Dropped these off at the Harm Reduction Action Center this afternoon. The pictures are from Katie Hughes and I wrote messages on the back of each… they say that grief is your love for that person, that now has no place to go. So at least for today, it had a place to go. I tried to imagine what Charles Everette Hughes III would have wanted to hear, that’s what I wrote down. Maybe hokey, whomever gets the backpack may thinks it’s dumb. Hope not. Anyway, I did ok until I saw his picture… reinforcing that it is real and not a hideous nightmare.
Ok. Change the tone here. Thank you SOSOSO much to those who donated to today’s efforts. Kathy Middleton Danielle Weltman Cindy Johnson Brittany Roberts Mark Mueller Kim Van Wagner Charles Hughes Katie Hughes. I want to do more, so I will be brainstorming on this and share it when I have the plan. #ForChar
At its simplest, it is the Denver needle exchange. At its most, it provides community to those suffering from Substance Use Disorder. See their flier below for more info on HRAC.
I want a chance to explain why I have chosen them. Every morning, after I wake up and consciously realize that he is gone, I think, “Oh Char, if you could have only waited a few more months, our financial situation improved where we could have helped more, treatment would have been available to you” with MAT, with expanded access to treatment etc. I remember listening to Director Lisa Raville at a hearing and she was saying that her place was created to keep them alive until they could get help. SO, much as I approve and support treatment of any kind, my son never got that chance. I couldn’t keep him alive until the cavalry showed up. So, this seems the most appropriate place for me to help.
I would like to start by donating 100 drawstring backpacks that will include the following(all items that Director Lisa Raville says they need the most): 1 drawstring backpack 1 beanie hat 1 pair gloves 1 pair of wool socks 1 toothbrush 1 toothpaste 1 shampoo 1 deodorant 1 soap 1 comb
I found all of these things on Amazon in bulk pricing. Based on bulk pricing and on their projected delivery dates, if I can place the order by December 13, the cost per bag to get these assembled in time for Christmas will be: $10/bag.
In addition to this, I am asking Katie to look through her photo archives and come up with beautiful, inspiring pictures to print on post cards to slip into the bags.
In the donation form, there is a space for you to write a short note that we will include on the other side of the photo card – send words of hope, love and inspiration.
I know that you may be getting hit up with asks from different people, but, I respectfully ask if you would donate $10 to pay for 1 of these bags.
LOL Just one more thing for all the great friends of Charles Everette Hughes III We found the journal that he took with him on his Las Vegas adventure. The one that ended at the San Francisco Occupy protest. Lots of songs, one is finished. But, there is one comment on a page that he had been doodling on.
Here is the comment, which I will pull out regularly to get a chuckle.
“If you knew you were gonna die in 3 sec and your foot itched, would you still scratch it?”
So, some sad things have happened to Katie lately and I was pretty upset about it and for her. It is not my place to discuss the particulars here. But, this is one of those times that she would have contacted Char and they would have gone for a walk, or gone out for coffee and he would help her sort it all out. They did this their whole lives with and for each other. Only now Char is gone, or they haven’t been able to connect yet. So, I thought I would do a ritual meditation, but, it would have to be at home, as it is too cold and too dangerous to go to the tree tonight.
I got my phone, because it has the music on it. Then I cast the circle mentally, I started at the tree and drew it big enough to include Katie too. I explained the situation with Charlie and then asked him to try to contact her again. Katie says that she has never had contact and I don’t think it’s because he doesn’t try. I think it’s because she just hurts too much deep inside to allow anything in, including him.
Anyway, I went through the whole ritual. It didn’t feel as satisying as being at the tree, touching its bark, feeling its ancient heartbeat. Feeling the breeze on my face, watching the water trickle down the rocks and looking out into the sunrise over Green Mountain. But, I could visualize all of that and will get up there as soon as possible to do it for real.
