Birth and Death

I still have a hard time listening to Adele’s “Someone like You”. I have a lot of pain attached to that song. I’m a little apprehensive about posting this blog entry, because it is such a deep rooted, painful memory, but I told myself that if I was gonna do this, then I wasn’t going to hold anything back. This disease, and the lifestyle of addiction is killing people. And families are being destroyed as a result.
I used the entire time my son was developing inside his mother’s womb. And without tarnishing anyone else’s name, I won’t reveal anything about someone else’s personal life. The Department of Child Services was involved in our lives, from the second he was born. I remember standing at the Hardee’s counter at the toll plaza on I-90 in Portage, when his mother came in, nearly bursting with pregnancy, 9 months growing. “Steve, we have to go.” Okay, I’m coming, lemme get my cinnamon roll, and were outta here.” I had been living in my grandmother’s Honda Accord for months now. Drifting. It was September 16, 2011. ” NO! We have to GO!” “NOW.” She said. The baby was coming, a baby we had neither planned, nor prepared for. I mean, who can prepare for bringing a new life into the world, while trying to support a 300 dollar a day habit? My father pushed the Accord to the limits as we zig-zagged our way through highway traffic, onto surface streets, through Lake Station, into Hobart, and toward St. Mary’s Hospital.
She sat in the back seat next to me, while my Dad piloted the bullet, and I prepared a thick gold shot. Her water broke. And I accused her of cheating, because the baby was almost a full month early. We enter the emergency side of the hospital, and I race inside to fetch a wheel chair. I wheel her in, we’re rushed to the back, her pants come down, the nurse checks her, and says, ” this baby is coming out, NOW!” The nurses rush her back with my father and I in tow. Chaos all around me. And I remember a fear I cannot even describe. Such a flood. It was almost like watching all the consequences of my past sin come to fruition in one paralyzing moment. And then he was born. A month early, and without a name. Without capable parents. Without anything. His mother gave birth to him in the wheel chair, didn’t even make it onto the hospital bed. And he wailed. And shrieked. I remember a numbness come over me that heroin never provided, but this numbing was accompanied by the worst sensations I’ve ever experienced in my life to this day. Those sensations were a physical manifestation of dread, fear, hopelessness, agony, grief, despair, self loathing, and woe. It was like the world actually stopped spinning for that brief moment in time so that God could personally brand this moment on my soul. “Are you happy with yourself, Herbert Stepherson?”
We were at the hospital for 3 days while she and my son were undergoing various screenings and it seemed like 3 seconds. But during those 3 days, or was it 4- I remember holding my boy, and looking into his deep blue eyes, mine no doubt, and He was so perfect. So shameless, and perfect. Healthy. Loving and innocent. And I stared at his eyes, and he nestled himself into his father’s arm, stretched, yawned, and fell asleep with the most perfect little sounds I’ve ever heard. And I lost it. The gravity of the earth, and the life I had been living amplified exponentially. I was sobbing uncontrollably, with gritted teeth, and an empty soul. How? Why? I wasn’t ready to be a father, I couldn’t even manage my own life, let alone the life of a new baby boy. Lucas David we decided would be his name. And to this day he is the greatest thing, I see now, that ever happened to me. The days passed with a blur of xanax, heroin, and grief, as we knew the inevitable was about to happen. We were going to have to leave the hospital without our child. Just thinking about that realization as it occured still makes my skin crawl. The time came, and we were asked to leave, and told that the foster parents would be there to pick him up, I still have never met them, but I am so grateful today for the temporary care they provided to my son until his grandparents were approved through the courts to take custody. Let me ask you something: Have you ever heard the emptiness of your soul in your ears? Have you ever felt the weight of the entire world bearing down on your every fiber? The wretched God awful feeling that was inside of me to this day, was something i would never wish upon my worst enemy. Utter despair. Hell inside me. I was dead. Oh, i had a pulse, and I was breathing, but in every other sense of the word, I was a corpse. Emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. My entire life had been shown to me in one 3 day period, and it was a mosaic of ruin. I was a loser. A dead beat. A waste. The smell of the hospital, the flourescent lights, the phones, the voices, the people’s eyes. All burned me in a place I had numbed for so long I forgot it was still there, my heart. My soul. As i made my way through the foyer and toward the exit, I new i was walking, my legs were moving, but they just felt like rubberized logs, carrying me toward a death sentence. This must be a similar sensation a man on his way to the gas chamber feels in his last seconds of existence. Before being extinguished. Euthanized.
The doors of the Accord opened, I saw mine open, but I don’t remember grabbing the handle, and we sat down. In the deepest of silences. The air in the car was thick with all of humanity’s darkest of emotions. Raw and uncut. We had to drive off. The high pitched whine of the Honda’s foreign engine came to life, and there was Adele. Singing her pretty little heart out. Someone like you. And in that moment, the part of the song where she sings ” don’t forget me” struck a chord inside of me that i didn’t know existed. It was my infant baby boy, Lucas screaming that to me. Inside my soul. Don’t forget me. And I broke. In a bad way.
The only thing that was going to take care of this experience, the only thing that would quickly and temporarily erase all of this was more dope. And so we went. Back toward more Hell. This was one of the darkest days of my then meaningless existence.

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