No contest

Sam Motsay did not vote in Election 2016; his first vote. I could not stand in the voting line with him and share his excitement, answer his last-minute questions before he entered the booth and then be with him after to share more of the same followed by a family dinner where it would have been discussed for more loving group commentary that would have had some part of laughter as chorus throughout. No that didn’t happen.

The thought of standing in line voting alone, without him, was enough to bring choked down cries that became stifled tears that streamed clear down my neck and also dripped off my chin while I soaked my shirt sleeve from wiping away what drops I could. It wasn’t that I couldn’t vote, it was that I just couldn’t. There was no conciliating what could not be.

I’d like to think that my son was not able to vote because of a purely bad decision but how many of those have we all made in our lifetime? My son was with two boys that did the same thing as well and they voted this election. So what else? I terrifyingly understand the new war on drugs. Drugs which we cannot keep from entering our country and harming our children. Last week two 13 year olds died the same as my son two years earlier. Although it’s no cure for what killed my son, the Narcan struggle is real, keeping people alive from heroin epidemic overdoses. We are losing a generation. A family with three sons has now buried all three as young men, with the third last week.

I have been a very private person most of my life. When my son died, yes, I wanted to run in the street shrieking as loud as I possibly could, kicking and hitting whatever I saw. When my son died and media knocked on my door, stood in court room hallways or attended engagements and asked for my comment, did I want to curse about how unfair life is in such devastation? Yes, I did. I think also of one of Sam’s dear friends who walked many times back and forth in front of our house crying that first summer. Lost, like we all were in the shock.

What could I do though? First, I stood on center stage with my son, Nick, beside me and I cried loudly with my words to educate: young people, adults, law enforcement, communities-at-large, then more with media, school administrators, government officials and agencies. With my family and friends, I started a nonprofit for awareness to try and save others from my pain by sharing it for common good. I left Corporate America and went to grad school to be a mental health counselor so I could try and help others whose journey is not what they wanted either. I focused my efforts towards legislative and support groups where I could aid positively.

With the two men who are today in jail from their involvement in my son’s death, I sat in so many court rooms for excruciating hours and over grueling months to see it come to an end. Even then, there was no end. I have forgiven to unbridle my heart; and I continue to when even true apologies never came. I know what happened to my son didn’t just happen to my son though. It happened to the sons and daughters of many; to good kids and good parents. Our rights taken from us overnight.

For reasons I still don’t yet know, I awoke the morning after the election with a hope I have not felt since my son’s death. It is a sense of hope that I have sought since his death though. Hope is organic I now can know. When it comes, I’ll embrace it for whatever possibilities to make this world better than it was for my son, Sam; better than it has turned out for me; better for what it can be for all including my son, Nick. I’ll try and do this while I cherish every memory and love in each moment. #muchlovetosam

The rest of what happened

As schools are getting back into session, a common question I recall among classmates and teachers was, “What did you do this summer?”  As it is back to school time, I am reflecting on what I did this summer as I am back out in the schools, too, from: the young men at Pendleton Juvenile Corrections; Center Grove elementary teaching staff; and in the coming weeks, again this year, Noblesville High School students.  And what stands out for me from this summer in my ongoing journey from devastation, doom and despair over the loss of my 16-year old son, Sam, to a relatively unknown synthetic drug last year is this:

This summer I appeared in court twice to testify in the drug dealing cases against the men that sold young teens what was described as Acid but in reality was the deadly synthetic drug, 25i-NBOMe.  My first testimony was July 20th, the day before my dad’s birthday, in Johnson County Court in Jordan Adamowicz’ case.  Jordan was a Center Grove student just like Sam before he dropped out of school having started with alcohol and marijuana in his early teens and becoming a juvenile offender with “benzos" as his drug of choice.  He’s tried rehab recently and he believes it has worked but in reality as the judge so plainly stated that day, it will take years to truly know if Jordan will be able to manage the impact in his life of his drug addiction.  The weekend Sam died, May 11, 2014, Jordan, then age 19, was only interested in purchasing his own “high” and in order to do that he needed to sell something to have money to sustain his drug habit.  That is why he sold what he thought was Acid to my son and his friends on Mothers’ Day eve.  Adamowicz testified he did not know that what he had sold was 25i-NBOMe.  The judge sentenced Adamowicz to prison time and a five year journey that at end is meant to provide him the opportunity to be a successful citizen because if not, he will assuredly spend more time incarcerated.  The simple truth of how our society mostly works with addiction today in the devastating aftermath of losing our son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, teammate, friend, classmate…

And the man involved with Jordan Adamowicz in getting the drugs and selling them, was Kyle Hazzard.  I did not testify in Kyle Hazzard’s court case.  He failed to appear at his court date earlier this year and a warrant was issued for his arrest.  The warrant was never served though as Hazzard who got the drugs from the Indy Southside dealer and along with Adamowicz delivered them to our subdivision and into Sam’s hands died on July 4th, at the age of 26, from drug poisoning.  I’m not aware if the substance that killed Kyle Hazzard has been identified yet.  What is certain though is yet another fatality occurred from drugs in a country struggling to find it’s way in how to treat and truly rehabilitate those suffering from what puts money in many pockets around our nation and our world.

The third man, Zachary Catron, made the drug that killed my son on Mother’s Day.  I testified in Marion County Court to the drug allegations against Catron on August 11th, the day before my 40-something birthday.  Zachary Catron, now 25, never made it passed 9th grade.  His parents’ divorced while he was in elementary school and he had trouble getting along with others and in school.  Eventually he turned to drugs to sedate his outwardly evident sufferings and inwardly stifled childhood pain.  He joined a gang and was a member for several years as perhaps his replacement family.  When Marion County Prosecutor Rick Frank asked Catron why he passed off the dangerous 25i-NBOMe as another illegal drug, Acid, there was awkward silence in the courtroom.  Finally, Catron mumbled, “I don’t know.”  And there in that crux that included silence and mumbling, this broken mother’s heart beat so fast and so hard that I was sure it was heard by all over the silence and mumbling of an answer that will in no way comfort me or those who love Sam.  As the judge sentenced Catron to 25 years that day, it did not bring our Sam back.

So what about Sam?  The 16-year old who was one month away from turning 17; an academic honors-student with a GPA over 4.0 and college plans to earn a degree in Finance; a high school Sophomore named a two-time Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference Scholar Athlete; the teen who had a family, friends and a welcoming home of faith.  On that fateful night Mothers’ Day eve, along with two friends, he experimented with something they thought was Acid, and from peers and social media would go quickly through their system and not be detected in a random drug test that they as athletes were subject to.  The three athlete-friends took the same drug that night and Sam died overnight from the poisonous dose of the deadly synthetic hallucinogen drug mixture made by Catron and for whom only Catron knew was 25i-NBOMe.

What did Sam think he would be doing with his life?  From his Statement of Faith that he created a year and a half before he died, he speaks plainly:
“I like to think of God as the one driving me in a car through my life.”
“And so I want to stay in the car with God driving me and let him lead me on the journey of life and I trust that he will forever be with me.”
“God is with me on my current stop, high school.”
“As I think about next stops, I see God with me at college where I will get my degree.  I know I will need God at all stops in my life.  Later I anticipate God will help guide me as I get my first job, get married and have children.”

Most devastatingly, those next stops as Sam outlined in his faith statement:  going to college, earning his degree, getting his first job, marrying and having children - are lost forever now for Sam.  But not only are they lost for Sam, they are lost too, for his family and for all those that love him and for all those that would have loved him.  #muchlovetosam #missyousammy