I finished the ritual and went to get a drink of water. When I came back, I heard this scratching sound. WTF? Was there a mouse in the room or what. I bent down to see and noticed that my phone was laying on the floor, and the sound was coming from it. I picked it up and turned it over. It was open to a page on facebook, and it was typing a post on facebook? I freaked out. I couldn’t get it to stop typing. The letters were nonsense, no rhyme or reason. Was I being hacked? SO, I freaked out and turned the phone off. Silence. Wow! That was totally scarey. I crawled into bed, settled in, tried to slow my racing heart. And as I did, I realized that this was not hacking, this was Charlie trying to contact me to tell me that he got the message and would try to reach his sister. Wow. I can just see him sitting in his new existence, talking with Andrew. Man, how can I reach her, how can I tell her I got it? I know, facebook! LOL. I love you Char! Keep trying to reach Katie, she needs you.
Chuck and I were joined by Maggie Rothermell as we attended the Rio Grande Celtic Festival, Bernalillo, NM this weekend. On Monday, we drove home and had planned to visit the Great Sand Dunes, a place I have yet to visit, even though I am a Colorado native. We drove up on the non-traditional road, entering Colorado with a gas stop at Antonito. The pumps were out of gas, the clerk was waiting for the truck. We decided to keep going. But, before we left, I noticed an old guitar in the window. I took a picture, and took this as a sign from Charlie that we were on the right path for the day. It was an old, beaten guitar and I wondered if it had the “soul” that Char always looked for.
I put on earphones to listen to the ritual music and got as far as the next gas station before I had to return to the real world, so I didn’t finish it. In my ritual, and when I am not at the Counsel Tree physically, I visualize a thin chord attaching me to the trunk of the tree. I imagine touching the bark on the trunk like I do when I am actually there. And then I go through the whole ritual in my mind as if I were there. I figure if Char, Daddy, Robin or Andrew see the circle, they can zoom down to it and follow the chord to me. This seems to be comforting and logical to me at the same time.
Anyway, I was irritated that I didn’t get to finish, but, maybe they saw the circle before I had to take it down.
Big, wide high plains surrounded by distant mountain peaks. Every mountain had a glistening white cap of snow, it was windy and the thick clouds had covered the sky. May be May, however, it was very wintery. As we turned the corner, we saw the dunes. Under a deep dark rain cloud, the color of the dunes were more like a deep purple. Where the sun tried to peek through, the dunes were shiny and almost white, almost like snow. From a distance, it looked like a stream snaked its way along the outer edge. When we actually got to the parking lot, the stream was actually very wide, very shallow and barefoot people were walking in it to get the the dunes. The people on the dunes looked like little ants crawiling up the face.
I am glad we came here, and I will return again as there is so much to explore… dunes, creek, Zappata Falls and hikes into the mountains. However, we had to leave soon after we got there, to make it home in time for the weeks work. Maggie and I walked up to the waters edge, took our pictures with Charlie and then I released some of his ashes at the waters edge. I wanted them to land on the bank and in the water. I wanted to think about how his ashes would eventually float down the rivers and finally into the ocean. And I know that this is one place Charlie would have liked.
On our way back to the RV, 4 huge hawks were circling overhead. I wanted to take their picture, but, they did a couple beautiful, sweeping turns, tilted in so I would see them in their full glory, and zoomed off towards the dunes. I waited, but they were gone. As we were driving away, I was a little sad that they didn’t hang out. But, then, I realized that they had followed the chord, dipped into the area, made sure that I knew that they knew, and then went back to their new lives.
When I come back, I will do a full ritual and maybe they will come hang out. Until then, they know I love them. And the adventure continues with Charlie Hughes. I love and miss you son, but, now, I know I can reach you in this new way. And at least none of you are in this new place alone.
This album is a dedication to love, loss and growth thru it all. Many times over the last year and so months, there are a few pieces of me lost, and missing.
My brother. Gone too soon some say, a soul continuing on the road others would claim, a musical free bird in the sky, and the breeze that blows with gentle hints of, “I’m still with you.” A bond so strong, that it shall flourish even after one has gone to the other side. I’ll take you with me wherever I go.
My lust, my love for life and almost everything that makes me thrive for the next great thing. Slipping into the day by day, zombie nature of “what does it mean”, “what is the point”, “why is it like this?” Money comes and money goes. Question after question, with no answers in site. Blinded…they tell me, by grief and the blame.
