Last Friday, I posted one of the most intense and statistically successful blogs I have EVER posted…I couldn’t even believe the support. So many views, so many emails and positive comments. SO much positivity. Then..a crushing blow, an email from my best friend saying she never wanted to speak to me again. “Okay” — I thought..I guess it’s time to put on the Taylor and Shake It Off as best I can..but it still put a little of a damper on the weekend.

Then Saturday night I finally get a little mama time and get to see my friend Katie for a drink and dinner around the corner at Trio. I get home, get in my car, go grocery shopping and talk to Mike to hear that Ellie has a fever, again. And this time, it ended up being higher so off to the ER we go for the second time in two weeks for her. She had such a violent reaction to the medicine that Mike and Cammy had to drive up there and bring us both a change of clothes..it was so scary. Just a bad night.

We didn’t go to sleep until 4am. It was an OFF day big time, and something felt off the entire time beyond the sick baby and other blows. Sunday morning we all woke up really late, around 10, because we were exhausted. I just…….couldn’t get off the couch. I couldn’t get up. I told Mike, “Hey , I’m really sorry but can you just make me a water? And breakfast? And can you bring everything to me? I can’t get up..I just don’t feel like it.” — Not completely typical for me. Something felt off.

I know why now. My brother was dying then, slipping away thanks to the horrible drug, heroin. I remember getting in the shower in the afternoon finally, telling myself to perk up and seize the day. I sat down to create the online pricing guide for Skype Mentoring Sessions and got the text from my sister on the Mac, “Tony’s dead”. We knew this day would come but he hoped for better. We wanted him to live and be with his son and make a good life for himself. We wanted him to stop the back and forth drug use. And instead, my poor grandma who has been through more than ANY person I know had to find him like that in the bathroom at her home.

Drugs are so incredibly terrible. They’re so dark, dirty and scary. They’re a nightmare for EVERYONE involved. In 2009, I had one of the best bosses I could ever have hoped for when I was a medical biller at a Gastroenterology office…and she saw me melt down when my brother almost died and was hospitalized for overdosing again. She told me something I needed to hear in her office that day and told me that I had to let him go. I HAD to let him go because if I didn’t..the quality of my life would always suffer. People like this continue to take their family members on a roller coaster ride..giving them false hope and then pulling them back down too fast and when they’re not ready. He will continue to lie and use. And one day, he would die.

And now he’s gone. I know I want to write a blog post honoring him soon, I do..but right now I’m SO mad. I’m mad and sick to my stomach with visuals of how this must have looked. And of my grandma seeing him. She put up with this for so long…and he had only been out of jail for four days. His status was “I feel like a million bucks!” last Wednesday. I’m thinking right now of his son and his son’s mother, my mom and especially my grandma who kept him alive for this long.

If you are doing drugs or know someone doing them..just tell them you love them anyway, even if you’re SO MAD you can’t stand it. Even if they lie, steal, do awful things. I just don’t know if he knew that I loved him, but I did so much. We hadn’t talked for a year because I was so scared to have my daughters around that version of him.. and last month I told Mike I was thinking about going to see him in jail because “one day something could happen and I wanted to make sure he knew I cared” — and now it’s too late, and I never got the chance. And I will just have to live with that forever.

I wish all of my posts could end happy..this one is so rough, I know. I will do everything I can to turn this really unfortunate life situation into something positive and into a great lesson to share and blog about occasionally…and I will find a way to honor him, but right now I’m just so angry and so disappointed.

Regarding the incredible donations for the cremation, funeral expenses & obituary..thank you friends and industry colleagues so incredibly much for pulling together what you did and for those who went to the Go Fund Me site, too– seriously. Seriously. I just went through and read all the names and I just can’t even believe it. We certainly don’t deserve all of this. I can’t even say thank you enough because we didn’t expect that at all. It does make things easier and it means the world to us. THANK YOU. THANK YOU!!! 

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Posted by:amandahedgepeth

Hey there! We're a husband and wife team who has the honor to document inspiring wedding days for the most cheerful couples around. We have three daughters lovingly referred to as the mermaid mafia and we love nothing more than salty beach days, laughing as much as possible and living the simple, good life.

27 replies on “Our Brother Tony | Personal

  1. Amanda, you have always been and continue to be one INCREDIBLY strong woman. I am so sorry for your loss, yet profoundly grateful for your transparency. What you and your family are enduring right now resonates with so many people…including me. What the devil is trying to use for bad, God is going to use for good. Sharing your story…Tony’s story will help save someone. It will help save a family. You and your family will be stronger for this and for that display of strength, I thank you. I pray God continues to keep you and overwhelms with you the calm of the ocean, the clarity of an ocean’s breeze and warmth of the sun. I love you all so much!!!

