On December 4, 2022, with a broken heart and an empty soul, I gave this eulogy for my son Gershon who died of a drug overdose on November 30, 2022
I stand here today with a broken heart. I don’t know how I’m going to live on without Gersh. Even though he has been struggling with addiction for 19 years, I was not ready for him to die. I felt so bonded to him through it all. I am devastated. Gershon had a lot of bad breaks in his life with the drugs taking over – crushing and consuming him. He tried so hard to beat the addiction over 19 years with the detoxes, rehabs, counseling, halfway houses and sober living. He even helped others with the same problems. However, he never seemed to be able to get ahead and turn it around. As the years went on, his friends deserted him, jobs didn’t work out and relationships failed. Through it all, he still tried and persisted. He was upbeat and always had another plan. Sometimes he was angry, blamed others for his fate in life and was depressed. And the drugs like a cancer got him in the end. Now I feel this emptiness that will never leave. I have to tell myself that Gersh lived a full 38 years.
Let’s go back. We named our beautiful boy Gershon after my father Gershon who died in 1970. As a baby, he and Sarah were the cutest. They hung out together since the get go. They were bonded. They were joined. A blond hair, blue eyed gorgeous child, he was charming and a ladies’ man from the start. I remember him at three years of age telling me over and over again, “Mommy, you’re so pretty.” At age five, Gershon was chosen to be in a feature article about children’s names in the Miami Herald. He had good times with friends in school, Hebrew School, camp and traveling. He had talent in art and played a mean guitar. Gersh did a spectacular job along with Sarah on their B’nai Mitzvah. In addition, he along with his band members performed a few cool songs at the event. Many of you here today attended their B’nai Mitzvah and have been in our lives forever. His Bubbie, my mother, was especially proud of him. Gershon and Sarah were such stars and made a fantastic team. In those years we also went to NJ many times to see our family. We spent many times walking the boardwalk in Atlantic City where he had many an adventure. He once made $100 for skinny dipping on a dare in the Atlantic Ocean. And he also met a variety of characters. He had a flair for fashion and always looked the part. Sometimes he was a character. As a teen, he would go to Johnny Rockets in South Beach and claim it was his birthday every three months until the manager got wise. By the same token, he would repeatedly get a lot of free samples from Sephora until they booted him out of the store. As a family we traveled to St. Thomas a few years ago where he loved to shop and haggle in the open markets. Unfortunately, he had a propensity for accidents whether they involved his car, e-bike, scooter or skateboard. He was always getting banged up.
Gersh had many different jobs. He worked as a painter, a stocker, a plumber’s assistant which naturally he hated saying it was too shitty, a roofer despite the fact he was afraid of heights, a driver and he also worked in Macy’s fulfillment center. Plus, he had some underworld jobs.
While in rehab, he wrote songs, poetry and verse in his journals. He wrote, “I am worthy because I am a good and caring person. I am worthy because I never give up even through the hardest and toughest of times I’ve had in my life. I am worthy of having another dance in life and to better myself to have a good life.” Yes, definitely you were worthy, Gersh. He also wrote, “This addiction has got to break. It’s cost me so much pain.”
In another journal I found that he wrote about his desperation about a friend who died,
“Four years ago my girl got put in the ground.
Her war is over, Now she’s safe and sound
I wish she could look down on me and be so proud
But that’s not the case because I’m going down, down, down
Wanna hear something that’s so damn sick
I look at her picture as I take a hit
Hoping my heart will stop and I will fall
We could start a new life where we stand tall
Not going down, down, down
I already been here 3 damn times
Obviously, something ain’t right cuz I’m still not fine
Maybe I’m that sicker one or I don’t wanna
Stop, maybe I’ll keep on running until I drop
Going down, down, down
So I admit ya I need some help
Cuz I tried many times to do it myself
And I’ll admit ya I’m not that tough
Cuz one to many a thousand is never enough”
He truly wanted to beat it but in the end the drugs killed him. Addiction is a disease. It’s a monster. I learned that I didn’t cause it, couldn’t control it and couldn’t cure it. And that proved true in Gershon’s case.
Unlike a lot of mothers and sons, we spoke every day and saw each other often – shopping, talking, quarreling and eating. Every night Gershon texted me “Goodnight Mom. I love you.” and likewise I texted him back. I never gave up on you, Gershon. On the night he died, I didn’t receive a text. I was hoping, “He’s 38 and he doesn’t need to text me every night.” The next morning he didn’t pick his phone and then we found him. It was the saddest day of my life. Gershon’s struggles and suffering are over. Ours continues. My hope that things would get better is gone forever.
Rest in peace my beloved son. I will always love you.
Love you forever,