Seek guidance from God, put your thought to the universe, have faith theres a reason that YOU ARE STILL HERE. All things spoken are accepted. Thoughts that seem to linger until I twist them back to whys… and in the end, I wind up back to sitting on the edge of chaos, asking myself, what are you waiting for? A mantra that haunts my dreams yet holds me whole… *sigh*
That being said, this album is not just a dedication, but a journey thru old photos and new to happiness, acceptance, and freedom.
A dedication to myself, to never let go of my happy place, to take photos of every sad, happy, angry, grateful emotion that comes when I think of him, and when I think of myself and who I will become.
I… will wait for it, work towards it, be in it… to the end of time. And when I’m gone, may it live on for others in whatever way they see it to fit for them. One love. –WhatRUWaiting4Photo
So, mom, I have decided to write a blog. I am thinking that it has always worked for you and I know Katie used to write in her journals all the time. Does she still? Remember when we moved and her box of journals got wet and ruined? She was so upset about that.
I think I know why now, even though I didn’t not know why then. Anyway, that is what I am doing. Look, I came up with this picture for the front page.
Do you like it?
I do like it. It is very you. I love the feeling of it. Really, that is all it is, a feeling. Every time I look at it, I get a different feeling…. I see all of your adventures and I feel your excitement about all the adventures you are going to have mext.
I could build the blog for you if you want. A simple journal blog would only take me a few hours to build.
You are so cute. Mom, I told you its not the same here. There is no need for a blog like you build. It”s really too hard to translate… but, just trust me that it is this way. And you can’t do things for me anymore. Anyway, that is one of the things I want to write about – about how I am doing things by and for myself now.
I just want to write my thoughts down and hold them somewhere for awhile. I don’t know why, really, it’s just something I need to do. Maybe so when you get here, we can share, or you can read them and not spend as much time as I did freaking out because you are not there any more. Not sure, but, that is what I am going to do. Gotta run, see you later.
Mom, mom, look!
Katie, what are you doing here?
Look, mom, that big frown is gone. He is not rubbing his forehead trying to get rid of that constant headache.
Look, he is smiling in that old Charlie way. Wow, I can see that he doesn’t have anxiety any more.
Yes, I see. He reminds me of how young Charlie used to be…. happy.
“Mom, mom…ok, finally! You have been so hard to get ahold of, I try all the time, but, it’s just like talking to a rock. Whew, I am glad you heard me just now!”
“Char? I hear you but, I can’t see you, you are scaring me, stop!”
“Oh, I think I know the problem. Ok, so things are different here, it’s all thought. So, just think of me, think of a picture of me. Here, let’s do this. Trust me and hold out your hand. I am going to take your hand, there, now”
“oh, I do see you, loud and clear, you are right there!, Wow!”
“Hi!. I thought I would never get through, your mind is guarded like Fort Knox. You need to lighten up a bit, jeez.”
“I miss you so much”
“I know I know, but, let’s not waste time with that stuff, I am here, you are here and I gotta show you something. See my new guitar? Isn’t she a beaut!”
“I don’t see a guitar.”
“Oh, ok, it’s going to be awhile on this, figuring out what works, ok, until you get the hang of it, you will have to touch me, so, I am putting your hand on my shoulder, so I can use my hands to play for you. There, now can you see it?”
“Char, you crack me up. Even in the afterlife, you pick the most ugliest guitar, just like you did in real life. Why don’t you like shiny, new guitars?”
“Mom, I told you back then it was was because new guitars have no heart, they haven’t been born yet, they are just lumps. Old guitars have a soul, and the first time you play it, you either recognized its soul or you don’t. If you don’t, you have to move on to another one. Anyway, let me play it for you. I have been working on a new song, it’s a power song. I think you will like it…. now…STOP”
“Where I am now is all thought energy, everything runs on thoughts. So, when you are so negative, it feels like you are striking me, it hurts. I know, don’t worry, I was the same way when I first got here. Bout drove Andrew nuts. So, think about your love for me, that will set you on a better thought track…. no, not your pain of missing me, your love of me… ok, that ‘s better. Now, let me share my new song. I have been working on it for awhile and think you will like it.”
