Erik Lee Blom
November 15, 1984 - May 1, 2014
I am writing this 26 months after the loss of my son, Erik. The heroes that face this with me everyday are my husband, Dan, my daughter, Chloe, and her fiancé, Clete. Erik’s death has devastated us. He was an extremely gifted and creative young man whose keen wit and empathetic heart is missed everyday. He came into this world via emergency C-section due to a prolapsed cord birth. He left this world having undergone a mental health crisis that led to a relapse and accidental heroin overdose.
Erik felt everything deeply from the beginning. He was a sensitive boy. When he was 6 weeks old I went back to work and his grandmother provided him with the best day care imaginable. She died when he was in 2nd grade; I am pretty sure his heart broke that day and never healed. He suffered from severe ear infections throughout childhood and in middle school his tonsils were removed. I often wonder if a day went by when he was without physical or emotional pain.
He began to abuse substances in 7th grade. Chloe remembers the day he made the mistake of wearing bike shorts to school--he was bullied everyday after that. Eventually, he made a conscious decision to be tougher than anyone else and his tender heart began to harden with the belief that it was best not to feel--never to cry. He was intelligent, frustrated, and bored. The school thought he would benefit from being challenged in a gifted class and it did seem to help some, but he would still disappear to a place that we couldn’t seem to reach. Erik’s depression and anxiety kept him off-balance and he started self-medicating with marijuana before moving on to Xanax and Lortab. Pills were easy to get. Kids took them from their parents bedside tables and traded on the bus. Erik was arrested at school during his senior year for public intoxication. He went to jail and then to rehab. He was put on probation for a year. The summer after rehab Erik and his sister worked at a kids camp together and our family had a summer to remember--we had our son back.
In the fall of 2003 Erik started college as a double major in graphic design and print making. He was being treated for Bipolar II but his anxiety and depression weren’t being managed properly and he went back to self-medicating with marijuana. From early childhood coloring contests to his mastery of printmaking, Erik was always driven to share his life through art. This process of creation became an act of rebellion against the demons that plagued him. Five months after graduating, Erik was one of the many graduates unable to find work during the economic crash. He moved home and began working for his father who is a luthier (stringed instrument artisan) and owns his own business. Erik was simultaneously grateful and hopeless.
He used heroin for the first time one week before his 26th birthday. The group of people who helped him shoot up for the first time then had to spend 45 minutes reviving him. He survived. He told me that when he used that day, he felt no pain for the first time since he could remember. He would go on to chase that feeling for three years. He never found it again. Instead, he found an addiction that brought him to homelessness, got him work as a confidential informant, landed him in jail, lost him friends and at times, his family, caused unthinkable trauma, and ultimately death.
On April 30, 2014, Erik had been clean and sober for 6 months but his mood disorder was out of control. The psychiatrist prescribed him two weeks of Klonopin but he took all of it in two days. His agitation progressed and turned into outright rage. We called the police in hopes that he would be admitted to the hospital to stabilize, but he didn’t have health insurance and presented as well enough, so they released him. When he came back home things got even crazier and we called the police again. Erik went to stay with a friend who he pressured to take him to a dealer. Erik shot up in the car and then again in the bathroom. Chloe got a call from a detective at 2:22 a.m. He told her we needed to get to the ER asap. When we arrived they told us that Erik was dead upon arrival. That was Thursday, May 1, 2014. That was the day our lives changed forever.
Our family created a Facebook group called “Erik Lee Blom - A Wonderful Epic Life” to help us process the loss. Here are some entries:
Erik’s sister, Chloe, May 15, 2014: “Today was a hard day for all of us. A heaviness set in when his remains arrived home. His war has ended but it's hard to forget the many battles we fought alongside Erik. What makes this so incredibly difficult is that we were all at peace, and the time to rebuild was finally here. Even though we were well aware of his weaknesses, this truly caught us off guard...he left us way too soon. It is impossible for me to wrap my head around this loss…”
Erik’s Dad, Dan. June 30, 2014: “This morning as I was getting ready to head out to the shop I opened a drawer and I saw your wallet lying there. It stopped me in my tracks. Immediately I was reminded that you were gone and you wouldn't be showing up for work today. I couldn't help picking it up and looking through it for something that would explain to me why you are gone. Your driver’s license--your money is still in there.
Sure am going to miss your talent and skills, but I am missing you a whole lot more. Tears started filling my eyes as I laid it back down. Then I noticed the little brown box with the heart on it. Inside was a lock of your hair tied with a little blue ribbon. Made me remember the first time I saw you and how my heart swelled with pride and love for my first born, my son. My red-haired boy. Your mother used to come home every time she took you shopping and tell me about the people (mostly grandmas) that would ogle over your good looks.
How was I going to make it through this day, another day, without you? When I got to my bench I decided to pray. I asked god to help me, to guide my hands, my eyes and my mind so I could work. I entrusted him with my heart even though it is broken. I prayed for your Uncle Jerry and his family, for your Grandpa Blom, for Karla Henry, your cousin, Abby, and Auntie Von. I thanked him for friends like Jennifer Sutton who cut a lock of your hair and gave it to us and all of the friends who have supported and loved us during this time. I asked him to help me know how to care for your Mom and Sister and thanked him for giving them to me.
Then I got interrupted and went on with my day. At 5:30 I realized I had made it through another day. Sort of. There is something missing each day and it's you. The reason I make it through is because as I pray, others are praying for us. We have been loved by so many. I am forever changed by all of this. The good and the bad. Everyday another step, hopefully forward, but with a limp.
Missing and Loving You every moment,
Chloe. December 15, 2015: “Not that everything's about me but a thought just hit me and I began to well up with tears. I sometimes wonder if the responsibility Erik felt for protecting me was something he was conscious of while his life was slipping away. I wonder if he knew it was happening and thought, "Oh shit. I'm leaving her here. No...wait." I wonder how long he sat there on the toilet before anyone thought to check on him--no blame--just trying to account for every second of his last breaths on this earth. How the paramedics were called how long it took them to realize it was serious. Would there have been a chance if he had Narcan? How he thought that the needle in his arm would keep him away from all the pain he caused that day...these are my adventures in wonderland.”
My entry on December 31, 2015: “Today we received news that another family lost their son the day after Christmas. I don't know the details surrounding his untimely death. What I do know is that another family just began a journey that we have been on for 20 months.
20 months, how can it be?...
Sending a Happy New Year wish to each of you. We continue to look for ways to rebuild our lives. The past two years that have been unbelievably hard. We are recovering from my job loss, from Erik's death, and Chloe is rebuilding after a year with a broken back and major surgery. I am pretty sure Santa didn't get too many letters that asked to have our last two years. They tell you to not make any major decisions after the death of a child. Well that is all we have had to do is make one major decision after another. So here’s to 2016. Praying that God has one calm day after another in our future. I think we have had enough excitement."