Updated: Mar 6
By Jonathan's mother, Karen
I lost my son to heroin on September 26, 2015.
Jonathan was a sweet young man who started off on a rocky note when he was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma cancer at the age of four. He battled this for a year and a half, which involved invasive treatments such as a stem cell transplant. His prognosis was very grim, but thanks be to God he made it and entered Kindergarten right before his 6th birthday.
It took a long time for his stamina to improve after undergoing such intensive treatment and as a result, he was bullied as a child. He just couldn't keep up the other kids during activities. This made him compassionate towards others who were less fortunate than he was, and he would take up for these people or help them in anyway he could. He trusted Jesus at an early age. When he was going through treatment he would say, "Don't worry about me, if I die I will just go live with Jesus.”
During his teenage years he felt left out and like he didn’t fit in with his peers. He struggled with academics due to what he had been exposed to during the cancer treatments. He was forced out of private school because of this learning disability. He went to public school his junior year, and in trying to fit in he fell in with a crowd he should have stayed away from. As soon as he turned 18, he dropped out of school during his senior year.
Jonathan was passionate about basketball and cooking. He never excelled at basketball because, again, he just couldn't keep up. He suffered from severe back pain due to radiation. But he knew stats about basketball that you wouldn’t believe. He loved a lot of NBA teams, but his favorite was Miami Heat (we buried him in his Heat jacket). He could cook anything; he was an avid food network watcher and could have given some of those people a run for their money. He watched “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” and loved to eat at the places where Guy, the host, did his shows. His dream was to become a chef.
Sometime between the ages of 18 and 20, Jonathan was introduced to Xanax, I assume it was in order to ease his back pain. From there he got into heroin. I don't know when he started because he was good at keeping it a secret from our family. He came home last year in April and stayed home all summer. He never went anywhere, he just hung out at home watching cooking shows and basketball games. In August he started working at Pizza Hut. Around the middle of the month he was called by some friends who didn’t have a car and needed a ride to the hospital--they were about to have a baby. Two weeks later he spent the Saturday of Labor Day weekend with these two women and their newborn. They went to the local skate park that evening to buy heroin. According to his friends, Jonathan went into the restroom to use and when he emerged he was unable to walk. The women helped him into his own car and then drove him around for 2 or 3 hours thinking that he would sleep it off. Finally, they drove him to the ER and dumped him in front of the door. By this time, his body tissue was dying and his organs were shutting down. My precious son was in a coma for 20 days and died 6 days after his 21st birthday.
Jonathan was always a people person. He would and could strike up a conversation with anyone; he felt just as comfortable talking to a politician as he did a homeless man. When he was only three years old he wanted to buy “a Daddy” for orphans in Brazil. We found this out after he asked what we gave Jesus for Christmas and I explained that we helped others less fortunate than us. We had donated money at our church that year for missionaries in Brazil. In fourth grade he became friends with a boy who got picked on worse than he did.
No, he did not deserve to die this way, but when the Lord allowed me to keep him after battling cancer, he told me something would happen to Jonathan later on. I did not know what it would be, but on September 6, 2015, I found out. I thank God that I had 16 extra years with my son. I love and miss Jonathan everyday and always will until I see him again.