My son Anthony DeMaria lost his battle with heroin on March 30, 2014.
The day Anthony was born was the best day of my life. Little did I know what the future would hold for my son and our family .
Anthony was so energetic, curious and full of life when he was a child. His dad and I were divorced, so he spent weekends with his dad. Anthony played in baseball, football, wrestling and motocross. He excelled at anything he put his mind to.
On July 7, 2007, Anthony was participating in a motocross race when he had an accident that left him with a broken femur. After a rod was placed in Anthony’s leg, he spent months in physical therapy. I was told that the femur was the hardest bone in the body to break; and also the most painful, requiring pain medicine pretty much continuously.
This was the beginning of my son’s addiction and our nightmare.
Anthony went to treatment center after treatment center. He had short stints of sobriety and many relapses. Anthony did not want to die.
Anthony had been in recovery for almost a year - he was doing everything right. However, one night he made the fatal decision to use “just one more time.” Anthony met up with some friends that were having a party in a hotel. There was heroin was at the party, and Anthony decided to use it. The girl that provided the heroin decided to leave him after he exhibited distress. My son died on the hotel room floor, all alone.
Every day I wonder, did Anthony know he was dying? Did he think of his son? Or me, his mother? His brother? Or even his Dad and stepmom?
Anthony is and was so loved. This isn’t suppose to happen. The pain of losing a child is so gut-wrenching and it never goes away. I know Anthony's father will never recover from losing his only child; the pain is too great. There are days that I still can’t believe that my son is not here. I grieve every day for my son, a life that was cut so short by a disease that is taking a whole generation.
I stayed in a severe depression for almost a year, then I became angry and I decided to use my pain to help others.
In 2015, I started a nonprofit in my son’s name called "Anthony's Way." We do outreach on the streets of Baltimore County and Carroll County in Maryland, helping the homeless, or anyone who suffers from addiction, find recovery. We fund detoxification programs, residential treatment, recovery houses, and monthly Vivitrol shots. To date, we have helped over 70 people find and begin the road to recovery.
I pray every day that Anthony knows how much I loved him. I like to remember his beautiful smile, the pranks he always played on me and his brother, his enormous shoe collection, and his unique clothes. But mainly I like to remember his big heart, his kind ways, and his love for life. I remember him dancing in my kitchen and laughing. I would give anything to hear that laugh again. Anthony could literally light up a room.
I hope Anthony is looking down and sees the work we are doing in his honor. I will never let the world forget my beautiful son. I think of him every minute of every day since he left this world.