Gil had just graduated from Rutgers and was starting a new job in finance when we first met. He was fun and adventurous. We traveled regularly, we biked, we were happy.
Then he herniated two discs in his neck. We were told surgery was not an option, but pain management could help him live with his injury. Doctors prescribed opioids and pills which did alleviate his pain. We were grateful.
But he grew dependent on these prescription drugs over time and the doctors had to increase his dosage steadily until they could increase it no more.
I watched him panic at the end of each month as he counted his pills, fearing he would run short. I witnessed the withdrawal regularly…the sweating and shaking and stomach pain. His body needed the drugs to function.
He lost his job, the first of several. Then one evening I found Gil unconscious when I returned home late from work. Fortunately the children, who were in his care at the time, were safe. I could no longer trust him though.
We returned to his doctors for help, but they produced paperwork he had signed protecting them from liability and then they showed us to the door. We were on our own to deal with the mess they had made.
And then I found his emails. Gil was supplementing his habit online. He had also learned that heroin was not only effective, but much cheaper than prescription drugs.
And just like that he went from pills to needles.
Gil finally agreed to treatment. He spent an agonizing ten days in detox. When his body was clean of drugs, he went to outpatient therapy and was prescribed yet another drug by another doctor. This drug, Suboxone, was supposed to treat his drug dependency.
Instead he overdosed, fell and fractured his skull.
While he was in the hospital, I filed for divorce. I did not understand the power of these drugs nor addiction. I thought he was weak.
We lost our savings and house. I filed for bankruptcy and moved our three children into a small apartment. I took on two additional jobs and worked seven days a week for three years.
Thankfully some generous friends, neighbors and even strangers helped us during this difficult period. I will never forget the humanity, but also the humility of having to receive help.
And all the while, I continued to pray Gil would recover and be a dad again to our three boys.
So, I was hopeful when his family admitted him to rehab last year. Gil was doing well and taking care of himself again. He returned home to see our boys just before Halloween.
He texted me to make plans. Then he said he hoped the rift between our families could be mended. He wanted to rebuild. He sounded like the old Gil, before the injury and the drugs. And then the texts abruptly stopped.
Today marks one year since his body was found. Gil died alone in his apartment after injecting heroin that had been laced with fentanyl and cocaine. He did not have a chance after living free of drugs for several months.
To the greedy pharmaceutical companies and doctors who pushed these addictive prescription drugs knowing how dangerous they are, I hope that someday you will be held accountable in a court of law. You destroyed a good man and my family and you robbed our children of their father.
And to Gil…know that you are forgiven, you are loved and you are missed.
I double majored in Anthropology and Judaic Studies before earning a master’s degree in Jewish Civilization. I traveled, lived abroad and then did as expected…got married, had children, bought a house and started a promising career. Then it all unraveled. I write for therapy. I have previously shared my life experiences on Scary Mommy and Kveller. My three boys are my everything.