Addiction is a disease. There is no way to argue that.
At its worst, addiction can claim the lives of good people. People who deserved better, who needed an ear to listen, who needed someone to help.
For one mother, Cyndee Charlet, addiction took the life of her son. His name was Joshua Daughtry and she had the terrible misfortune of finding his lifeless body after an accidental heroin overdose.
It happened February 22nd, around 10:30am. Cyndee remembers the moments so clearly, as it changed her life forever.
Cyndee never could have imagined her son would leave her so soon. Every night she recalls how he would sometimes wake her up in the middle of the night to tell her how much he loved her. She remembers the last night she spent with him and how much fun they had together. Never was she expecting to wake up and find Joshua dead in the bathroom.
The pain Cyndee felt was so immense she couldn't take it. She wondered how her heart wasn't exploding from all the hurt she was feeling. Everything moved in slow motion and hyper speed at the same time, as the paramedics told Cyndee her Joshua was gone. She distinctly remembers hearing them tell her "You don't need to see him like this." Cyndee disagreed. She writes, "that is my f****** son of course I am going to look at him and touch him and kiss him for as long as I can before they take him away and I never see him again." Cyndee didn't say those words out loud, but she screamed them in her head.
Cyndee held her son's hand and started crying. It was setting in. This is real. Her son is gone. She sat beside Joshua looking at his beautiful face. She touched her son's face, kissed his cheeks, ran her fingers through his hair...everything she could do before they took him away for a final time. Cyndee placed her hand over Joshua's heart and felt the stillness. She laid her head on his heat and hear the silence. This was it.
Cyndee wept next to her son until paramedics told her it was time to move the body. She remembers thinking "This is my son, Joshua Daughtry. This is not 'the body'." Cyndee refused to say goodbye to her son. She knew Joshua's soul would never leave her. He would always be with her, no matter what.
Cyndee's friends came to comfort her, but all she wanted to do was drink. She had never been a drinker, but this felt like the only way to relieve the pain. Her friends all sat with her while she mourned. Cyndee doesn't recall anyone saying anything. She remembers telling her friends she would be alright, because her baby was free and no longer in pain. It's the last thing she remembers about that day before drinking the night away. She slept in Joshua's bed, smelling his pillow, hoping she would remember that smell forever.
Now, 8 months later, Cyndee is still reeling from her tragedy. Every month, on the 22nd, she cannot sleep for the next week. She lays awake at night reliving the worst day of her life. But Cyndee is adamant that her son is still with her and guiding her through life, at least in spirit.
"Don't worry about me today. Yes I am sad but I will be alright. Josh is here with me giving me the strength that I don't have myself to get me through this day. I love you, Joshua Daughtry. And I miss you so much. Thank you for watching over me and I will see you when I get there ."
Cyndee wants to write a book to share her story about addiction and how it affected her life. There are so many families who suffer from this cruel disease and it's time there was a voice who spoke out for those who no longer can. Addiction doesn't equate to weakness. No one chooses this disease. It's a sad reality that millions of people have to face.
Joshua Daughtry was not weak. He was a loving son who was taken from the earth too soon. We pray for Joshua's soul, for his mother Cyndee, and everyone else who has felt the pain and grief this disease can cause.