Memorial Gathering for my Son Tristan

(Posted June 11, 2015)
My beloved son, Tristan, passed away on Saturday, June 6. He was only 19.

Tristan Parales on Mother's Day 2015
Tristan Parales on Mother’s Day 2015

Tristan was 14 when I was diagnosed with end-stage cancer. I got too sick for too long to be a decent mother. Without my knowing, he turned to drugs. I do not know how much of this was from the pain of hearing I probably was going to die, or from curiosity and a desire to explore his mind, or from growing depression, anxiety, and difficulty with focus, or from dealing with divorce. It most likely was a combination of factors.

After a few years of trying a variety of drugs, Tristan tried heroin.

I did not know this for a full year. Then he spent the next year deciding to get better and going in and out of treatment programs.

I tried so hard to help him, and to find help for him. Many prayed for him and were involved in his care, but we couldn’t find the right key to turn the lock.

Heroin addiction begins the first time someone shoots up. This addiction is one of the hardest things in the world to stop. Heroin is readily available and, from what I have been told, is cheaper than marijuana. When the police came to my home to notify me that my son’s body had been found, they mentioned that this type if scene is no longer uncommon.

During the coming years I will be considering what steps I will take to help stop this epidemic among our vulnerable youth. The price families pay can be devastating.

In the meantime, I will continue to practice what I have been learning in psychotherapy, Nar Anon, and Codependents Anonymous. My sponsor has encouraged me during this time to keep my side of the street clean. I worked hard to identify and stop my enabling, codependent behaviors. These are insidious and can be difficult to see without outside assistance.

My inner work did not save my son’s life, yet I am not living with the terrible guilt others might experience in a similar situation.

The grief, however, is great.

I would love to have a written copy of any happy or funny recollections you have of Tristan.

Instead of flowers, if you feel so inclined, I would prefer, for myself, plants to grow in the garden of the home on which I have a pending contract. The closing is June 29, so I am not yet ready to receive plants. A contribution of a plant in memory of Tristan, after I move in, would be a cherished gift and would help with healing. One of the songs Tristan shared with me that we both enjoyed was “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol. At the time, Tristan was deeply in love with his high school sweetheart. Anytime I hear the song I think if him and how happy he was with her. I am so grateful he got to experience this. The song includes the phrase, “Show me a garden that’s bursting into life.” My new home already has a garden, and it’s bursting with life. He never saw it. I want this garden to be my healing memorial to him, bursting with life, including plants from those who remember and care about him.

I have lost a great love, with a great soul, yet I am grateful for the time I had with him, and for all I learned and will continue to learn from being his mother. I think Rumi wrote something like the anguish of the heart opens the gateway to God.

Tristan now has the ultimate healing. Eventually I will find peace and the gifts such a nightmare can bring.

(Tristan’s memorial service was at Tufts Schildmeyer Funeral Home, 129 N. Riverside Dr., Loveland, OH 45140, http://www.tuftsschildmeyer.com/_mgxroot/page_10718.php )

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