“But, I want to know all about where you are now, if you are safe, if you are loved, where are you?”
“Mom, first of all there are some rules, not like on Earth, more like facts that don’t transfer to the Earth, like scientific facts. They just are and you accept them. The first is that everything is a thought. There is no safe, or harm unless you think it. There is love if you accept it. So, whatever we think just is. At first I was outraged and angry and I missed you, dad and Katie like crazy. I cried all the time. Andrew kept guiding me though and I finally got the hang of how to live again.”
“Do you see your grandpa and Robin too?”
“Yes, all the time. I am sure they try to reach you too, but, like I said, your mind is so closed!”
“Wow, I have never been accused of having a closed mind before. How do I keep it open?”
“Just trust. Trust that this is as real as can be and I will be able to get through. Anyway, you are probably going to wake up soon, and then you will be gone. So, will you just trust me for a moment so I can play you my new song?”
“ok, play away, I would love to hear you play again!”
“Ok, remember, it’s thought energy now, so keep your hand on my shoulder, here goes”.
“I don’t hear anything”.
“That’s because I haven’t started…. you are still the same, glad things haven’t changed! Now listen, listen with your heart, not your head.”
“Yeah, it kind of is too big… it kind of doesn’t feel good… why a song of such power, Char stop.”
“ok, well, you and I have lots to learn about how to make this work. I call it a power song, because it speaks to the power of love, that love changes, or shapes, or creates all things. It’s too hard to describe with words. I will keep trying to explain it, if you will trust me and let me in…. mom, I gotta go, this is really wearing me out…I love you…. you are waking up”
Somedays I think I have made it so far, that I have maybe found a path in the darkness. Most days, I crawl from the swamp and claw my way up out of the mud to the light. I dream every night about him. I have never had the types of dreams I have now. So bizarre, and yet so real. And when I wake, the residue of the dream flavors my day. And the first thought is, “he is not here. He is really gone. The worst possible outcome has come to pass”. And I think, “how could this be? how could my beautiful son be gone? how did this happen?”
And I roll over clutching for my husband in pure panic. And he is sobbing in the dark, thinking the same things, feeling the same way, overcome by his own dreams and reality. His best friend, his business partner, the extension of his right arm – is gone. He dreads going to work because it means he will have to come full on with the reality that his partner is gone. GONE.
And our beautiful daughter is so overcome with grief that she can’t make it through the day. She curls up in a ball and cries and blames herself… for what? For loving him. For not being there in his hour of need. For not loving him enough. For not caring enough. And her life has come to a stand still. Her sanity is at stake.
I am normally a very optimistic person, the cup is not only full, it is overflowing. Still the same, only the blood of his life and mine flows over the edge of the glass and pours on the floor. My days used to have vibrant color, a swirl of life, love, happiness, challenge, satisfaction and vibrant vibrant 3 dimensional color.
Now it is a dull shade of grey that weighs on me like a heavy wet cloak. Is this what life will be like from now on?
And still I come out kicking and fighting, saying NO darkness and despair, you can not win. I will not let you take us. I will find a way to fix this, to set it right. I will find a way to save Chuck and Katie. FIGHT, FIGHT. FIGHT. Don’t give up. You can not have us. You can not take us too.
And it is night time. It is time to go to sleep. My eyes hurt, my heart hurts. It is really time to rest. But, I know that if I close my eyes, the dreams will begin. And I will be caught up in a story I can not control or narrate or stop. And when I awaken, the first words I will think are, “it is real. It wasn’t a dream. He is really gone. He is never going to come back. Nothing you say or do can change that. You will never hug him again, or hear his laugh.”
So, fight this for me, because I can’t today. Fight this for Katie, because she can’t pick her head off the pillow. Fight this for Chuck because he sleeps all day in a deep depression and can’t fight his way out of a paper bag.
So, I was dreading this day for a few weeks. I alternated between wanting to bury my head in a pillow all day, or go hiking to stand on a mountain top and scream in protest all day. I settled for a compromise.
