“365 days ago, you were found dead. Lying on the couch we had snuggled on hundreds of times.
But it was 365 days ago today you died.
I know because you texted me at 10:34 p.m., and I responded two minutes later…but you never responded back because it was too late.
You didn’t respond because that’s how fast fentanyl works.
You didn’t know it was fentanyl. You had somehow gotten Percocet. You didn’t know that you were going to die because of it.
You didn’t know that by making that choice, you would be leaving me here to pick up all the lost and broken pieces. And I know you well enough to know you wouldn’t have made that choice if you did.
Your death wrecked me.
It left me on my knees, struggling to catch my breath. It left me lost and broken. I spent this last year saying it hurt, but it didn’t just hurt. It killed me.
I still wake up in the night crying for you.
Your death….it made me angry and ugly and broken.
You made me something I had never been before.
You taught me to be kind…literally to everyone. A lesson I probably shouldn’t have needed to be taught, but you overlooked that.
You rolled down your window at stop lights and gave money to the homeless even when I told you that they would ‘just spend it on drugs.’
You were always quick to remind me how precious life is because you had been through so much more than I had.
You helped me live to the fullest.
So, I took your death, and my emptiness, and I made it everything I knew you would want me to make it.
You always told me I was the best nurse…and when you died, I wanted to quit healthcare all together and become a barista:
But….instead…. I work in addiction services now.
I wake up every morning and I help people struggling with addiction.
I hand out fentanyl testing strips, and needles, and Narcan.
I listen to stories, and more importantly, I tell yours.
I help people because I couldn’t help you, and that’s who you always wanted me to be.
I don’t use the word ‘addict’ or ‘junkie’ because of you.
I don’t send any of my angry, irritable, unruly patients away because…. you. And when they tell me they want to get clean; I believe them because…you.
Before your death, I was judgmental. I never wanted to work with addicts because other people needed (and deserved) my time and effort more.
I had this idea that I didn’t want to help anyone who didn’t want to help themselves.
Before your death, I still wanted to be the nurse who helped…. just not addicts.
And even though your death broke me, I think your death rebuilt me.
Your life and love and death made me the nurse (and person) I am today.
365 days ago, you died. And somewhere between then and now, I changed.
So maybe you’re struggling with addiction…. whether it’s you, or a loved one.
Or maybe you’re the person who drives by the homeless man on the corner and says, ‘Don’t give him any money, he’ll just use it for drugs.’
Or maybe you’ve never been personally affected by addiction…maybe you’re reading this and your blind-sided.
Whoever you are, wherever you are…be kind. We’re all fighting our own demons.
RIP Jamie R Minton, and RIP to the best parts of me you took with you. 01/01/1990-03/30/2019”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Betsy Hendrickson – Minton, 25, and a mother of 5. Follow her journey on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories from Betsy here:
‘I cried in my car for an hour today. I think, ‘I have NO idea why I became a nurse.’ I am dispensable…just a number on payroll EASILY replaced.’: Nurse says ‘remember no one’s out here taking care of me’
‘When he died, everyone reminded me ‘once an addict, always an addict.’ After 5 years sober, he bought a pill he thought was Percocet. I’ll never know why.’: Mom of 5 says ‘life after addiction can be so, so beautiful if you let it’
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