Ian’s Story

IAN – Forever in My Heart

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My son, Ian, died on February 28, 2021, at the age of 28, of an accidental drug overdose. Ian was a great kid growing up. Always joking, and so full of energy. He wanted to do new things, go to new places and loved our family vacations. He would share his adventures with others. Ian was a good student. He received his Black-Belt by the age of 14. He worked out and was on the football team in High School. He was voted onto Prom Court. He was a kindhearted soul with a one-of-a-kind personality. Ian enjoyed reading, gaming, and playing his guitar. He had so many friends and family that loved him, but very few knew of the struggles he was battling.

The Medical Examiner found he had multiple drugs in his system, and believed he took some sort of “designer drug” that also contained Fentanyl, which killed him. I had heard he occasionally took Xanax… he said it helped him to sleep. Ian’s main struggle was with alcohol. He was becoming depressed and sought help from counseling. When Ian was 24, he voluntarily entered a Rehab facility to get sober. It was great to have him back. Our loving, funny, intelligent son, and he had a plan to stay sober. That quickly fell apart after he returned to same environment he left before Rehab. He was back to the same habit of alcohol and now using cocaine. Then his counselor suggested a Sober Alternative Living Setting.

Ian entered the Sober Alternative Living facility when he was 25. There were times his father, Eric, and I thought he would drink himself to death. We think he took drugs that kept him awake all night. We couldn’t wait for him to get into this facility. We would have moved mountains to help Ian. After this Rehab, Ian remained sober and drug free for over a year, with one brief relapse. We thought he was going to make it.

When Ian told us he was leaving the Sober Living facility, both my Husband and I became worried and afraid. Ian explained he thought he could have a drink or two, just like “regular people”, that he could control it himself. Then he moved into his own apartment with another friend in recovery. Things were going pretty good for a while, although we knew he sometimes smoked weed. We warned him of the “slippery slope”. Then Ian’s Dad, Eric was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. Covid hit. Ian and his brother would come to the house every weekend to see their Dad. Eric hung on for three months in hospice care and passed away at home in July 2020. Both Ian and Brett helped with their Dads Funeral. Ian did the eulogy. He was so brave. But after Eric died, I was suspicious he was doing drugs again.

He started drinking again, sometimes heavily. He missed a few days of work here and there. He was seeing a doctor about his depression and was put on antidepressants. That December his roommate moved out after a psychotic break and then took his own life two months later. Ian was spiraling out of control after that. He was trying so hard not to drink. He would try to go to the gym after work instead of buying a bottle of Gin. But one weekend he got so drunk and out of control, I thought about taking him to the hospital. He got through it, apologized, and talked about getting help somewhere. I agreed. I prayed every night.

Ian called me the day before he died, and I could tell he had been drinking. I was planning to pick up Ian the next day for his brother’s birthday dinner. I said, “be ready and don’t be drunk”. He promised he’d be fine and signed off “I Know. Love ya, Mama”.
The next day he didn’t answer my texts or calls. I thought I might find him passed out drunk, maybe unconscious. But never did I think he’d be dead. I found him in his apartment on the living room floor.

He was gone. The rest is a blur, surreal. I miss him with every fiber of my being. Brett, his brother, and I support each other. I’m grateful Eric didn’t have to experience what Brett and I have. Our family was so close. Ian and Eric are together now, watching over us, giving us signs of hope. Hope that we will see them when our journey through life here on earth is completed. Signs that we will be together, with them, in spirt and essence.
Ian was such a special person. He could talk to anyone, strike up a conversation and make them feel at ease with his genuine smile. He would always say “Hi” to everyone… strangers, and get to know people by name, everywhere he went… the bank, local restaurants and stores. He always believed the best about people and would find some common ground to relate to. He was also an adventurous soul. His favorite job was when he worked for the Geneva Zip Line as a tour guide. He loved downhill skiing, water skiing, rapid water kayaking, biking, hiking, camping…so much life. He is forever in our hearts with such sweet memories.

After Ian’s death my family and best friends would help me through my most difficult days. They loved Ian as well. I have found the GRASP group to be very cathartic in helping me get through some of my mixed emotions. It is comforting to be among people who have been through the same grief, to hear their stories and feelings and how they cope and move forward. I am looking forward to Ethan’s Run and feeling the support of all those attending.
Forever in my heart – Mom (Sally)

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