I posted pictures of Robin on facebook, from her family albums. Jac had given them to me for safekeeping on the day of her memorial in April of 2016.
I wanted to post them so that Chris, BJ and Jac could see them when they woke up. I wanted them to remember her as the wonderful person that she really was, not as the sick person that theycame to know as their mother.
Then I posted pictures of Charlie and a post about the day he was born:
28 years ago, this hour, I was getting ready to go into Littleton Hospital to give birth to my new child. So excited we all were. Lisa Stavig was in charge of making sure Katie Hughes had a great experience. My mom and dad came down to be with us. At 5:39 pm, our son was born, with the chord wrapped around his neck 3 times. It was a few scary moments and then the doctor lifted him up for us to see… a little blue smurf. They whisked him away to get him oxygen and then gave him to me. As I held him close, Charles Hughesbeaming by my side, little Katie leaned over and gave him a kiss on his brand new cheek. Remember the great times, remember the great times, remember the great times. #ForCharCharles Everette Hughes III
I had originally planned on going for a hike by myself to the Enchanted Forest Trail, one of his favorites. I was going to scatter some of his ashes at the top of the trail, in the cool shadows of the pine trees. Then I wanted to sit down and meditate and try to talk with him. It didn’t happen. I just didn’t want to be alone after all.
So, Chuck and I decided to go to Brainard Lake instead. That way he could fish and I could hike. Why this lake? Well, when the kids were little, we camped here in the RV. That was in the middle of summer, and we were rained into the RV for the first day. The day before that trip, Blackie, our dog, got sprayed by a skunk. After bathing him, we sprayed him with this crap that Petsmart had recommended. It just made him smell like a floral version of skunk. So you can imagine what rainy dog fur that smelled like floral skunk was like in an enclosed RV with antsy pre-teens. We listened to audiotapes of the Hobbit, played Trivial Pursuit and checkers and listened to the lightning crash and the thunder roll at timberline. The next day, the sun burned off the moisture, they went fishing and I went hiking. Great times, great memories. I guess I just wanted to remember –them in place.
As we started up the Indian Peaks Wilderness Highway the wind came whistling down off the mountain and I realized that we were not prepared for this trip today. As we drove further in, the wind got worse and it started to rain. We decided to do it anyway, even if we just sat in the truck and looked at the skyline. When we got to the lake, we parked and stepped out of the truck. The sun came out of the rapidly swirling clouds, the wind died down a bit and I decided to go for a short hike close in, because of weather worries.
I put on my sweater, followed by a rain coat, slipped a red Tshirt on over my rain coat, pulled up the hood and slipped my pink tartan cap on over that. Chuck loaned me his neon yellow work gloves. There is no way that a hunter could possibly mistake me for a moose, which is the game currently being hunted up there this time of year. We fiddled with the bear mace, I put it in my pocket and away I go.
The sign at the trailhead says Beware of mountain lions, really. Like, as in, we aren’t kidding. As I stood there, I was overwhelmed with the most urgent need to stop and go no further. The sign goes on to say, do not hike alone, bring a dog, carry a walking stick, look big, act big, talk big, and if I have to fight, don’t give up, fight like hell. Really, it said all that, minus “hell”. But, if you were fighting, wouldn’t that be what you’d fight like?
I went back to get Chuck’s cane. Go back to the trail. And once again, it was like the wind was talking to me, no, yelling at me NONONONONO. So, I said, what the hell and went back to the truck. I walked a few feet away to the edge of the lake, easily in sight of the truck, sat on a wet rock and said screw it, I will meditate here.
And so I did. I talked to Charlie about everything I could think of. Basically, I talked to him about how much I love him, I apologized for fighting with him that day, I apologized for all the things that I had done wrong as a parent. I explained that I didn’t mean to do wrong things, that they happened accidentally. Or that I had made a wrong decision or that I had over or under reacted to situations. I reviewed the top 10 things with him. Then, I apologized for the worst one, which was when I left him that day to go with Chuck instead. I should have stayed and taken him to the ER. The whole time crying. The whole time barely able to catch my breath, my grief is so profound and that hurts so much.