  2. dear amanda, I am so deeply saddened by this…it sort of kicked me in the guts when I saw the post online the other day. my heart goes out to you and to your entire family and especially your sweet grandma. many thoughts, prayers and an abundance of hugs coming your way and my deepest sympathies. <3 <3 <3 <3

  3. As bad as it sounds, you can’t blame yourself for not going to see him. You just can’t! It’s not healthy and it’s not right. 🙁 You made the right decision. I have never heard someone say that they didn’t have any regrets when someone they love dies. I just got a chance to read your other blog post that you wrote recently about the past trauma in your life and you had every reason to push your brother into your past and to make a fresh start. Drug use and abuse can pull someone in and never let them go and it’s terrible but you can’t spend your life pulling yourself down. He needed to want serious help and to then find his control to pull himself from that. Don’t beat yourself up!! It sounds as if your entire family dealt with this the best they knew how. My family’s thoughts, prayers, and love are still with you all while you work through the grief process.

  4. I am so very sorry you’re going though all of this. It’s awful. Horrible. I fee bad for your entire family. No one should have to go through this. But I agree with what Caitlin just said. You CANNOT blame yourself for not going to see him. It would not have made any difference. I know you feel bad about it; we humans tend to always do the “would-a, should-a, could-a” , as I have written in my book in the section on grief and guilt. It would not have changed a thing. Because we love we want to make everything “right” for those we love. Sometimes we can and sometimes we can’t. This was his decision, unfortunately. He didn’t want to change and no one outside of the Lord could have made him change. All you can do is remember the good times, love on your loved ones, and walk through the process of grief. It’s not easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. If you ever want to just talk, I’m here. We love you!

  5. A friend loves at all times. Not just when it’s convenient or when you agree or whatever else. You have many friends who love you and will continue to do so no matter what.

    I’m keeping you in my heart and prayers through the loss of your best friend as well as the loss of your brother. I learned a long time ago that we cannot change or save someone who is not ready to change or save themselves for themselves. I understand your grief for the “could have been” and your heartache for the “what was”. You are not alone and you did everything you could do. Be strong pretty momma, we are with you.

  6. Amanda, I don’t really know you, but you and your sister went to high school in the same time span that my girls went. Reading this blog is incredible. I too had a daughter who was a drug addict and praise God, she is now in recovery and has been for several years now. I know how hard this must be for you. My other two daughters commented the other night after reading your post, that that same post could have been written by them about their sister had she not gotten clean. I so wish, your brother could have found that road to recovery before it was too late. I know you are feeling so angry now as I felt that way for many years as my daughter was out on the street. I pray that you will be able to let go of that anger. May God wrap his arms around you and your family and let the healing begin. God bless you.

  7. Your gracefulness in this situation is beautiful. In the wise words of Daniel Tiger, “It’s okay to feel sad sometimes… little by little you’ll feel better again!” I hate that you’re in the midst of these sad (and angry) days, but I love that you know one day it’ll get better. One day, life will feel normal again. In the meantime, you’re helping others through your brave words and sharing your feelings. <3

  8. Amanda, we have never met but I know your family very well. I went to high school with your mother, grew up watching your grandfather onTV, I knew your uncles and your grandmother could probably tell some stories about me.

    I understand your anger and frustration with Tony. I deal with a similar issue with my son. Tony’s demons are no longer fighting him and he is at peace now. I’ve always thought a particular song would be appropriate for my son should he pass before his time and I want you to listen to it thinking of Tony. “I can see clearly now” by Jimmy Cliff reminds me of someone in pain no longer. Dancing down the road to touch the hand of God. Free.

  9. Amanda, you are such an inspiration and incredibly strong woman, mother and sister. Hope you know you have a lot of support and you can let me know if you need anything. You, Mike and the girls and in my thoughts and prayers.

  10. You are in my prayers Amanda, as well as your family! I recently lost a cousin I grew up with due to a heroin overdose and it is so painful, sad, and angering at the same time. I didn’t talk to her much the past few years because of the lifestyle she was living, it was hard. I took pictures for her days before it happened and told her we needed to see each other more, but that didn’t get to happen. I constantly wondered “what if I tried to hang out and see her more, give her some positivity, could that have made a difference? Could I have helped her stop using? No, the only person that could do that was her! It took a while for me to let that sink in, but the pain does ease! Don’t kick yourself for not going to see him-he is clean and in a safe place now, wrapped in Gods arms and no longer fighting those demons. Dancing with angels and looking down, watching over you and those precious girls! Thank you for your bravery in posting this, you will help so many. Hugs!!

