Vagabond

I recently returned from Vieques, Puerto Rico. I have had the blessing of being able to travel there for a week every year, a vacation with my sister, Dawn, sometimes with my niece and/or Mom. We have been heading there for the last 10 years. A treasure, as travel had been a challenge with Sean’s illness, my husband staying home so I could get away for a short time.

It is a beautiful place, lovely beaches, horses roaming free, it is as if time stood still for a few years or decades.

I thought Sean would love it here. Relaxed and carefree, I suspect he could have gotten along pretty well, at least for a while. The geographic cure can work, sometimes for a week, sometimes for years. Usually, though life and it’s complications catch up.

I once worked with a physician in New York, who after struggling with personal issues, made it to Vieques. He tended bar and made a new beginning. Life caught up with him there as well, his adventures now the subject of a book (autobiography)

One morning, our little gang (Mom, Dawn, niece and I) arrived at a remote beach. You have to travel a pretty challenging road, with a four- wheel drive to get to Navio beach. It is one of our favorites. An exposed beach, plenty of surf and caves to explore. One time, we met a young man, doing yoga on the beach. His beat- up van was nearby, likely his camp for the night. He was getting ready for the day, yoga and a swim. He had long hair, no clothing on, and seemed very relaxed and happy. My Mom said, “Wow, he is a great swimmer”.  My sister and I looked at each other, smiled and thought “Sean”.

I didn’t want to bring Sean to Vieques, I thought he would be lost forever. A vagabond for good. I knew the medical facilities weren’t great, especially the mental health care. Sean spoke some Spanish, maybe enough to get around, I don’t know.

The idea of him being lost was terrifying. It was something I worked through in therapy, I could cope with him being out of contact with our family, if I knew he was well. I knew some people with substance use and mental health struggles needed to be away from their family of origin to become well.  A chance to find a chosen family.  It certainly was preferable to an overdose death.

So Sean lives on, in our hearts and minds, and in some, their real-life organs (his heart, liver and kidneys). A vagabond forever.

Author: for-kindness

Sean Blake, our son was 27 when he died from an accidental overdose. Sean was for kindness. Writings, poems, and posts to keep his spirit alive. We share posts to remember Sean, advocate for better treatment for mental health. We share our journey through life after his death for parents of loss.

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