And the whole time I am thinking that a mountain lion might be watching me. One time I felt like someone was standing right behind me, touching me on the shoulder. I jumped up, turned around with my bear mace ready. Nothing. So I sat back down, caught my breath, calmed down and continued. As I talked, I watched the wind on the lake water, pushing it in, then whipping it back – like when you vacuum carpet 2 different directions. When the wind whipped it towards the shore, the sun glistened on it and it felt like a sheet of glass was zooming right up next to my feet, whipping back just before it impaled my ankles.
I had a dream a few months ago about how God came to talk to me. He was very exasperated and pleaded with me to talk to Charlie. I said, really, what about? You are God, can’t you do it? He said that Charlie refused to leave hell, even though God had invited him in. I said why? He said that Charlie was ashamed, grossed out and upset with the way he had handled things, with the way he had treated us, with the way he had left things. I said, OMG, that is so Charlie. It is so Charlie to argue with God of all people. God chuckled and said, I agree, but, could you talk to him and tell him you forgive him so he can come to Heaven? In my dream I said yes, but, then I woke up. I have said these things to Charlie many times since then, but, I thought I would sit at the lake and say them again.
So I did. I told him that there was never anything to forgive, ever. That I knew his heart, had always known his heart and that his heart was pure, full of love, full of goodness, full of compassion. I told him that the “bad” things he had done were a result of the drugs and alcohol. That his addiction had warped his heart, had cut his heart and had evenutally killed his physical heart. But, that it was always his heart – pure and full of love.
And I said, “forgive yourself Charlie, let my love for you unlock the doors of your self imposed prison, so you can go safely, peacefully into your next journey”. And I jumped a mile high off that rock, because I swear someone touched me. I wheeled around ready to fight that lion like hell! And there was nothing. Just darkening forest, the truck gleaming in the distance. And the storm clouds were rolling in, little beads of snow ice starting to fall gently.
I sat back down and the sheets of water whipped towards me and I wished that the hawks would come circling in to show me that Charlie, Daddy and Robin were in attendance. I even heard them in the distance, but, no birds showed themselves.
So, I asked Charlie if my grief was holding him back. Were my tears and depression actually causing him to stay behind? Was I being cruel and should I let him go? So, even though I released him in the chapel the night before he died, I released him again. I was hysterically crying now, tears freezing on my cheeks. I said, I release you, please go to that great new adventure. But, if you could, or would, please come back once in awhile, or give me a sign that you are ok, that you are safe, that you are loved, that you are still in existence. And don’t go too far away, so that when I die I can still find you. And don’t change so much that I don’t recognize you when I do find you.
And I thought Chuck must have come down from the truck to get me, because I felt total love, warmth and comfort around me, even in the midst of that freezing snow and ferocious lake breeze. I turned to tell him about my talk with Charlie, and no one was there.
Then, I turned back to the lake one more time, to finish some other unfinished business. I have a friend who told me to go on a hike on Charlie’s birthday and talk to God. I just wanted to try, just because I said I would. So, I sat back down and said hi and kind of explained what I wanted to do. Nothing. My connection speed to God must be broken, or maybe I need a new carrier. Anyway, by now I am freezing through and through.
I said goodbye to Charlie for now, walked back to the truck, got in and we drove home. The first snowstorm of the season on Charlie and Robin’s birthday.
As we were driving away, I was thinking about how jumpy I had been all day, how antsy, anxious and just plain crazy jumpy I was. And then I remember another day that I was just as jumpy and anxious. As I thought it through, I realized something. Those feelings were not from being stalked by a mountain lion, or just random jumpiness. They were from Charlie trying to reach out to me. I had totally, completely missed it. And the hawks didn’t come down today, because at least one of them was already there with me.
My brother was a wonderful man, helpful, generous, loving, full of life and adventure, always wanting to try new things. His will to adventure and try things eventually lead to a downward spiral with his addiction.
Heroin, Charlie struggled with this addiction for a good 2 years. After losing his best friend to something similar, Charlie pulled himself off of heroin cold turkey.
