May 3, 2008
On April 25, 2002, I was awakened by the doorbell at 4:00 AM. Any parent knows that nothing good comes from a doorbell at 4:00 AM… ever. It was the Brick police. They came by to let me know that our daughter, Chelsea Marie had been found in a gas station parking lot in Elizabeth New Jersey, not breathing. Someone had called 911. She had been taken to Trinitas Hospital and placed on a respirator. She had accidentally overdosed on heroin and Ecstasy.
Eight days later she died in ICU. She never regained consciousness. She passed away in the arms of her mother Debi, her brother Michael, and me, her dad. 2160 days have gone by, and we still struggle every day. Our lives have gone on. That didn’t seem possible at first, but one of the first major lessons I learned about tragedy and grief was that the world keeps spinning, no matter what. So our lives have gone on.
I like to think that Chelsea can still hear me. I talk to her all the time. I like to think that she wishes this never happened; that she feels this was all a terrible and stupid mistake. But I’ll never know for sure in this life time if she hears me or feels anything. So my life goes on.
Another huge lesson I’ve learned is that we are not alone. People lose loved ones all the time. And parents lose children far too often. On this sixth anniversary of our beloved Chelsea Marie’s death, I ask…plead…beg all you lovely, impetuous, impulsive and irresponsible sons and daughters to listen…
You are loved and cherished more than you can possibly imagine. Your parents, siblings, and friends NEED you in their lives.
Your body is not immortal.
Your body is not invulnerable.
Please don’t do anything irrevocably stupid.
Try to celebrate life without risking it.
Ask for help if you are depressed. Sometimes we’re blind and deaf.
Take care of your friends. If they can’t or won’t ask for help, then maybe it’s up to you to ask for them.
Drive CAREFULLY! You’re operating a lethal weapon.
If the driver of the car you’re in is acting like an idiot, don’t be afraid to get out of the car. We’ll come get you.
The list goes on and on. I’m sure there are bereft parents out there who would like to add words of advice. The bottom line is this… if you leave us, our hearts will be broken for the rest of our lives.
Please grow old with us.
We love you madly.