If raising boys is hard, then raising twin boys is extremely hard. Wade and Daniel were involved in all of the typical things — Cub Scouts, baseball, church and all of the other boy activities. They enjoyed bike riding, swimming, tormenting their sister and, as only identical twins could do, pulling pranks at school by pretending to be each other, fooling even their teachers at times.
As they entered their teen years, trouble started. It began with small changes. Grades dropped, friends changed and, as time went on, the boys seemed more and more distant. These were the first warning signs that there was trouble brewing, with a lot more to come.
Little Changes Give Big Clues
Shortly after we noticed the “little changes” it became more obvious with the glazed, bloodshot eyes and coming in late after their curfew that the boys had begun experimenting with marijuana. When confronted, they would deny it. They would say they were fine, that we were “just imagining things.” I was confident that the discussions and talks of drugs at home and school, not to mention the anti-drug programs like the “Just Say No” 80’s campaign and D.A.R.E, that there would be no question left in our boys’ minds of the negative impact of drugs, that they wouldn’t become a statistic, one of those kids.
I was wrong.
We tried talking, tough love, punishment, rewarding, tracking their every move and everything else in between that we could possibly think of. It was all to no avail. There were so many arguments with both boys about their behavior, the way they spoke, the music they blared, the clothes they wore and the company they kept. “Maybe this is just a phase,” I thought. It wasn’t.
Both boys opted to not continue school in the traditional way and began to study for their GED. After successfully passing the test, they both went to work as electrician helpers. The money was pretty good and they worked hard every day. Sounds like things should have fallen into place, right? They had their GED, a skilled trade, and were paid decently. We were back on the “normal track” like parents of “normal” teenagers. There was one problem, a big problem. It was a warning, a huge warning. It should have been on a billboard off the interstate and flashing in neon colors, PROBLEM, PROBLEM. Although they were both working and being paid on a regular basis they never seemed to have any money.
I was worried and confused. When I would try to talk with them they both shut down. As time went on I could see their personalities changing before me. Daniel seemed so down and Wade was so quiet, completely opposite of the little boys I remembered. I can still recall a day I got a phone call from Daniel at lunch time. He was crying, “Mom, I’m so tired.” “Why aren’t you at lunch?” I asked only to hear that he was sitting in his car and, once again, had no money.
Our Worst Fears Confirmed
Our daughter loves her brothers very much and had just found out what was happening in the boys’ lives. She worked as a paramedic for the county in the detention center. While at work one afternoon, she went to check on a group of new detainees that had recently arrived. She was supposed to address any problems the detainees had, including medical and mental health, and address any potential complications from alcohol or drug withdrawal.
As she prepared to leave for the day she made a last round in one of the holding cells checking on the men temporarily housed there. To her surprise, as she lifted the blanket off the head of the last person before she exited the cell, it was Wade who was the person in need, staring back at her. Shortly after she got into her car to go home that afternoon she realized that she had multiple missed calls from a good friend of hers, a Greenville City Police officer. It wasn’t until she returned his call that Jennifer learned of the life at least one of her brothers was living as the officer said, “Jenn, your brother has been using heroin.” He had been the arresting officer who brought Wade to the detention center that day.
My husband and I came home the next evening to find all three of our kids in the living room with longtime friends of our family. Jennifer had arranged a meeting with all of us so that the boys could finally come clean, the final moment of truth. Jennifer had arranged to have our dear friends there for support for my husband and myself. Little did we know how much support we were about to need. Daniel and Wade broke down and confessed that they had been using heroin. I remember feeling my heart drop and hearing my husband angrily storming out of the house slamming the door.
How could this happen? How did this happen? Why us? Hundreds of questions flew through my mind. All I could think of was the stories from the 70’s about a terrible drug called heroin, and now I was being forced to say the word heroin in my own home and accept the fact that this foreign drug was now affecting my family. I felt like I was in a cloud or in a dream. Maybe if I wait a few minutes all of this craziness will go away. I will wake up and everything will be as it was before when drugs weren’t influencing my family and my boys were still the little blonde-headed, blue-eyed bundles of neverending energy. I could almost hear their innocent high-pitched childish giggles. But no, this was reality and now I had to find a way to accept this terrible truth. I was in a panic. What do I do?
The Desperate Search for Help
Daniel and Wade vowed they never meant this to happen, that they were in over their heads. I asked them over and over what in the world made them think using heroin would be a good idea? They would cry and say, “I don’t know, Mom.” In my heart, I genuinely believe they didn’t know why or even how.
We searched to find help, but who could afford the expensive recovery programs out of state? Especially for two. Over the next year Daniel and Wade tried different local recovery programs. Our family would attend their graduation ceremony with smiles of happiness and some relief, but after a short time they would relapse again at different times. Each time was gut wrenching as I watched them both fight so hard to beat this demon. I would lie awake at night crying, trying to think of something that I could do or something I could have done. I had to have missed something; there has to be a cure. I would cry myself to sleep trying to think of a way to save my boys.
During long talks with each of the boys, they would say, “I just want to be normal again and lead a good life.”
It was so painfully heartbreaking to watch. The only way I can describe it is watching your children out in the ocean struggling against a current, and there’s nothing you can do to help save them. Wade confessed to me at one point that he and Daniel talked, and if it got bad enough that he and Daniel had agreed that they would commit suicide together. That way our family would have to endure their loss only once. In their desperate minds this made sense. They were exhausted and hopeless and there was no superhero movement or phone call I could make to fix it for them.
