Wednesday , January 20 2021

From the chaos of addiction to the sadness of death, these mothers shared everything

MARLBOROUGH, Mass. "Mothers meet in a parking lot overlooking the white funeral home and watch how the mourners move to the chapel's doors – a familiar scene starting over again.

Sherill Juirer turned nervously to her steering wheel.

– Are we ready? she asks the other two mothers to lean on the window of her jeep.

The awakening starts with a stranger, another young man, devoured by the great American plague. These women spent almost two hours controlling his mother in the club, his thousands of members being bound by the same hell: They are the parents of the addicted dead, burdened with the unnatural act of burying their children with unprecedented American history.

"I'll stay in the car," says one mother. – I just can not get in.

"I understand," Cheryl assured her.

Sheryl, the leader of this unhappy reception committee, pulled out a sympathetic card from his purse. Not long ago she bought something in bulk and was stunned to discover that this was the last thing left.

Each card equals another set of parents, and their life is torn by the opioid epidemic. Many have refused to pay for treatment or raise their grandchildren at retirement age. Some of them are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The chaos of addiction consumes their lives. Then the chaos ended with a funeral, and the silence turned out to be much worse.

CROSSROAD: Lowell – A Boston 25 news in-depth report

Sheryl reads newspapers that hunt for obituaries and seeks social media to allow young people to invite them to the folder. You are not alone in the guilt and sorrow and regret and fury, it needs them all to know. It has become your own kind of addiction, a habit of soothing demons.

Her son, Cory Merril, overdose with heroin at 23 years in 2011, just when the crisis was turning into a catastrophe. He felt that drug use was a failure of morality and courage. Then much of America thought the same – this dependence was just a bad choice.

So, no, she had told Cory, she could not stay with her because she had not lifted it that way, but instead she had slept on a bench in the park.

Then he died alone and slowly arrived at the disgusting understanding that addiction was a disease he did not understand, and because he did not understand it, he could not save him. She did not even know she had to save.

Now this is her repentance: awakening after awakening, mother after mother, trying to save them the lonely torture that almost killed her.

Sheryl straightened the golden cross around his neck, smoothed beans, freshly painted chestnuts to hide the greyhounds, and left the car.

"This mother gave birth to this baby," she says. "When these doors are closed today and they put their son in the ground, it's not the end of it, that's just the beginning."


Earlier this week, four mournful mothers who formed the board of the non-profit organization Sheryl met at the pool in one of their homes in the suburbs of Wontham. The white sign was written in front of the grass, with the number 2069 printed in black. This is the number of killed opiate in Massachusetts for only one year, part of more than 400,000 people who died in the United States since the epidemic began in 1999.

Overdoses now kill more than weapons or breast cancer or AIDS each year. They kill more than the whole of the Vietnam War. They kill an average of 200 people a day, equivalent to 9/11 every few weeks. "An analogy that can sometimes attract people's attention is that it's like a plane full of passengers that collapses every day," one of the mothers suggested as the group tried to somehow describe the magnitude of their mission.

Yet these mothers feel that the world is getting tired of hearing about all their dead children.

They are campaigning by thousands across America to send President Donald Trump pictures of their children, all sent on February 10th to reach St. Valentine's Day. They expected the President to say or hear he heard them and would do something. They expected media coverage from the coast to the shore – that people would look in the eyes of their children and be so angry that they would march in the streets.

But there was no creep for them. On Valentine's Day, 17 people were shot dead at Marrie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, taking political and public attention. Sheryl grieves for parents who have lost a child there. But she did math and many people would die of drugs while this three-hour meeting aboard was over.

"Where is the indignation for us?" She asks. "Our children are still dying, and the only thing I can do is try to get the pieces for mothers after they do it."

The official name of the organization is "Sharing Team". But she usually just says, "My mothers."

When this group started on Facebook three years ago, there were only seven members, all mothers near her home in Marlborough, Mass. Then another parent and another joined, as overdoses became the leading cause of the death of young Americans, for the first time in a century, they reduced the total life expectancy of the country three years in a row.

Now Sheryl, 60, begins every day at dawn in his chair, before working part-time as a receptionist in a church, studying a 25-page document located in one place listing the hundreds of team members and details their kids. Some of her list have lost two children of drugs. One lost three. One lost four.