During the detox phase of this he turned to alcohol to curb the cravings. Once he began to drink, he could not find a healthy way to stop on his own. For 2 years I watched my brother struggle to get help to kick his addiction of drugs and alcohol. I watched as he entered hospital after hospital to be pumped full of fluids to become hydrated again, I watched as he became sober after being in those hospitals for up to a week at a time, then being released because there was nothing else they could do for him, not knowing where to go next because the treatment facilities were either full or rejected him because he was no longer drunk, you read that right, he was turned away from facilities because he was no longer drunk. He didn’t have problems detoxing, he had problems staying clean and sober.
I researched in home care, external care facilities, as well as safe places for him to continue his recovery, but none of them would take him because the insurance he had would not cover the costs. He was a self-employed man and worked with my father and could not come up with the money to cover these costs. As the months went on the cycle continued, he would relapse after 3 weeks and drink to almost the point of no return, get clean at the hospital, and then be booted out with no comfort or help on the outside.
Every day he begged for someone to help him get rid of this addiction, every time he voluntarily wanted to be clean and sober and no one had an answer for him because he didn’t have the money to pay for the resources. The addiction took over his mind and body, in order to stay “level” he had to keep a steady flow of alcohol and drugs so he did not go into withdrawal, for fear of having a seizure and fear of having to go back to the hospital to pay money he did not have.
As a sister, as the big sister and the only one he had, I did everything I could to help him get through this. I called every care facility I could to try and work out payment plans, to try and do what I could to get him the help he needed, and every time, I was turned away because I did not have the sufficient funds they needed. I had different insurance than he did, but they refused to take mine as well because he was a legal adult and had to do it on his own.
Money… time… care… and the ability to still go to your job every day to make the money, take the time so you can care for yourself, THIS was all I could to do to help him, and it still was never enough.
On February 12, 2018 my 27 year old brother overdosed on alcohol and Heroin. Every day that passes without him is a constant reminder to me that because of lack of funding, because him, I and my parents combined did not make half as much money as a facility cost to help him be sober, he is no longer with us. We are hardworking, tax paying, law abiding citizens damn it, and still, because of lack of money, my brother was not able to get the treatment that he deserved, wanted, and needed, and will now no longer be able to fight for the help he deserves.
This bill will be able to help people in need like my brother, good people that are reaching out for help, but cannot do it alone. People that deserve to live without the power of addiction, the fear of cost and aggravation, people that want to become sober and healthy but do not have the means to do it on their own. Please, if you take anything from my story, walk away with this in your mind: It is too late for my brother Charlie, but it is not too late to make a difference for the 1,000s of other struggling addicts out there that want to be where he did, sober, happy, alive!!
Anything we can do as a community can help someone, one person cannot change the world alone, but the world can help this one person, and if we go one person at a time, in time we will make waves, we will make a difference, and we will help the people that are really in need, the people that want to be contributing members of our so called society, wouldn’t that be nice? Isn’t that in the end what you want anyway??
So as a woman, a daughter, a friend to many who are struggling with this same issue, and a heart broken sister who wants nothing more than to change these circumstances, I ask you to consider and pass this bill, so we as a community and as a whole unit can help the ones who need it the most.
Thank you for your time in reading this, I appreciate your consideration.
You are all aware of my son Charlie Hughes’ story, because I submitted letters to each of you last week concerning HB 18-1136 and HB 18-1003.
I am in complete support of SB 18-270. I will give you 1 example of how this kind of transition team would have solved future problems immediately and how this might have saved my son’s life.
In 2017, while I was at a work related meeting and my husband was on a sales call, our son Charlie was at home starting to detox from drugs and alcohol combined. He called 911 threatening to commit suicide. He was so frustrated and upset about his addiction problem that he felt that this was his only option. The sheriffs department and I arrived at the same time. They took him in to the nearest ER to us and admitted him under a 72 hr involuntary hold. They also told me to stay away for the day.
