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 look...like 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 him...to 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.