On Sunday afternoon, Cheryl received a call from a mother who had already buried an addicted son, and she screamed incomprehensibly. Sherill went to her house to find out that her second son was overstated in the bedroom above. The Paramedics were still there and Cheryl held that mother while they were carrying his body in the coroner truck.

Many parents of the dead try to direct their sorrow to change. The nation knows how to correct it, they insist; only the will is lacking. "Let the drug addicts die," they heard people say that although the American Medical Association, the American Society of Drug Addiction and Surgeon, determined dependence as a chronic brain disease which, like some cancers and diabetes, is fed by a mixture of genetics, behavior and the environment. The surgeon notes that, unlike those with cancer or diabetes, only about 10% of those with addiction receive effective treatment.

This coalition of mothers believes that the epidemic is developing very much like AIDS, and society is indifferent to people who are believed to have brought death to themselves. This disease, killed with thousands, until the masses began to protest.

So these parents testify to Congress, tell their stories at school high schools, and cry in local TV news. They pay attention to rallies, warning that every family can be next, and see crowds filled with people who have already learned this in the hard way. Sheryl led a platoon before Purdue Pharma, whose mass marketing of the powerful OxyContin painkiller helped the crisis unfold.

– What more should we do? She wonders.

Sheryl does not like talking about politics. Both Republicans and Democrats have failed to stop this, she says. She voted for Trump, who announced an emergency for public health in 2017, and continues to hope he will keep his promise to end the scourge.

Last year, Congress adopted a legislative package designed to fight the crisis and appropriated $ 8.5 billion, experts welcome, but are far from enough to build the necessary treatment infrastructure. During the AIDS crisis, the federal government increased tens of billions of dollars, said Keith Humphreys, a Stanford University professor and drug policy expert. "The opiate epidemic is as serious as this and will require such resources."

She surpasses Cheryl to think of everything the nation should do to solve this, and therefore tries to focus on what she knows.

She knows parents without money to let them bury their children; the ashes sit in cardboard boxes. So the first item on the agenda of her boarding this week is to decide how much to donate for tombstones and urns. Her members on board grimaces.

There is Cindy Wyman, who has heard of the drug dealer's door, taking a picture of her daughter. And Lynn Wenkus, whose son is emptying his bank account and betting on her wedding ring, and yet she borrowed her 401k to pay for treatment. It once made him buy heroin because he desperately wanted to enter a detoxification facility that would only take drug patients into their system. She was sitting beside him as he flipped up, clinging to drugs of overturning and weeping.

"That's what we wanted to do to save our children," Lynn says. "And even that was not enough.

They were afraid of the phone call for years. For Sheryl she came in the middle of the night, from her oldest son, Bobby, a policeman.

"Mom, Cory is dead," he said. Sherill felt her knees.

This call is her marker in time: before her and her life was a normal life that involved unwanted experience in the burial of young Americans.

Perhaps, she offers on board, they have to give their parents $ 500 to help bury their first child and $ 1,000 for their second one?

Lynn rubbed his temples and moaned. "Second child," she says. "Oh my God."

"I know," Cheryl says. And then, before she could stop it, her mind plunged into the basement of the funeral home and she was shopping for coffins seven years ago. On this worst day of her life, her eldest son, the officer, collapsed. Her middle-aged son, Sean, was still addicted to the "happy pills" Cori had introduced him. And Sheryl felt helpless to fix it.

She stood beside her son's kiosk, shakes hands, smiles awkwardly – she did not suspect that the fog would rise and the reality would crush her until she wanted her to die.


When Cory was born, Cheryl had pulled the cradle to her bed and slept with her hand on her back, counting her heart. Her first sons were young, but Cory was planned. He always feared he would lose it.

"I just felt that life would never be good for me," she says. – And then something so good came.

Cory's father left when the boy is 5 years old, and for a couple of years this is only Sheryl and her sons. Cory slept in bed every night. Four years later, she met with Peter Juire, a firefighter, and was struck.

A new husband followed new rules; Cory was a joker, always playing jokes, and he did not like the rules. He was a Scout Boy and a Little Spouse, then dropped out of high school and everything quickly shrank. Sheryl saw him for the first time in chains when he was arrested on a drug charge of 18. "This is my baby," she roared, and the guards had to keep her. Then he went in and out of detoxification and shut down and sometimes called her to say that there was nowhere to go.

Peter, who was recovering 31 years ago, thought Cory had to reach the bottom, so Sheryl told Cory that he could not stay with them. Now that he sometimes imagines his son, he sleeps on a bench.

