Dealing with Death

Posted by Rob Brandt, With 0 Comments, Category: Announcements, Grief, Stigma, Support,

ThinkstockPhotos-544452156-640x213I am now writing this in a completely different vain than I intended.

Carla and I watched a movie last week called Wind River.  When we selected this movie, all we knew was that it was a murder mystery, which I love, and we both like Jeremy Renner who starred in the film.

There was a scene in the movie where Renner is speaking to a Dad who just found out his 18-year-old daughter had passed (we find out that Renner had lost his daughter three years earlier).  Renner talks to this Dad about what he will face.  As we listened, we were riveted as his words were so profound; clearly, this writer had lost a child because the feelings were articulated with a depth and emotion that could only come from knowing.

We knew we wanted to share those words with everyone, but today, we share them under different circumstances.  As I type this, it is literally 48 minutes after finding out that a friend had passed.  In some ways, more than a friend, a beacon of hope that I looked to as proof of our ability to win.  Kenny was two years in recovery and an amazing advocate for recovery.  Ken was an active participant with Family Matters, and his presence was a big reason why I wanted him on the Board at ROBBY’S.  I had been talking with Ken about recovery, future business ventures, and the long motorcycle rides we were going to take next year with Nolan.  We won’t get that chance because today, God called him home.

I spoke to my Dad who knew Kenny really well and he asked, “when will it end?”  I don’t know that answer, but I know it will as long as we continue to fight; continue to hope; continue to believe. I think Carla said it best – “we have to be stronger than the devil.”  Yes, we do, and we will be regardless of the pain. We will be stronger than the devil.

So, I’ll share the words with you, and maybe someone who reads them will find something in them that helps.

WIND RIVER –

RENNER CHARACTER: I’d like to tell you it gets easier, but it doesn’t.  If there is any comfort…it’s getting used to the pain I suppose.

I went to a grief seminar in Casper (Wyoming). Did you know that?

I don’t know why.  I just wanted the bad to go away.  I wanted answers to questions that couldn’t be answered.  A Counselor came up to me after the seminar, sat down next to me and he said something that stuck with me.  I don’t know if it is what he said or how he said it.

He said I got some good news and I got some bad news.  The bad news is that you’re never going to be the same.  You’re never going to be whole, not ever again.  You lost your daughter, and nothing is ever going to replace that.  The good news is that as soon as you accept that and let yourself suffer, you’ll allow yourself to visit her in your mind.  You’ll remember all the love she gave; al the joy she knew.

The point is Martin, you can’t steer from the pain.  If you do, you rob yourself…you’ll rob yourself of every memory of her. Every last one.  From her first step to her last moment.  Just take the pain Martin. You hear me, just take it.  It’s the only way you’ll keep her with you.

End –

Well, we take the pain, we take it every day and we will continue to take it.

We will take the pain because we are stronger than the devil.

We will not lose hope, but run to it.

We will believe because to do anything less is to give in to darkness.

We will take the pain and it will not break us because we will stand strong together, and we will win.


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Time for Us all to Fly

Posted by Rob Brandt, With 0 Comments, Category: Announcements,

Capture

I was sitting in a business meeting and the following video was shown. It’s quick. I invite you to watch it now.

Time to Fly

I immediately had one of those WOW moments.  I loved the message, and even though this is a product endorsement, it is clearly much deeper than that.

So, for all of those struggling with this epidemic, watch the message, take it to heart, and BELIEVE.

You can fly.

No matter what those around you say about you (stigma).

No matter the odds facing you.

You can fly!

It starts with a choice – YOUR CHOICE.  It must be followed by action – doing all the right things, over and over again.  Is it easy? No. Will you fall?  Possibly.  Will others laugh at you, mock you, try to pull you back down to their level? Yes. But if you believe, if you are willing to endure, if you are not willing to accept no as an answer, you will fly and when you do, others will follow.

We believe in you, most certainly we do. God Bless.

ROBBY’S VOICE


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The Picture that will Never Be

Posted by Anne Browning, With 0 Comments, Category: Announcements,

jaclyn nolanWe had a big month with Nolan being sworn is as a Police Officer.  We celebrate his accomplishment and his choice to serve and protect –  putting his life in harm’s way for others.  It was a very proud moment for all of us as we watched him in his dress blues, the gold striping on his sleeve, shoes shined to a mirror-like finish. He took his oath and then Mom pinned his badge on his chest. In one moment, a college graduate was now a Police Officer.

As I was driving to work a few days later, my mind wandered to another swearing in ceremony about seven years earlier. It was Robby’s ceremony when he was sworn into the United States Army right after basic training.  Again, we were so proud in his royal blue pants, navy jacket lined with brass buttons, shoes shined to a mirror-like finish.  His beret tilted on his head revealing the brow of a soldier.

Then it hit me. The picture that would never be.  The picture that would never be was that of the older brother, the example, the inspiration, dressed in that same Army dress uniform, only now more decorated, standing proudly next to the younger brother dressed in his Police dress uniform, newly adorned with that shiny silver badge.

One brother’s influence

Robby was Nolan’s inspiration.  Set to pursue business in college, I remember the conversation as if it were yesterday; “Dad…would you be upset if I did not pursue business?”  You see, Robby taught me to follow my dreams, and my dream is to go into law enforcement.”  And so it began.

The picture we of two brothers standing side-by-side, each in their respective dress uniforms will never be.    There are thousands of pictures we should have that we will never see. Reflections, reminders of family celebrations, accomplishments, moments meant to be perfect that are, and will always be, incomplete.  No matter how special, how jubilant, how joyful, there will always be that one thing missing.