  11. Amanda, my condolences to you and your family on the loss of your brother Tony. Such a tragedy, so young. I recently started following your blog and posts. You don’t know me but we are still connected in some way…we both love an addict. And only someone in our shoes can truly understand what that’s like….the emotions of guilt, sadness, anger, embarrassment, bitterness, fear. We want to fix them. But we didn’t cause it, can’t control it and can’t cure it. But it still hurts I was married 25 years to an alcoholic before he walked out on our family and eventually divorced. It’s been almost 4 years and my 3 kids and I still feel the effects everyday, it doesn’t go away. You don’t stop loving the person but at some point you have to distance yourself because they will drag you into their chaos. So don’t beat yourself up for not seeing your brother, you had to take care of you. He knew you loved him. Thank you for sharing your story and feelings. I used to be embarrassed about my addict but then realized that no family is perfect and we all have a story to tell. And many times I’ve shared my story with the hope of helping others but realized it’s helped me heal as well. And in the hardships of the last 4 years, and there have been many, it has brought me closer to God and I’ve relied on Him to help me through. Praying that you find strength and peace during this difficult time.

  12. Amanda, we have never met but like many i went to school with tony and pretty much stayed in contact afterwards. i am so sorry for your loss! My thoughts and prayers are with you and the family.

  13. Amanda, you don’t personally know me but I want to take a few minutes of my time and tell you I’m sorry for your loss and the pain you and your family is going through currently. May God give you the strength to overcome this anger you’re feeling. He is in a much better place and even though the cause angers you, it’s ok now. Put aside those thoughts and feel the warmth that this doesn’t need to be a worry any longer. God does things in weird ways to make us learn and unfortunately it gets to the better of us. Talk to him in your prayers, he can hear you. I send the biggest, gigantic heart felt hug to you all!! My thoughts and prayers are with you to stay strong, positive and to continue being the loving human being that I see in you, in everything you bring day in and day out. You’re an inspiration and a remarkable wife and mother. I love you, even though I have never met you. You’re just simply that wonderful!!

    -Kristen E.

  14. I wrote this poem a few years ago, just thought I would share….

    “Your Guardian Angel”

    The moment I passed on
    You were standing all around
    You came to me one by one
    As I tried to touch the ground.

    I reached for your hands
    As you each held mine so tight
    It was more than I could stand
    When I suddenly took flight.

    I then was pulled away from you
    Though I fought it all the way
    I guess I always knew
    That this would be my hardest day.

    If it helps, then you should know
    Though you cannot see
    Where ever you should go
    Your Guardian Angel will be me.

    In loving memory of Tony.
    Amanda, if you need anything, just let me or Jessica know.

  15. Hey Amanda, Someone told me about your story and it just broke my heart. I’m so sorry to hear about your brother. There are no words. I’m also sorry to hear about your friend too…that stuff can be heart-wrenching. Just a few days after you give your life back to the Lord, the devil does everything he can to get you angry at God again. Reading your posts, I’m so proud of your honestly, bravery, and the hope you are clinging onto that God can make something positive out of this situation. Take comfort, God loves you. He is good. He didn’t want your brother to die. He loves your brother. He died for your brother! He is close to you right now. He says he is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18) Praying for you and your family.

  16. Just wanted to send love and encouragement from a complete stranger who can understand what you are going through. This February will be two years since my brother passed away from an overdose. It’s an anniversary I don’t look forward to, although I know his passing means he is finally free of his demons and I believe I will see him again one day. My family was constantly on edge expecting something like this to happen, and now my parents can finally have peace as well, instead of constantly worrying about their son, and my sister and I got our parents back. I say all this because hopefully you feel the same way about your brother and I appreciated reading your story and having someone to relate to. I hope your wounds and heart continue to heal as you draw closer to God. Bless you and your precious family.

  17. Reblogged this on Memories and Treasures and commented:
    My dear friend Amanda knows grief. She knows the pain of losing a sibling to drugs. When this was posted I cried for her and her entire family and I still do. However, she is a wonderful example of how faith can triumph over grief. May all of you be blessed and comforted by her story.

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