Relapse Becomes the Norm
Another time Wade had come home high after a relapse. Daniel was crying and Wade was saying, “Daniel, why can’t you just let me go.” I remember screaming at the top of my lungs, “Look what you’re doing to your brother, look what you are doing to us!” I was desperate, something had to give. I couldn’t take anymore.
Wade seemed to be getting worse and I remembered someone had mentioned Greer Mental Health, so I made an appointment. Everyone in our family was frightened, including Wade. Maybe I could have him committed to the hospital; it would be a start in the right direction I had hoped. I realized this solution was short lived after Wade arrived back home just a couple of days later.
Then I remembered Greer Mental Health mentioning Miracle Hill Ministries and a 7-month program they had available for those with addiction. I looked it up online and it just so happened that Miracle Hill Overcomers Center is located in the old Monastery of St. Clare on Pleasantburg Dr. When the kids were younger, I had taken them to visit the nuns. I remembered Sister Madelina and Sister Mary Frances giving the kids cookies and the fun visits we would all have. I started thinking maybe this was God’s plan.
“Wade, get in the car, we’re going to Miracle Hill,” I directed, not asked. We met with some of the staff at Miracle Hill when we arrived and they explained their program in depth. It was amazing to hear the structure of the programs they have. Suddenly I felt some hope and peace come over me, something I hadn’t felt in a very long time, years actually. Staff suggested Wade go home and wait for a phone call stating they had an opening for the program. Not long after, we received the phone call we had been waiting (and praying) for. Wade was hesitant to commit himself to a 7-month program, but he was willing to give it a shot.
Getting Their Lives Back
The first time we were able to visit Wade at Miracle Hill was amazing. He was clearheaded, and I saw a smile that I hadn’t seen in a very long time. We toured the facility and I was amazed. Wade had a long road ahead, but he was on his way. He had to attend scheduled classes each day. Everyone was expected to be up early in the morning for prayer service, bed made and dressed presentably. Each time we would visit Wade we were more and more amazed at the man he was becoming, and I could see his confidence flourishing. He was becoming more and more involved in the Miracle Hill programs, and we would go and visit whenever he would ask. Miracle Hill was saving my son’s life! God was working in Wade’s life, there was no denying that.
As we focused on Wade’s recovery, we knew Daniel needed the same help. Daniel found a 3-month program at a facility in Greenwood. He was excited about starting a new chapter in his life as well, confident that he would beat this addiction. I took him to the Greenwood facility when he got the call. We hugged tight and we both knew this would be hard, but Daniel was up for this final challenge. Again he would say, “Mom, I just want my life back.”
I remember crying on the way back to Greenville, “God, please heal Daniel, we love him so much.” Visits to see Daniel were good. He too was in a caring environment with love and compassion and lots of structure around the Bible. Daniel was the happiest I had seen him in quite a while. He looked relaxed and was so grateful for this opportunity to move forward. Daniel graduated the program three months later; it was a wonderful celebration and everything was finally looking up. Daniel had been engaged and was to be married in just a couple of weeks. We were all so excited for him. My boys were finally okay! The wedding went on as planned and it was beautiful.
Addiction Steals Our Son
On August 13, 2015, two months to the day after Daniel’s wedding, he passed away.
My husband had gone to check on him when he hadn’t answered his phone all day and found him on the floor. I knew in my heart what had happened when my husband called me to say, “Come now, it’s Daniel.” When I pulled up, there was an ambulance, fire truck, police and the coroner. Daniel had relapsed and there was nothing we could do. I knew in my heart this was not a choice he wanted to make, but the evil demon had raised its head again. I want everyone to know that Daniel fought so hard to beat this. But the demon had won, and I felt a piece of me die that day along with my Daniel.
We had to tell Wade. We drove to Miracle Hill and Wade was happily surprised to see us for an unexpected visit. Wade had support staff with him as we had called ahead of time to explain the circumstances. The silence was unbearable and I blurted out, “Daniel is gone.” Wade fell to the floor crying, “Not Daniel, not Daniel.” The pain and grief was unbearable. We brought Wade home that night and the next few days were so painful, trying to deal with the reality of losing our Daniel.
During our grief, worry set in. Would Wade relapse because of this? Can he truly move forward without his twin brother? Does he remember the pact he and his twin made years ago- if one went so did the other? Later in the day, after the funeral, Wade and I were sitting at the kitchen table alone. Neither of us said anything until Wade said, “You know I’m not going back to using drugs.” I told him I was so relieved to hear those words. He told me he absolutely hated drugs, and I could see the regret in his face.
The Journey of Faith and Healing Continues
The next few weeks were so hard. We all had to try to get on with our lives without Daniel. Wade returned to Miracle Hill Overcomers and with the day to day loving support and structure from Miracle Hill, he was back on track. Not easy, but God and Miracle Hill would see him through. He had some really hard days for weeks to come, but the staff was amazing. I truly believe that Miracle Hill saved Wade’s life, and I think he would agree.
Today Wade works full time for Miracle Hill Overcomers as their Intake Coordinator mentoring those in need who have their own story and are looking for help. Wade is working toward his Bachelor’s degree with the help of Miracle Hill. He is married, and he and his family live in Fountain Inn in a new home they just built. We are so proud of all that Wade has accomplished, and we know there is much more to come. We know how proud Daniel is of his twin brother, and there is no question he watches over Wade and all of us every day. We still grieve the loss of Daniel every day, but we hold on to our faith knowing we will see him again in heaven.
Post lovingly submitted by Sheryl Cason