So for me, I can only imagine the picture that should have been.  I can only imagine the pride of a brother that would have glowed in that moment.  I can see it, I can feel it, but I just can’t live it because it exists only in my mind where it will live as fiction forever.  So instead, I just wipe the tears from my cheeks, take a deep breath and wait for the next picture that will never be.

Ask yourself

What will it take?  What will it take for parents to do what is needed to make sure they never have to deal with that one picture; the picture that will never be?


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Learning to Hope through Cornerstone

Posted by Rob Brandt, With 0 Comments, Category: Announcements, Grief, Robby's Voice, Tags:

I don’t like the word hope.hope

To me, when we hope, we give control to someone or something other than ourselves.  It’s a weak word. I prefer faith. Faith means I believe, I know it will happen.  It means I am in control.  It’s a strong word.

Then I learned about grief.  Not just any kind of grief, but the most devastating, heart wrenching, crippling kind of grief that exists.  The kind of grief that makes you wish for the end, your end. The kind of grief that is forever.  I learned about faith and I learned about hope.

I remember it clearly on that late Friday morning, October 21st, 2011.  We just returned from the high school where we told Jaclyn and Nolan about their brother. Where we ripped their world apart.  I stood in my house as it filled with people.  Family and friends. The support was amazing.  But it didn’t matter as nobody could help me.  I was broken, numb, confused.  I had no idea what to do.  How do you move, how do you recover, how do you live?  I had no answers, and worse, I knew in that moment that if I had no answers for myself, I had no capacity to help my family.

My faith in God did not waiver. My faith in myself was gone.  I was helpless.  I was hopeless.

Herein enters Hope

A year earlier, I had been introduced to Cornerstone of Hope  by a friend who did volunteer work for them (This is a story for a different day…a story about how God put all the pieces in place).  But I remembered.  After the funeral and things got quiet and life returned to normal for those that had carried us each day, we were left to face our life.  We would have to face all the firsts, and they were coming fast.  Halloween, Robby’s favorite day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, his birthday. All would be upon us within the first 60 days.  How do we do this?  I looked at my family and they looked to me; I had no answers for them.

Tattered, beaten, humbled, I turned, we turned to Cornerstone, and in that very dark moment, we saw a light.

Carla and I attended counseling together while Cornerstone sent counselors to the high school each week to meet with Nolan and Jaclyn.  We had been given a lifeline, an angel that would help us deal with what we were now in the middle of.  We survived the holidays.  Group counseling followed for all of us, and slowly but surely we started to walk forward, learning how to adapt to our new normal.

Mark and Christi Tripodi are the founders of Cornerstone of Hope.  They are selfless givers.  They are heroes that have built an organization that catches us in our darkest moments.  As we fall into the depths, they say we are here, we will catch you, we will hold you, and we will help you find the light in the absolute darkness.

Cornerstone of Hope saved us.

There is no other way to say it.  We continue to rely on what they taught us, and each year in December, we head back for the candle ceremony where we share tears and memories with others that have been lost in their loss, and saved by this group.

I hate the word hope, but I learned that in loss and in grief, it is all we have.  We are not in control. We don’t have all the answers and we are at our weakest.  My faith in God never wavered, but I needed hope.  I needed to count on someone else to do what I could not. I needed to hand control over to someone else.

At the lowest moment of my life, they were there.  They gave me hope and that hope turned back into faith… the belief that I could move forward. That I could live again…that I could find a new normal.

Cornerstone did for my family what I could not.  They were the rock for Carla, Jaclyn and Nolan.

They saved me, they saved my family, and they continue to be a cornerstone of our ability to move forward each day.  They are THE CORNERSTONE OF HOPE.


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Yes, “these lives” are worth saving!

Posted by Rob Brandt, With 0 Comments, Category: Announcements, NarCan, Recovery, Stigma,

Drug-Addiction-642x336What is a life worth. What is your child’s life worth. These are questions that I ask when I hear people question the value of Narcan (Naloxone). There is nothing I wouldn’t do to have Robby back with us. So when people question the value of Narcan it does, well, piss-me-off.

At a meeting last summer, I even had a Police Officer tell me he struggled saving “their” lives.

Really? Their Lives?

Are we talking about kids like Robby who was so full of compassion as he dealt with the residents at the nursing home he worked at or when he chose to serve his country? Are we talking about kids like my friend Aaron who now, in recovery, is rising through the ranks of his company, is recently married, and who is a leader in the battle to stop this epidemic? Are we talking about our friend Stephanie who battled addiction, and now has dedicated her life to making a difference for young women in need?

Just whose lives are we talking about

Who gets to decide which ones live or die, which ones will make a difference in the lives of others or which family should have to live with the loss of that loved one?

Maybe we need a new movement called  Addicts Lives Matter to get the point across.

Every addict was once a child full of hopes, dreams and potential. Somewhere along the line they got derailed; overtaken with a disease they did not understand and have no ability to control. A disease that drives desperation and behavior that is simply, at times, reprehensible. But inside, under the weight of that disease, they are still those same kids that were once so full of life and hope.

Narcan saves lives. Narcan has proven, in communities where it is deployed, to reduce the incidence of use and addiction because it allows help to get to those that need it. Will some abuse it, play the Lazarus game? Probably. But should we condemn the majority of addicts who would trade every possession to be free of the monster that chases them daily for the actions of those under the influence of the devil himself?

Every addict is someone’s kid. It is never your kid until it is; then what? I believe that every addict deserves the opportunity to turn it around, to become that person God created them to be. You may not, but ask yourself this; “If it were my kid, would I want them to have that chance.”

For more information on Project Dawn, Narcan and distribution sites, please click on the links below:

Ohio Project Dawn

Cleveland Project Dawn


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