As I am writing you this letter, while sitting at Starbucks in Cameron Village, ironically, Officer Dufresne, Officer Wilke, Officer Black, and one more officer from the Southwest City of Raleigh police district walked in for a coffee break.
Life is so much harder without you here. My heart hurts every second of every day without you. I’m not sure what pushed you to continue doing drugs when you knew how much Josie and I needed you with us here on earth. I often blame myself for your death, every day that goes by, I blame myself. I blame myself because I said to you back in late October 2017 that sometimes i wish you were dead because I just can’t live with the chaos these drugs are always causing in our lives —> yours, mine, and Josie’s.
I know you are free from the feeling to constantly feel numb —to stop the “spinning tops”in your head to stop the negative thoughts – to stop all the memories of arguments between me and your father. Again, still wanting to blame myself. In order for me to move on with my life, I am offering up another apology —please forgive me. Please forgive me for not fighting harder for you the weekend you died, for not seeking you out after you told me you were going to “break my neck” for telling the officers at the downtown City of Raleigh jail (Wake Criminal Justice Center on Salisbury Street), that you went into jail high as a kite, high on multiple drugs, but mostly Xanax and Oxycodone (“Roxys” is what you called them). You were slurring your words, flirting hard with all the girls in Whole Foods, saying inappropriate sexual comments in front of me, your mom. I reminded you that you have a serious girlfriend and should not be flirting with other girls —you were that messed up —you had no sense of morals, no sense of guilt for putting it all out there.
And, I was so embarrassed by your actions and even more embarrassed that you were in your sleepy flannel pants that I gave you for Christmas, a t-shirt, and running shoes with no laces. Your shoes were flopping off of your feet. No laces in jail —no way to hang yourself —how ironic, right? They are worried about you killing yourself, yet they don’t know the symptoms of drug use when weekend prisoners enter the jail. Your mom called to report your drug use because I didn’t want you to die in jail —that’s what I was really worried about. I guess I should be thankful that you died doing your thing —partying with your friends at a crummy, run-down house rather than dying in jail. And, when you were released from jail, I’m not sure who picked you up that day —maybe your father or maybe you walked to his house. Your father made you wait outside, at the end of his new wife’s driveway to pick up your clothes. Your 13-year-old sister who was staying with your father had to pack up your stuff for you and put it at the street… at the end of the driveway. Josie saw how badly your father and his new wife treated you and it really hurt her. It hurt me to know that now, remarried, your father suddenly had actual house rules that you, Jordan, had to follow. You went from having free run of his bachelor pad for 5 years to living with your father and his new wife and new house rules. The move happened in mid-September, right after your father decided to get married on my birthday. You immediately called me when you moved in with them, after only 2 weeks, to say —“Mom, can I please live with you? I don’t want to live with dad and his new wife.” My response, which I now regret, was, “Jordan, you can live with me if you follow my rules – no drug use in my home, home by 10 pm during the week and home by midnight on weekends. My rules had not changed since you were a teenager. But, I wish that I would have said, “Yes, Jordan, please come live with me. Let’s develop a new plan and figure out a way to make it work to help you get healthy, get off drugs, get away from friends that were selling and using.” I have so many regrets and not embracing you wanting to live with me is one of them. I was so afraid of you being a negative influence on Josie who was just turning 13 at the time.
My four regrets that I want to tell you and ask for your forgiveness are:
- calling the jail
- saying I wish you would die
- not letting you live with me
- sending you to live with your father at 14
But you, with your BIG HEART, said, “Mom —I don’t want dad to be by himself and have to live alone.” You always thought of others first and 3 weeks before your death, you told your friends about your Christian beliefs and how you believed in Jesus. You told them how we are all sinners on this earth and that if we believe that Jesus died for our sins on the cross, our sins would be forgiven. I guess that I’m forgiven for all my past mistakes and regrets. You lived your life, fearlessly, I’m a real chicken shit —I live in fear —especially now that I don’t have you on this earth anymore. I’m trying HARD to let go of all that, to live fearlessly, not caring what others think, like you, my sweet Jordan.
URBAN DICTIONARY: chicken shit
In life and death matters, soldiers relied on their common sense and ignored the chicken shit regulations that their superiors foisted upon them whenever possible.
Jordan —you were a REAL soldier, fighting to go home. That is all you wanted —to go home. You lived in your car sometimes, when your father would kick you out of the house. You often lived in the “in-between here on earth,” not knowing where home was and where you belonged, never really having an earthly place to call home. I’m happy you made it home. I miss you every second of every day. I love you.
This is a picture of me teaching Jordan to ski at Snowshoe in West Virginia. We would often drive there during the winter months to teach Jordan to snow ski when he was just a little boy. He started skiing when he was two years old. When Jordan went to heaven, he was an expert at snow skiing and snowboarding. The second picture is Jordan on his snowboard teaching his sister to ski out west, at Schweitzer, near Spokane, Washington. I did the best I could raising my two children. I am not ashamed of how Jordan died. I will continue to keep Jordan’s memory alive by speaking about this epidemic for the rest of my physical life, here on earth. That is my promise to you, Jordan, and to all the moms out there that have lost their children to opiates and Xanax.
Jonna Winifred Lee is a mom to two beautiful children, Jordan, and Josie Maurer. Jordan is 20 and has lived in heaven for this past year. He died of an opiate and Xanax overdose on January 8th, 2018. Jonna speaks about the opiate and Xanax crisis in her home town of Raleigh, NC. She speaks at local public schools, bookstores, and churches. She started the Red Poppy Crusade this year to connect moms across the US who have lost their children to the opiate and Xanax crisis. You can find her on Facebook; search for the Red Poppy Crusade. Donations for speaking events can be made to the Jordan Cameron Maurer Memorial Fund. If you would like for Jonna to speak at your organization, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.