Mobilize Recovery

especially when you let it! Be kind to each other. (1).png

I recently returned from an amazing conference/training. The Voices Project is partnering with Facebook and several other recovery minded businesses.

It was inspiring and energizing. I felt drawn to doing more work in my own community to prevent substance use disorder and to help those who are afflicted with SUD and/or mental health issues.

Since returning home (via a short camp vacation) I got started planning an event to Stop Stigma regarding mental illness and substance use disorder. #OurStoriesMatter

It is still in the planning stages but, it will entail recovery speakers, book signing, Narcan training and a resource fair.

I have given an interview on costs of treatment to, and I have started attending a family action group in our state .I look forward to sharing some of the knowledge I gained over the last 10 years or so. I hope to be a resource for families and a recovery advocate.

More to follow…




IMG-0890This movie was made by Riley, a high school student from Vermont. She made an award winning short version of the film and then transformed it into a longer more substantial piece.

As Sean’s Mom, I was asked to help with the film. Riley’s Dad was the ICU doctor who kept Sean alive the first night after his overdose. We weren’t sure of the extent of the brain damage but, we hoped he could get through the next 48 hours so a determination could be made.Unfortunately, the damage was severe. The transition to organ donation took place soon after it was determined that Sean have suffered brain death.

I really appreciated the compassion and care of the ICU team. So when asked I said of course I would help. I had no idea that the film would win awards or even be shown at a local cinema.

Of course, I wish I could have used some less stigmatizing language or paid more attention to my hair and make-up. However, it was filmed just a few months after he died and the emotions were pretty raw.

The real gift was I got to practice my story, or my version of Sean’s story. My husband and I presented Sean’s story a few weeks later to our city’s opioid task force. We have been able to testify at our local legislature. So much of this was possible because Riley,

took the time to encourage our story and perfect the message.  Sean was a beautiful person, afflicted by mental illness. A disease just like cancer or diabetes, unfortunately because the brain is affected, many choices are self sabotaging.

Riley is generously making the film available free and to the public.

Thank you!!



AL DOG , the Best Ski Coach Ever

Al was Sean’s alpine ski coach, Sean wrote this draft as a public speaking project in high school. His performance was inspiring. As his parents we were so proud of his message and his gift of charisma. (I was always jealous of his natural grace in front of an audience.)

Sean loved Al, and Al helped Sean immensely in high school and even after, reaching out to him frequently.ALDOG pg1ALDOGpg2ALDOG pg 3

May is for Mental Health Awareness

As May comes to a close, I have been trying to come up with an event to raise awareness. I am grateful the idea came to me and someone suggested a great name.

I want to share “Our Stories Matter ” an afternoon event August 24th, Oakledge Park, Burlington Vermont.

Speakers will talk about their experiences with mental health and substance use disorder.

I am hoping to decrease stigma for people and those that love them.

I know sharing isn’t easy or even natural. It can bring awareness to the struggles people face, the burdens they carry that are too often shrouded in silence.

This event has been my focus this May, organizing, fund raising…generally thinking about it.

Now let us hope the weather cooperates.

Kim, Sean’s Mom

So Rewarding……

So the last few weeks have been exciting, rewarding and just downright surprising  I was asked to participate in some activities and before I can even comprehend, I am being whisked away to a coveted recovery workshop in LV NV.

Let’s begin:

Becoming an advocate :

Start with a loss so insurmountable you can’t fathom an end.

Then begin to reach others who are similarly impacted. only through the bond of loss can you begin to float, As you find others on your path, you begin to feel less alone.

You begin to feel emboldened enough to say “Hey, not OK” my kid should still be with us, alive, maybe struggling, but still alive….

So soon a garage sale, a promise of a recovery event..

I am so beyond happy to see all this happen. However, I would never place all the wants in this world with Seanthe needs that are there. We need SCS, homes and unconditional care….

Easter, the resurrection

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When Sean was about 7, while visiting my Dad in Florida, he attended a study course taught by my Dad at his church. My Dad was a Methodist minister. He was astonished by Sean’s interest and knowledge of Jesus and the bible. For a little while, I wasn’t sure Sean would agree to come home with us.

In later years, when Sean was homeless, poor and struggling, he was still one of the most popular people I have ever had the pleasure of walking a street with. People came from all over to hug him, shake his hand or “pound it”. It was as though he had a life and following, I couldn’t imagine. Even though by all practical measures, he didn’t have anything. No home, often no money, rarely no job. ( he was easily and frequently hired, the jobs didn’t always last) He had a charisma that was difficult to quantify.

Sometimes, I felt he was too special for this world. He was like a prophet. He preached love, kindness and peace. He was a beautiful hippie in every good way.

