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.