On Valentines

On Valentines
February 20, 2018 Heather Starbuck

Last week marked a very difficult milestone for me. Valentines Day. Matt and I never celebrated Valentine’s day the typical way.. with a fancy dinner, heart shaped chocolate and the like. Matt was much more unique. Our first valentine’s day together, Matt simultaneously made me buckle over in laughter and swept me off my feet. He had to work late at the store that night, and we had just recently started dating so he was nervous of coming off too strong, I didn’t personally have any expectations at all.

Matt rolls through the door with a massive grin plastered across his face, carrying a huge box. In it, was a LARGE sampling of my favorite guilty pleasures that he must have been taking notice of watching me the two months that we were roommates… before he mustered up the courage to make his move. A five pack of mac-n-cheese, three boxes of Cheese Nips (NOT CHEEZE ITS), a box of my preferred sav blanc bota box, two pints of frozen caramel and sea salted caramel gelato (which I’d only purchased once in our house), Toblerone, rounded out with a bouquet of lilies.

He was truly the silliest, most light hearted person I’ve ever known. With Matt, it was all about the small things and he made me feel not only more loved but also more understood than anyone ever could. What I would do to spend another Valentines with Matt eating Cheese Nips, or getting burritos and margs, or making elaborate dinners for four hours straight jumping up and down to the Grateful Dead. What I would do.

This Valentines was quite different. First one without my Matt. I received a call from his mother that morning, pretty much the only thing pulling me out of bed. Her letter to Trump had gone a bit viral across Facebook and the local news outlet in Fayetteville wanted to cover it in a segment that night. In it, she tells her story of Matt’s years in addiction, the hope she finally found when he moved to Colorado and was opioid free, and the ultimate shattering day we lost our dear Matt. At the end, she pleads “for police detectives, prosecutors and judges to be better able to investigate, charge and more severely punish each dealer/pusher with homicide and each demon be taken off our streets”. In another post, when I’m ready, I’ll share the hopeless experience I had with the drug pusher who both started, and ended Matt’s opioid addiction. He was a predator, and he ultimately killed Matt. Yet with current regulation and laws in place he is able to walk the streets free, preying on others, and shattering more lives.

Carrie’s letter was one of thousands across the US, from mothers of children lost to the opioid pandemic. I have since joined some of the advocacy groups of these mothers and am inspired every day by these fierce mama bears. While they have yet to hear a real response from the White House on their Valentines campaign, I know they will continue on. If there is one thing our policy makers should realize quick, angry mothers are not to be ignored.

There’s nothing like the feeling of seeing your home videos… that were supposed to be used at our wedding, Matts 50th birthday, to embarrass our kids… on the news for something so tragic. Matt’s segment is very hard for me to watch, but I’m glad the issue is getting coverage and they show what a full life Matt had built before relapsing.

Below are some of the articles that have covered this campaign. Please share, perhaps if it continues to get circulation, the White House will finally acknowledge the pleas of these many families.

Matt’s Letter: 4029 News Fayetteville

Berryville Mother: The Winchester Star

Sue Kruczek: ABC News

Rachel Behrens: WMUR9

Kathy O’Keefe: NBC DFW

As I gear up for my trail, I am learning more and more about not only the massive efforts people are making, and having ignored, but also the extent that stigma plays against efforts to enable recovery and stop the epidemic. What I know is, at a rate of 174 per day, 1,218 per week and 63,519 per year, we are losing our young loved ones by epic proportions and it has to be stopped. It is a travesty that we as a nation are letting this happen with a turned cheek. I hope on my walk, I can do my part and generate at least an ounce of compassion, awareness and love for those struggling with this and their families. And I want to personally thank all the brave mom’s out there who participated in this campaign – keep doing what you do, you will be heard and you will make a difference.

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