I do think his presence on earth was not in vain. He was here for a reason. His message was meaningful and it still carries.

This passage reminds me of Sean. I think of Jesus of a prophet. Interestingly, as I age, I treasure all the messages and teachings we have from our loved one’s who have passed. They were prophets too.

The Boy Jesus in the Temple

41 Now whis parents went xto Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.

42 And when he was twelve years old, zthey went up according to custom. 43 And whenthe feast awas ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem.wHis parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’sjourney, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances,45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 Afterthree days they found him in the temple, bsitting among cthe teachers, listening to themand asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understandingand his answers. 48 And when his parents1 saw him, they were astonished. And hismother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, dyour father and I havebeen searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you lookingfor me? Did you not know that eI must be in fmy Father’s house?”2 50 And gthey did notunderstand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came toNazareth and was submissive to them. And hhis mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus iincreased in wisdom and in stature3 and in ifavor with God and man.


I treasure so much of Sean in my heart.

Easter marks the resurrection. For those of us who have lost children. We identify with the loss , the crucifixion.  Unfortunately, there is no resurrection. Our kids don’t come back to life.


So we hope for signs. Sean is with his Grandfathers. His paternal Grandfather’s birthday falls on Easter this year. They never met on Earth but, were very similar. Both were kind, intelligent men, with a sense of loyalty to country and family. Both had birthdays that could fall on Easter. Sean’s Grandfather died at 54, a heart attack, maybe hastened by alcohol. He was accomplished, very hard working.

Alcohol takes years to exact it’s toll, fentanyl takes just a few minutes. So, Sean was gone at 27.

Today, driving from a family visit a beautiful rainbow appeared.

Thank you Sean and Grandpas, we miss you.

#Harm Reduction

In Vermont we have faced a controversy surrounding possession of unprescribed buprenorphine. Many have advocated for looking the other way when someone has a few strips in their possession.  As Sean’s family, we are in favor of decriminalization of drug possession. We favor rapid treatment on demand, screening for OUD upon arrest. These measures are more likely to help, not harm.

The criminalization of possession is frightening. This puts more power in an officer’s hands, and less in a judge’s. I want our family members to have access to life saving medication, if they aren’t ready to make to commitment to treatment, yet.

That being said, the real decrease in diversion will be rapid access to treatment. Already, once MAT was instituted in our corrections facilities, the “price” of buprenorphine plummeted. If people can access the treatment they need in a “safe” treatment home, there will be less need for diverted strips. This is what we all want. Treatment whenever a person desires it, at a treatment center or Emergency Room.



On Birthdays..

Last week, Friday, was supposed to be Sean’s 29th birthday. It was a hard day, as expected. It is difficult to not envision all he could be doing with his life. He seemed so close to successfully dealing with his mental health. He was working, close to having enough money to get an apartment of his own. When he died, he had 400.00 on his bank card. Which if you knew Sean…., that was astounding.

We have a beautiful voice message from him the day before he died. We made plans to have dinner on that fateful Tuesday. We were going to meet up, share a meal. I was calling him at the point he overdosed. The phone call couldn’t rouse him. I called again, and by then he was in the ambulance.

So, I can’t help but, think on these birthdays and anniversaries, what if the Narcan had worked, what if they had more than one dose on hand. What was he using? What did he think he was using? Cocaine? Heroin?

These are the questions that will never be answered. His friends have weighed in, overwhelmingly, not aware, that he may have relapsed with opiates.  They say he went into the bathroom, to get ready to meet up with us for dinner.  He said he would never go back, that was years in his past. Too many of his friends, had died from overdose, he was not going to let that happen.

Were the needles his? Did the scene get “cleaned up” as the police suggest..

This is opiate use disorder is a powerful shackle, not easy to fully break free from. Maybe he was excited to be having a day off and decided to celebrate, spend his paycheck..

We can’t know the answers. We can celebrate the time we did have with him. The four years after the months lost in the Bronx, when we thought he was lost forever. How he survived that time, it was a miracle.  For better or for worse the years that followed were a gift. The time he spent in jail, in the last year of his life, was a time of reconciliation. Time we needed to reconnect. Time to see us, his family as on his side. Time for us to learn how to love him disease and all.  The last month, we connected in spite of his circumstances. That was a present, in retrospect, so soften the blow.

He has left us with beautiful gifts, a treasure chest of memories. He left us his poems and his letters. The cards from the last year were so heartfelt and so moving. He even left us a 15 page diary. Someday, I hope to be able to get through the diary, which he titled if “For my Mother, for all the sleepless nights” The story of Liam Blake. (We were going to name him Liam, I was worried that the name was too unusual, I think he would have liked it better).

Someday, the memories will outshine the what ifs, not quite this year, not yet.