How can a parent describe what it's like to lose a child? My son - a normal kid, from a normal family, living a normal life - like so many addicts, made a life-changing decision to try drugs. He didn't choose to be an addict, but it happened, and in a matter of 12 to 18 months he changed in unimaginable ways. From the son who was my friend and fishing buddy, to one who pawned my power tools; from a son with whom I shared a secret handshake, to one who threatened me with physical violence.
Before drugs Ryan loved to fish, play video games and surf the Internet, and he dreamed of becoming a pilot. Around age 13, Ryan was rewarded for his efforts at school with airtime in a Cessna. We repeated the reward and once flew over our house - I couldn't have been more proud watching him fulfill a dream.
As a graduation present Ryan and I went on a much anticipated Canadian Fly-In fishing trip - a trip we talked about and planned for several years. Even while fishing on the "middle of nowhere" Canadian lake, I knew I was losing him as drugs continued to take control of his life.
Ryan's eyes became lifeless and empty and he withdrew into his own world. Only occasionally would he show flashes of his former self. Despite all his family's efforts and love, we were losing him.
On October 20, 2007, Ryan was released from jail one day before his court ordered 14-month rehabilitation was set to begin. He never made it to rehab...he died that night from a heroin overdose.
I miss and love him more every day and will continue to fulfill my promise to him - to help others make more informed decisions about today's drugs and the insanity of drug use. I've created a Web site in his honor - promise2ryan.com.
Love ya Bud,