Wednesday August 14, 2019, it was a day like any other. I had taken my 6 year old little boy to work with me, because Summer vacation was still in full swing. We went to a friends’ house after to play in their pool. We were having a lovely time. Except the fact that I was starting to get worried about his father.
I was sitting pool side with my friend as we watched our kids splash about. My son was so proud to be in the deep end. He had just learned to swim without his floaties this year and he could finally keep up with the big kids. One of his favourite things was retrieving the rings from the bottom of the pool. We were all laughing as they were doing cannonballs and chasing each other about.
Then my text message came through. It was my lawyer. My son’s father and I had just finished a pretty lengthy custody… I don’t want to say battle, because we never really fought.. I’ll just say agreement session. I looked down to see. “Katrina!” confused I just responded with “yes?”. The next text struck me hard, “I just heard about Neil”….. “What about him?!?!?!”. Then he told me that he’d call me.
I asked my friend to watch the kids and apparently the look on my face was enough for her to not even question me. I’m not sure that I took a breath between that text and answering the phone call that came through. “I got a call from his lawyer. The people at Neil’s house found him in his room at about 3pm… I’m so sorry. He passed away.”.
I couldn’t grasp it. My eyes welled with tears. I was in shock. Disbelief. Angry. Heartbroken.. all of it. I knew something was wrong.. I didn’t know it was this.
My son’s father was an addict.
We had been through 10 years together. The first 3 were amazing. The next 4 were challenging.. and the last 2 were mostly through the courts. He had been sober for 22 months. We had just signed the final court papers 2 weeks before. We were friends again. We were looking forward to working on our family together. We had the brightest future that we had in years.. and now he was gone.
My friend saw that my face had gone white and he asked what had happened. I looked at her and mouthed, “He’s gone”. She mouthed back, “dead?”. I nodded. We both looked over at my 6 year old. He was laughing and playing and completely unaware that his whole life was about to change.
I spent the next 2 hours making phone calls. I called Neil’s parents. My son’s therapist. My brother.. my aunt.. anyone.. everyone. I kept saying it out loud. “Neil is dead”. I kept waiting for someone to say, “no.. there was a mistake.. they found him in time. He’s in the hospital, but fine.”. That message never came in.. that call was never made. Neil was dead. Neil is dead. After almost 2 years of sobriety my biggest fear came true, and I had to be the one to tell our sweet little boy that his father was gone forever.