BY: Jennifer Stottlemire
I took Jackson to volunteer alongside of me at a Hope Over Heroin Columbus fundraiser.
I realized quickly that time was not all we would be giving.
We went out to where the people are.
The area of town where this disease is as clear as the glow of the stop lights; as noticeable as the cracks in the sidewalk.
The people living in the heart of the epidemic.
The children who live it too; as if it is all they know.
We sold t-shirts, though most couldn’t pay.
We passed out flyers; they were free and spoke a message we wanted them to hear.
We told stories of freedom.
And loved on the community.
I watched as families lined up for a free meal; snow cones and cotton candy for the kids as a treat.
I hid my tears behind my sunglasses, wondering “is this the only meal they will get today?” or “when will these children taste cotton candy on their tongue again?”
At one point I had to sit down and ask God why I was here.
Why did you give me this gift of sobriety? The gift of being able to relate to the hurting? The gift of empathy? The gift of wanting to help others? Why?
I can pick out a track mark; a drug deal; dope sickness and a high as quickly as I can pick out my car in the parking lot.
It hits my heart hard and I have to catch my breath; take a moment to sit.
My soul aches.
They ask for help and I can’t give them a quick enough answer.
I have a solution to offer, but they want it now with no wait. Oh, but it takes work, others and faith. And it takes time.
They shake from the pain; from the fear; from the drug.
They walk away quickly when prayer or God are mentioned.
I’ve been there. I really have. I understand.
I tell them that, but I fear they don’t believe me.
Today I wear a diamond on my finger and drive a new car….they don’t believe me.
At one point the lines got shorter and the crowd got smaller.
Me and Jackson sit to play a game of hang man.
He goes first, writing a dash for each letter.
“Go mom. You go first.”
A few missed letters later and I clearly make out what Jackson wanted me to guess:
“Hope over heroin.”
The answer to the game; the answer to the mission.
My boy; so familiar with the life that we live today and the purpose we walk.
My boy; as familiar with the word “heroin” as he is “Star Wars.”
But he is familiar with another word: Hope.
He’s familiar with the word HOPE!
Yeah he’s seen it.
He’s felt the pain.
But he’s also seen the work; the dedication to survive and thrive.
He’s seen faith grow.
He’s seen how to give back.
And even more, he’s a part of it.
As hard as it can be to trust that God is putting you on the front lines for a reason.
As hard as it is to hear Him say “you can do this!”
As much pain as you endure as you carry out the mission; the reward of knowing your child is part of the solution today is priceless. There is hope over heroin; there is hope over addiction.
If you don’t believe it, for now, just believe that I believe it.
Don’t give up.
About the Author: Jenn, is a family-focused former teacher who just recently made a complete career change by entering the recovery field as a Behavioral Health Technician Supervisor for women. Writing is something that she became passionate about through her own recovery from drugs and alcohol; using it as an outlet and tool to cope with the varied emotions and experiences of addiction and recovery. Jenn and her husband David who is also in recovery and son, Jackson live in Columbus, Ohio where they enjoy watching movies, cooking, cheering on the Buckeyes, having an active spiritual life and just enjoying the simple things that they once took for granted. The recovery world is their new world and they welcome all who desire recovery! To God be the glory….