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  • Jayne Stearns

Today, Jesse Would Have Been 33

Updated: May 13

I opened my Facebook page a little later than usual today and my friend Kara's post Today you would be 33, was staring me in the face. It was the first thing I saw. The picture of her standing there in her living room with her son Jesse, their arms wrapped around each other smiling at the camera, both looking like they loved the world and it was loving them back. It's one of those life-is-good pictures. And worthy of a repeat look and a smile. But less than two years after this picture was taken, Jesse would be dead from a heroin overdose. And his mother, my friend Kara, along with her husband and family's hearts would be splintered into fragments.

I met Kara when we were both involved in an online support group for mothers of addicts. At the time, my daughter had entered her 4th or 5th time in rehab, and I asked that any members of the group who had the time or inclination to please send my daughter a card, note, or something...anything to show support for her decision. It was something us mothers did for each other occasionally. Kara, a nurse, crocheted colorful little 4" angels to send to people struggling in rehab, along with a note. So, she sent one to my daughter. For some reason, it was the right thing to send at the right time. My daughter broke down into tears when she got it, and she's carried it throughout her journey, even while living on the streets. 

Somehow she's convinced herself that as long as she has this angel with her, she will conquer her addiction, regardless of how many times she relapses until she gets there. I remember washing that dirty angel the last time she went into rehab. It was tucked into her back pocket, all bunched up, and almost unrecognizable to anyone who didn't know what to look for. so, I washed it and brought it to her at the rehab. 

She cried. 

That little angel provoked such emotion in my daughter, it's almost as if Kara crocheted some of her beautiful, compassionate, self into every strand of yarn. Every fiber. 

That's the kind of person Kara is. As I said, she's a nurse. But not just any nurse, she's an in-patient substance abuse treatment and who knows addiction from both sides. She hands out those little angels to all her patients, too. Her husband is a retired minister. It's clear that if anyone could have saved their son from addiction, it would have been them. But they couldn't. 

They measure their lives in Jesse's years now. Today, Jesse would have been 33.

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