Love Them Like It Is Your Last Day Together!

by Marilea C. Rabasa
February 17, 2020

At the end of the day, all that matters is love. All we have control over is how we share our love. And instead of counting our losses, at the end of the day, all that can never be taken away from us is our love.

In this month that celebrates all matters of the heart, I am happy to celebrate all the loved ones in my life—most especially my daughter Angie. She is lost to me at the moment, but I can still love her as totally and purely as when she came into the world forty years ago.

Parents struggle and wage a horrendous war against addiction as we watch our children caught in the web of it. We experience so many conflicting feelings, from hush-hush shame to rage against all the pushers of the world; in our powerlessness and frustration we sometimes lash out against our loved ones, telling them to “snap out of it!” Often, we retreat to the seemingly safe harbors of enabling and protecting our children from the dire consequences of their drug-induced behavior. I’ve been to all those places and back again. At first I was so joined at the hip to Angie that I didn’t know where I ended and she began.

About a decade ago, I did find out. And I learned that I needed to detach and let her follow her own path. Eighteen years in recovery rooms have given me some important tools and guidance. In educating myself about addiction, I learned that it is a brain disease. My daughter didn’t choose this life; she’s sick. When I accept this, I realize there is no room in my heart for a number of feelings that get in the way of my better self: judgment, resentment, fear, and guilt. Those four feelings are destroyers of the peace and serenity we all deserve. None of us is perfect, but I can say with certainty that I did my best with what I had. Most of the parents I know are good, well-intentioned people. And many of them are drowning in the sadness of losing a child to this cruel disease. I understand them. Some days I felt overwhelmed and buried myself in grief. If I lived in a bubble, or on the moon, I could isolate myself, cover myself in a cloak of sadness, and who would care?

But over time I have found myself empowered by something stronger than sorrow. There are other voices out there that are calling me. Many voices are my loved ones, but not all. When I forget to put out seeds, my Steller’s jay protests loudly. My deer family, bold and fearless, come right up to my deck. Sunrises slowly transform the Olympics into drizzling ice cream cones as I peer out of my window. Voiceless, maybe, but it’s a sight to behold.

Love is more powerful than any other emotion, and that is the only feeling I am left with, the only one I experience with Angie, at the end of the day. In this way I know, though I’m human and have been through the gamut of all the above emotions, that I have done my best to reach my daughter. And whether or not I’ve been successful, I can rest easy knowing that she knows, if nothing else, that she is loved.

At the end of the day.


Find out more about Marilea here:
Books: A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, written under a pseudonym, Maggie C. Romero; Stepping Stones: A Memoir of Addiction, Loss, and Transformation by Marilea C. Rabasa

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  1. Oh I understand, after years of being pulled to and fro by my choices while my sons lived with this disease I finally began to unravel myself from his life and just love him, nothing more. The last three months of his life were sober. I include my disconnecting from the chaos of his disease and loving my son as part of the reason for the gift of those last 3 sober months. It is worth letting go of the resentment, fear, judgement and guilt. It is very much worth the effort.

    • Absolutely. I’ve seen people get sick holding onto resentments. I’ve learned to let them go, and there’s a lot of freedom in that.

  2. Thank you for this reminder, this affirmation.
    Our daughter is also 40 and deep into her addiction. I do see her on occasion and treat those moments as a gift. It took a LONG time for me to accept that I am powerless over her disease. She KNOWS we love her and I take solace in that

    • That’s it. That’s all we can do. And that’s quite a lot. It’s also the best and the purest feeling. We’ve all been through a gamut of emotions, but being left with love in our hearts is a big victory.

  3. ??????

    • My recovery is based on gratitude. Love and thankfulness go a long way to make our lives better.

  4. Your writing was such a blessing to me this morning! Lost my son Adam to his substance abuse disorder 12 years ago, and since then I have been on a path to honor his memory any way that I can! Your precious words will be shared with the Moms and the families of those in my support group who are currently struggling with a family member in active addiction. Some are so consumed and wear the pain of this disease on their faces constantly. They feel very helpless in the face of their loved one’s disease. Thank You!

    • I’m glad my words have helped. It’s a sad legacy that brings us together, but standing together will empower us to fight the shame and stigma. I would like us to be kinder to one another.

  5. Your story sounds like my story. Thanks for sharing!!

    • We are all, of course, very different from one another. But one thing that unites us our love for our addicted children. That love gives us strength and helps us move forward.

  6. I love this Marilea, and I know you love your daughter and that you have chosen to also go on to love and live life, even though perfection would be to have her healthy and in your life more often.

    • Thank you Sarah. You and I go back so far! And it was in your presence on Tuesday nights that the seed of recovery was planted in me. It took me a long time to surrender and let God, but when I did I became free to live my life more freely—with love and hope for a better tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. You women; mothers and sisters are so strong and wise in the dealings of this monster (addiction) thank you for your inspiring stories. When I read these words of heartache, pain and hope I know we are not alone in this fight. We stand strong together.

    Thank you all for your love, wisdom and sharing.
    Bettie S.

    • For some of us, it takes a long time to let go of the instinct to rescue our children. It’s absolutely counterintuitive to let go! But when I accepted the reality of addiction, I learned how to react differently. There are many ways to help our addicted children. But in the end, they must learn to help themselves if they want to live well. We can only love them, and make sure that they know they are loved.

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