Blackwood, New Jersey
4/11/84 - 9/23/10
Sal was born two months premature on April 11, 1984. As my sister-in-law said after his passing, “He came into this world early and left early.” Sal was a beautiful child with a heart of gold and an old soul. He cared deeply for those around him. If you met Sal once, you were his friend forever. His brother, Vincent, said, “There were so many layers to Sal. At his very core, he was fiercely loyal, loving, sensitive, and moral. To coax a real smile from Sal was the greatest victory, but how beautiful it was!!”
Sal struggled with addiction throughout his time in high school and was ashamed of his disease. After seeking treatment for the first time when he was 18 years old, Sal moved in and out of treatment facilities but didn’t receive proper care because he was never afforded more than 14 consecutive days. We struggled to get insurance coverage for his treatment and put his name on endless waitlists because there weren’t enough beds. Sal desperately wanted to recover but was unable to access the treatment that he needed and deserved.
In 2009, Sal and his longtime girlfriend gave birth to their son, Salvatore. Sal knew that he needed to change his life for the good of his son. In June of 2010, Sal reached out to us again for help, and we reentered the grueling process of making phone call after phone call only to hear the same bad news. In desperation, we told Sal to call another facility but to lie this time and say he was abusing alcohol—it worked. The rep told him to call again first thing in the morning and that there would most likely be a bed available. Sal entered treatment on July 1, 2010, but he was discharged 15 days later because his funding ran out. His release papers marked him “high risk for relapse.” How was recovery going to happen? Once again Sal was faced with the daunting task of making calls. With the help of a family friend, we were finally able to get him into an intensive outpatient program, but meeting for few hours three times per week in a group setting wasn’t enough. Sal needed intensive inpatient treatment.
On September 22, 2010, I arrived home from work and Sal came downstairs freshly showered. We sat and talked for a little while before he left to go to his treatment meeting. When I kissed him goodbye, he told me that he loved me and would see me later – nothing out of the ordinary, he was happy. I can still remember that kiss. At 3:37AM on September 23, 2010, there was a knock on my door. The police told me that Sal was found in my car in Camden - dead from an overdose.
I miss everything about Sal--his quiet, beautiful presence, his kind and thoughtful words. Sal never went to bed without popping his head into my bedroom just to say, "I love you - good night." I miss his quirky smile. Sal and his sister, Blake, used to sit on the back deck just about every night and talk—I miss peeking out the back door and seeing them sitting there together. Sal is forever missed and loved. Sal is not only a Son, but also a Brother, and most importantly, a Father.