"Are you always sorry about that?" – asked her husband once. No, he replied. Not this part. But a long time ago, he made other mistakes when Cory was young and did not understand.

Eventually Cory went to recover and moved to a sober dwelling home, and Cheryl thought the nightmare was behind them until he called.

At first she found herself at the graveyard to lie down at his grave. He loved to imagine his bones and worried that he would go mad.

She built a sanctuary at the front door with a pile of things she found, and thought Cory had sent signs: feathers, flowers, quarters.

She was worried if she had died, believing he had disappointed her, and begged her to come to her in a dream. He did once; she washed dishes and turned from the sink and smiled there, his baby baby. Then he was "gone, he was gone," and he was afraid that his sadness had frightened him.

It was just not suicidal; just did not want to live. She started drinking. One night he went out onto the porch and stared at the stars. She was overcome by the guilt of seeing such beauty when her son would never see another sky. She fell to the ground and lay there, praying that God would kill her while her husband left, picked it up and put her in bed.

"I was watching her leave me," Peter remembers. The way he moved did not see us permanently.

Less and less of friends were heard while he did not hear about them. Years of isolation until a dinner invitation with seven mothers whose children died of overdose arrived. They sat and talked for hours, admitting that they had been forced to sleep in the graves of their children, gathered feathers that they thought were sent from heaven, and begged God to kill them.

Sherill came home that night and soon started her band.

"You're not crazy," say mothers.

Some tattooed the ashes of their children in their flesh. Some see the mediums trying to get in touch with them. They share pictures in the sky and swear they see their children's faces in the clouds.

Many people who worry will forget their children or prefer to pretend that they never existed, so that Cheryl begins every morning to recognize the parents whose children were born on that day and those who died on it . She feels their rhythms: The first year is tingling, the second pure hell. She can understand which mothers have drunk who have ceased to leave the house. "She's tough," she said, remembering she had to keep a close eye on her.

She does this from the moment she wakes up until she falls asleep, sometimes a phone in her hand. Her husband says she worries about consuming her, but she shrugs his shoulders and smiles.

Staying busy with other mothers means she should not think about what she did not do for her own son.


All that has brought Sheryl to the little white funeral office in New Hampshire, the country with the fifth highest rate of overdose deaths.

She had called the troops: Cindy Wood and Kay Scarpone, mothers of Marines who had come back from the service, changing men. All three women grew up in the same city, but they were never friends until heroin took his sons and attacked them.

"All these beautiful lives," moans Cindy, who decides he can not bear another bud and retreat back to the car. She took a picture of her 20-year-old son Brandon, his cheeks pink and his shirt dangling. She was at the cemetery where she recently laid flowers on her grave and met another mother visiting her son who died of cancer. The woman asked Cindy how her son had died, and before she thought, she dropped: "The instinct surprised her as if she had swallowed up the stigma of the world that being a surrogate mother was better to keep a shameful secret.

"You feel alone when you lose such a child," she says.

Sherill approaches Kay as they walk together in the chapel, and she puts a compassionate card in a basket. She avoids fixing her eyes on the pictures of the face that this young man was, or his broad-minded child or the mourners who shake their heads because it should not have ended this way. The dam had broken into a recent funeral, and Cheryl had left the cry of the chapel.

"Beat yourself later," she says, for she is supposed to be strong enough to show that life may exist afterwards.

Little is known about the long-term psychological consequences for the hundreds of thousands of mothers and fathers who have buried their children since the onset of the opioid epidemic. The mass organizations for these families are sporadic, mainly funded by baking sales and 5,000 races and randomly pocketed in the country, usually when someone like Sheryl has lost a child and decided to start.

The Partnership for Children without Drugs last year tried to strengthen Capitol Hill's $ 10 million support to create a family support program so parents would not have to just focus on the misfortune of addiction and death, Lee Taylor. officer. There was no grip.

– Who's saving us? Sheryl wonders. "Nobody."

Inside the small chapel, she folds her arms around her grieving mother. There is electricity between women who have lost their children and no one else can feel, Cheryl swears as if they can feel each other in the crowds.

"I do not have to bury my son," says the woman.

– You are not alone. We lost our children too, "Cheryl told her, and the mother nodded.

"We will not leave anyone," she says.


