Tag Archives: heartbroken mothers

Addiction Like Cancer

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, Photoshops a collage to illustrate being lost in the wild woods of addictions and cancer.“How’s your daughter doing?”
“What’s your son up to these days?” I’m afraid to ask my friends. Because too often there’ll be a scrunching of brows over eyes suddenly filled with torment, followed by a torrent of emotion, the significant word finally gushing out – “addiction.”

“My daughter is….” “My son … heroin, meth, …addicted,” people who know I “lost” a child send me emails and personal messages online. Offline, I hear it going around the table during introductions at bereaved mothers’ gatherings. Almost every day there’s another heartbroken parent. Waiting for The Phone Call. Preparing for the worst. Aching. And OMG, I hear the pain.

I remember that pain. It isn’t so different from when your child has been diagnosed with cancer. Your heart sinks into your gut. And there’s little you can do to get rid of this scourge. You start wondering how you contributed to it, what was the something you did or did not do. You’re angry, sad, and ready-to-embrace-whatever-might-help scared.

Addiction, like cancer, is a deadly disease. Mostly, what I remember from plodding through the wilds of cancer, is fighting for my daughter, for her health, her life. Fighting and worrying. And loving. You love so hard it tears the breath and light from you.
“We will never be out of the woods,” one mother told me. And it’s true.
“You don’t want to be out of the woods,” I wrote her back. “Because then you’ll be in my neck of the woods.” There’s no more worrying here, but –

There’s nothing I can tell them. “I’m sorry,” I say, the same words people said to me when my daughter died.

The only thing that helps, either side of the forest, is knowing you are not alone. There are gazillions of us crying for our children, praying for our children, singing to the moon hoping our children know we will always love them. However they are. Wherever they are. Or are not.

If you are the parent of a child with an addiction, I humbly share your tears.


What do you do or say when someone is in pain over a loved one’s addiction?

Missing Boys

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, uses Photoshop to restore an old photo of her son as a toddler.

When you lose a child, every news article about missing children grabs your attention and then beats the breath from you. All week I was captivated by the story of the two missing teenagers in Florida whose capsized boat had been found, empty. I agonized for the families of the lost boy boaters. Two more heartbroken mothers.

Losing a child to the sea is different from losing a child to leukemia. I got to hold my daughter and watch as the part of me that could sing disappeared into nowhere. I waited, so still, like she might reappear. But wherever she was, her body was empty. The absence was so physical; I knew she was gone.

If you don’t see the vacant body of the one you love, it is difficult to convince yourself that he is not somewhere out there still. I look to the heavens and the night sky to talk to the daughter that I miss but no longer worry about. These other mothers will look to the sea as long as they live. They will wonder and worry the rest of their time about their missing boys.

Where are they now? This is the question bereaved mothers ask. And a mother who has not had to witness the vacancy of the body that housed her child will hold the hope that he is not dead. He is only missing.

And how different is that from the thoughts of the mother of a grown son off in the world? Where is he now? Where is the little boy who I chased on the beach, the toddler on my lap who gazed lovingly at my face as I read stories, the baby boy who only wanted to be held by me? Where has he gone?