I’ve been avoiding this one. And for that reason, I think I will make this short. It’s impossible to tell Casey’s story without talking about his struggle with drug addiction. Why would I expose him in this way, our beloved son, brother, father, friend? Because he would have wanted me to, plain and simple.
Although Casey hid his drug related activities, he also got in trouble. A lot. So there was no hiding it. For all his teen years and until the autopsy, which showed a negative toxicology, Casey did what most addicts do. They give in to it, they fight it, they struggle, weep, rage. During his younger teen years, he lied a lot, stole from us, fought us. But as he got older, he became more and more spiritual in his inner life. He valued honesty and became more open about himself.
When I decided to tell Casey’s story and not just my own grief story, I gathered all the documents we had, then contacted all the facilities he’d stayed in, all the social services who’d been part of his life. Lifeskills had the most documentation—doctor reports, Casey’s worksheets, summaries, and daily staff reports from the Children’s Crisis Stabilization Unit, Rivendell Psychiatric Hospital, Park Place—but we also had police reports, and most of the materials from Care Academy in Willisburg, where he stayed twice during his 9th and 10th grades.
Once Casey told me that during a particularly ugly trip—I think it was during a brief time when he used crack—he saw a demon. It scared him. Later, going through his writing (he was prolific), I found this drawing, which I take to be that demon, with its ominous warning, “I’m waiting for you.”
So don’t let anyone tell you that drug addiction is a walk in the park.
Maybe this won’t be as short as I thought it would. It seems to me that in the letter below Casey is both sincere and maybe a little ambivalent (maybe a lot).
That ambivalence, along with countless and often confusing contradictions, characterize a lot of his teen years. Casey would have wanted his life, including all his hard work, to mean something, not just to us who loved and love him. He would have wanted other people to confront their demons, too. After all, we all “have business to take care of!” It’s called life. (One of his favorite Bible passages was “Choose life” from Deuteronomy.)