Driving back home, Sheryl admired the sunny sky. Beautiful, she says. Maybe it's a gift from Cory. Then he checked his phone and frowned. She was hoping for a message from another mother who recently lost her child. A common friend asked Sheryl to call her and she was worried now because she had not heard.

Преди две години един член на нейната група й разказа за майка, която току-що е загубила син. Шерил се замисли за нея, но не искаше да се намесва. Жената се самоубила два дни по-късно, на рождения ден на сина си.

Съжалявам измъчван Черил – "Ами ако бях се обадил първо? Би ли направила разлика?" – затова постави въпросите на групата си на страницата във Facebook. Казаха й да не се чувства отговорна; някои й казаха, че е спасила живота им. "Знам как се чувства тази жена", пише една майка, която е загубила две деца. – Не искаме да сме на това пътуване. Няколко месеца по-късно и тази майка се самоуби.

Това са залозите на Шерил, пазител на толкова много мъки на родителите. Докато напускаше погребалния дом, десетки от тях започнаха да се събират в къщата на езерото на член на групата, за да потръпнат като всеки друг, с изключение на това, че колите отвън имаха стикери за броня или регистрационни номера, чиито житейски късчета бяха съкратени: „Джен 29“ 22. "И имена прочетете:" Деби, майката на Джей, "" Лоис, майка на Роби. "

Годишното парти на Team Sharing е едно от любимите дни на Черил в годината. Но за да стигне дотам, тя трябва да мине покрай сградата, където е починал синът й.

Първият път разсеяно последва GPS и изведнъж се появи. "Не, не, не, това не може да се случи", помисли си тя, а след това: "О, Боже, само ако бях разбрал. Защо не прекарах повече време с него? Питайте го какво става в него. Защо? Защо? Защо?

Сега, докато тя отново минава покрай сградата, тя не може да устои на желанието да влезе на паркинга. Там е бунището, където Питър бързо бе хвърлил чаршафите, преди да я пусне вътре. Прозорец на втория етаж води до спалнята, където Шерил се беше свила на голия матрак, като си представяше отпечатъка на тялото на Кори. Спомня си, че навсякъде имаше игли, въпреки че винаги си мислеше, че се страхува от игли.

"Когато седя тук и съм съвсем сам и гледам нагоре, не искам да знам, но искам да знам, но не искам да знам какви са последните му мисли. Усещаше ли го? Знаеше ли, че умира? Наричал ли е името ми? Тя пита.

През повечето време, с помощта на майките си, тя успява да не мисли за това. И тя има основания да се надява.

През май миналата година личните писма започнаха да пристигат в пощенските кутии на нейните членове от Белия дом; те приемат това като знак, че президентът е развълнуван от всичките им валентинки. Нейният среден син, Шон, се възстановява и помага на другите да се борят за чисти. Боби, офицерът, намери писмо, което Кори го изпрати, и подписва татуировката му върху ръката му; постоянството му помогна да намери мир.

Дъщерята на Кори, на 4 месеца, когато е починал, е на 8 и има зелени очи на баща си. Черил я отвежда на гробището в рождените си дни, поставя малка масичка, пеят и ядат торта. И бракът й оцеля. Петър приема светилището до входната врата и трябва да прекара целия ден по телефона, да говори с майките си.

Тя поклаща глава, за да събори сълзите. – Добре – казва тя. – Отивам на парти.

В джипа с бронята на името на сина й, Шерил се отправя към къщата на езерото. Докато тя пишеше надписката си „Черил, майката на Кори“, и я поставяше на сърцето си, друга майка излиза да се обади по телефона.

Преди три години, когато една медицинска сестра в болницата разказала на тази жена, че синът й е мъртъв от предозиране, тя я молеше да изтръгне сърцето й и да му го даде. Сега другият й син беше по телефона, излиташе от ума си. Той просто се върна, казва й той и се тревожи, че този път няма да успее.

Майката казва на приятел да благодари на Шерил и тя спокойно се изплъзва.


Кликнете тук за повече информация за групата на Juaire, Team Sharing и тук за допълнителни ресурси за пристрастяване и възстановяване. Отидете на този въпрос и отговори, за да научите повече за жертвите от опиоидната криза в Америка и отговора на правителството. За повече от тази серия вижте:


AP Националният писател Клер Галофаро от години съобщава за опиоидната криза в Америка. Следвайте я в Twitter на @clairegalofaro или я посетете на [email protected]

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