beer, I locked all the car doors not letting her in.  After a while, through pleading and threats, I opened the door and cried "I don't want my daddy drinking that bad stuff."  When we arrived home, Daddy asked why I had been crying and Mama told him.  He said if I didn't want him drinking, he wouldn't drink.  He threw the beer into the Green River by our house. 

You already recognized  how drinking influenced your dad and knew it was not for the better. 

How silly I was to think that one talk would be sufficient; that I had covered all my bases that would prevent you from delving into chemicals that would harm you. 

I was so naive.  To me, drugs were something only hippies used in California.  Surely, drugs would never make their way to Provo.  I had no idea they had already made their way across the country and had already taken hold in "Happy Valley" Utah.  I would soon learn the error of my thinking.  Drugs in Utah were very real and would soon threaten my family.

You had gotten a job and decided it was time to leave home and move in with some of your friends.  We knew your friends.  Some of them belonged to the same ward we belonged to in our church.  There was the bishop's son and first counselor's sons and others that had hung around our house, sleeping over and raiding our fridge for years. 

Times were hard in the Whiting household at that time.  Your dad was having a hard time in his construction business dealing with a partnership he had with his brother.  Along with Geneva Steel shutting down, causing a local recession, and a chemical imbalance your Dad already had, he was plunged into a deep depression.  At that time, depression or any other emotional problem was considered a mental problem and not a physical one.  The medical world was just sitting on the edge of a breakthrough that would soon recognize that a chemical imbalance in the brain would cause the neuro-transmitters not to function correctly, thus causing a myriad of emotional problems...problems that were in fact a medical one.  At that time, however, that door had not been opened and there was limited help for anyone with such an imbalance. 

Depression in a way is contagious.  It has a way of affecting everone, as it did with all those living in our little red brick house. My saviors would be my seven children who for whatever reason held on to your sense of humors.  Through all the darkness, you would manage to bring on the sunshine.  Silly little things you did would lift weights off my shoulders.  Your midnight Naugle's run for example.  Naugle's was a Mexican Drive-through restaruant that was opened all night.  I would be up waiting up for all of you to get home and when the last one of you would walk through the door, you would jump in the car and take off to Naugles to get food and bring home.  We would sit and watch David Letterman on TV and eat french fries in green sause.  I know, I wasn't be a very good mother by promoting correct eating habits, but it was such a comfort being there with all of you.

When you made the decision to set out on your own, I couldn't find blame with you.  It had been a while since happiness had made an entrance at home.  I wanted you to be happy and to make a way in your life.  You would visit often and I could tell that you were not eating your Mom's cooking anymore.  You had lost weight.  "He's must be burning the candle at both ends," you Dad said once. "He looks worn out."

Your dad was coming out of his depression and had just acquired work installing television cable in Park City.  He was on his first job that day I received a telephone call.

"Mrs. Whiting?" A voice answered as I said "Hello."

"Yes."  I answered.

"Please don't hang up on me." The lady on the other end said.

"I don't hang up on people" I replied.

"Do you know your son is killing himself with cocaine?"  She asked.

My breath caught in my throat as my heart skipped a beat.

-to be continued-