My brother Mike was, and still is, an amazing human being. He had the most contagious smile and the best hair. He was hilarious, sarcastic, and incredibly witty; he had the most amazing sense of humor. Mike had such a big heart and never spoke bad about anyone. He always had a carefree, laid back attitude. Mike was so intelligent - the kind of person who never had to study but still got A's and B's. He could answer any Jeopardy question - things that make most of us say “Huh?!” Mike could fix any computer problems in five minutes or less, make you feel better on your absolute worst days, make you laugh until you cried and your cheeks hurt. Mike loved going to car shows with our dad. Together, they restored a '57 Chevy the summer before we lost him. Mike and I were best friends since we were young and were always doing things together. We were a close, tight-knit family; seeing him suffer from addiction was heart breaking for all of us.
Mike hurt his back in a car accident and, like many who succumb to addiction, was prescribed pain medication and Xanax by his doctor. One day at the end of 2009, Mike crushed his hand at work in a 20-ton brake press, resulting in the amputation of the tips of three of his fingers. He later underwent five surgeries to repair his hand. The severity of his injury, the numerous surgeries, and pain resulted in increased access to prescription medication that enhanced his addiction.
This was when Mike starting trying heroin. He overdosed twice but made it out alive on both occasions. The first time was in March of 2011 and the second in October of the same year.
For the next few years, Mike struggled off and on with addiction. Finally, things were looking up. He had a new job and was doing great. He was blessed with his first and only nephew six months prior to his passing. Mike had been clean for a year and four months before he relapsed and lost his life on September 20, 2013.
None of us saw it coming, not his friends or his family.
Now, almost three years later, we still struggle with the loss of Mike every single day. He was just the most special human being. The world is a darker place without him. Our hearts go out to anyone who has lost someone to this terrible disease. We love you Mike, and miss you with every fiber of our beings.
We need to crush the stigma behind addiction. It is taking amazing souls who have so much life left to live and so many things to accomplish. My brother was destined to do great things; instead, heroin took him from us.