Life's Sweet Journey: Carrying the Story

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Carrying the Story

I do not know much about what it means to be on the road to recovery from substance abuse other than my own, often bitter, sad or jaded feelings on the subject. I have watched what it can do to someone, I have seen how it can push at families to the point of breaking and I have seen what it means when someone doesn't reach the end of that road on this side of Heaven. What I have come to realize though is that we are all, in some sense, on a recovery road of our own. We are all broken and we all fall and we all stumble. We all go down that road in some fashion; battered hand over battered foot, pulling ourselves up rocks that seem too immense to climb. And that is just speaking of my own everyday struggle. I have never known what it means to fight an uphill battle with the weight of substance abuse trying to pull me back down. I saw my brother take that road time and again. For many years it was mostly at the prompting of those who loved him. And in the end it was his own wish, his own drive that kept him clean for over a year. I know what that hope feels like, I know because I felt it myself. I have heard the words that a father uses when he shares his story and the pride he has in his son as he hands him his year medallion. I have watched that same father break just months after, break into a million pieces that will never fully heal on this earth, as he comes to the realization that the redemption story didn't end the way he hoped it would.  And I have watched, most often in awe and envy, at the way he chose to carry on. It did break him, the fact the story wouldn't be redeemed the way he had hoped, with his son here on Earth. But he also realized that it didn't mean the redemption ended, it didn't mean that the story was over. Sometimes the redemption story is given to the broken left behind. God entrusts those of us that know what its like and have seen what substance abuse can do, to reach out to those struggling and share the story of a life that can still go on. It goes on through the loved ones still here. It goes on through my brothers daughter and through my dad and through those who won't give up sharing his story and trying to reach people who need help.
They are just men; your common everyday dads, sons, friends, brothers and husbands. They wear no visible capes. But to me they are warriors, warriors on surf boards. Men who took a passion and are using it to share the story of a lost son, of a friend, so that hopefully another family won't have to know what it is like to continue on with just the story. So that hopefully the redemption can be seen through the beauty of a life lived out, clean and fully and free. My hope now is that this message and these videos will reach you where you need them most. 

Maybe like me you are a sister struggling to understand what it means to be the sibling of an addict. 
Maybe like my parents you are at war about the best way to help your child, to keep them and the rest of your family from going under. 
Or maybe you are the child, the spouse, the parent, the friend, the one struggling to figure out how to keep your own head above water. 
My hope is that you find a "board" or whatever it may be that drives you and that you let it take you as far away from drugs (in whatever form that may be) as it can. 
My hope is that if you need help you reach out; to those who love you, to those who want to help or even to someone who you know is simply willing to lend a listening ear.
It matters. Your life matters. The things you leave behind matter. Your story matters. 


  1. mel :) this warms my heart. I love you soo much! what a great article!!

  2. BEAR ROBARE FOSTER BEATTYJune 11, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    OMG John Bub I Love You sooo much and always will, I always admired the person you are and have been my whole life, May you always know, there are indeed other people out there that does need to see and read your story, as I do know the struggles your family went through time and time again it is the BEAST. It took a Great Man to do this and please know John is up there riding the wave CLEAN. And looking out after us all.

  3. Melanie.....what a beautifully written piece on your brother John Wayne...if this helps just one single person out there struggling with addiction, or family members of an addict that don't know where to turn...then this will have been worth all your time and energy...and heartfelt words! I am so very sorry for your loss sweetheart and I am pretty sure that John Wayne would be extremely proud of you and what you and your family are doing here!
    Johnny Foster....this video is really some kind of is so touching and loving on so many different levels...what strength and courage I know it took for you to get through this and share your story and John Wayne's....I am also very proud of you Johnny for taking you son's personal story and telling it in the hopes that it will help others...that is one big thing that we can do when we lose someone that we love like this! I know you feel like we did when we lost Tom so young...that if it can help one more person to not suffer the same fate as our loved one....then it will have been well worth all our time and energy and love! Take care Johnny and I hope that by helping others it also helps your family to heal! Becky Whigham Smith

  4. Thank you all so much for your sweet words and encouragement! I will be sure to pass all this on to dad as well. Your love and support means so much! I hope you are all doing well.


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