Posts Tagged ‘cold turkey’

This has been a week filled with momentous occasions. On Tuesday, our daughter Katelyn turned 21 years old (her first baby is due next month). On Wednesday our son Patrick turned 15 years old (he’ll be driving this summer), and on Thursday, both my Father-in-law, and his mother, celebrated birthdays as well (Grandma is in her nineties and still lives in her own home). To be sure, each one of those events was significant in its own right. But despite their importance, it may have been a phone call this morning (i.e. Friday) that provided the most profound moment of the week; and it came from a little heroin addict named Carleen.

Carleen isn’t just an “anybody” to us; she is a “somebody”. We first encountered her many years ago, at a church service. She was weeping at an altar, when my wife’s strong mothering instinct was stirred to help her. We’d not seen her before, but the dark circles around her eyes and the tattoos on her body gave us a clue that her journey hadn’t been easy. Turns out that Carleen had been born into a hellish situation, where she’d been ravaged by her own father (and the men he’d bring home) from the time she was a little girl. She was 13 years old and pregnant (by a man who eventually went to prison for attempted murder), when her father threw her out and branded her a “whore”. By the time we met her, she was in her twenties and raising two kids by herself.

The years since have been a roller coaster of triumph and tragedy. We were there as she reconciled with her daughter’s father, Noah and for the birth of her third child. We were there when Noah received the miraculous news that he’d get a kidney transplant; and when she graduated from nursing school. But then we also stood with her in court, as she testified to the abuse that precipitated the end of that marriage, and rushed to the hospital when her baby lost most of her arm in a lawnmower accident. We’ve watched her son get arrested repeatedly and battle drug addiction, and we got the call when Noah died in her living room during a visit with the girls. As she spiraled back into heroin addiction it has been excruciating to watch her life unravel, including the loss of the nurse’s license she worked so hard to get.

At Christmas, she felt as though God reached out to her and sent some wonderful strangers to bless her family. And she resolved, once again, to try to get clean in the New Year. In recent weeks, she’s been trying to kick the heroin cold turkey, because going to rehab could cost her custody of her kids. She didn’t make it the first time, but she called us this morning to say that she was on day 4 without a fix.

I’ll admit that it’s not easy to battle the cynical thoughts about how likely she is to beat this thing. We’ve come too far and seen too much to be naive. To make matters worse, as I prayed this morning I had a vision of me preaching her funeral. It’s hard to say whether that is a picture of the future or just God’s way of reminding me what’s at stake. But either way, it’s tough. It’s tempting to try to protect your heart in these moments, but to do that would rob Carleen of the love she needs from us right now.

4 days may not seem like much, but it’s an eternity for an addict. I’m proud of my girl and we’re going to keep fighting for her as best as we know how. Tomorrow, I hope that we’ll get another call and be celebrating day 5. Please pray for our precious Carleen.


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