Later in early evening, I called the nurse’s desk to see how he was doing. She checked with him, got his approval and then suggested I come in to visit him. I did. He was miserable. He had been secluded from the main hospital and was under surveillance by the guards, but, other than that had had no contact with any humans since they had admitted him. I was concerned, because there had been enough time gone by that he was probably getting ready to go into full on detox and would need IV fluids. I asked a nurse if they had given him IV’s and she snapped at me that he was in suicide watch and didn’t need an IV. I explained to her what my concern was, and she told me it was not my concern and huffed off. Then, I was really concerned because he had seizures when he withdrew, and if he was going to be in there for 72 hrs, he was going to have seizures and would they even take the time to deal with that properly? I asked her about that too. Instead of answering me, she had me escorted from the ER by an armed guard and did not answer my question.
I was very upset, but, decided I would just keep calling Charlie to check in with him and if he started having those symptoms I would go down and raise hell until they treated him, or I would take him out myself.
At 2:30 in the morning, the ER social worker called and said he was ready to be released. He was no longer drunk or high and they needed me to come and get him. I was really confused, because he was admitted by the sheriffs department on a 72 hr hold for suicide. She insisted that she was operating under the right assumptions and that he had passed all of her criteria for release. I asked if she could just wait until morning, or a decent time for me to come and pick him up. She said, well, I was listed as the person to call, and he had said I would be able to pick him up. I said, wait a minute, has this release been instigated by Charlie? Has he demanded to be released? She said, no, he couldn’t make that demand, only her recommendation could do that.
I said, ok, what if I say I can’t, what would you do? She said that she would ask him to leave on his own free will. In other words, she was kicking him to the curb as soon as I hung up, if I wasn’t willing to come and pick him up. A person admitted to her care on suicide watch who was now in full on detox mode.
So, I did, of course. Furious, crying, pissed off at this system that just kept ignoring our cries for help.
I picked him up and took him to another ER where they started him on IV’s and anti-seizure medication and he was there for the full next day. When stabilized they gave me the 6 days of anti-seizure medication and sent us home, where he normally did his detox.
During that detox time, I reported the first ER to the state commission.
From a cost effective point of view, that was 2 ER visits at 2 different hospitals. CHA says that these cost $15,000/day/each.
From a human and health care point of view, I know that a transition team would have been much more effective and would have put his feet on solid ground with professionals that could help him. And today, I would be texting with him about his latest job details, knowing when he got off work he would be practicing a new song on his guitar, and he would be planning his exciting future.
Instead, I am here talking to you, with his ashes sitting on my dresser.
Vote yes, don’t let this keep happening to any more families. Thank you for your time.
I am writing you to express my support of HB18-1136. Charles Everette Hughes III was my nephew and here is the impact his life and death have had on my life and family.
I was there the day Charlie was born and I watched him become a sweet, happy young boy who was eager to learn all that life had to offer. He learned to play guitar, sing and was an amazing self-taught musician. He babysat my son as an infant and was a strong role model in both my son and daughter’s lives. My son, who is now 13, worshipped Charlie. He would work side by side with Charlie when he would do work on our house. He would hang out with him just to get Charlie’s views on life and see what he was doing. My daughter has never known a world with out Charlie until February 12, 2018.
As you have probably heard Charlie overdosed on both alcohol and heroine on February 9th. He was brought to St Anthony’s where the compassionate care he received was truly a gift that allowed my sister, brother in law and other family to say goodbye. I was there the day he died.
I don’t want to see any other families go through what ours has had to endure. With proper medical and rehabilitative care, Charlie would still be here today. He used alcohol to detox from heroine. Then the alcohol would take over and he would have to detox from that. It was a very deadly combination of ways to kick a habit and one that proved fatal to Charlie. His family and friends loved him tremendously and tried in every way to help in any way they could. But the astronomical costs of proper drug and alcohol treatment were prohibitive to his success and closed door after door to him.
I watch my sister go through days when making it through hour by hour is all she can hang on to. I watched her struggle to get through the moments we sat by his side in the hospital just to see him breath. I watched as her world imploded when a doctor told us he was brain dead and never coming back to us. I never want another family to suffer this kind of a loss that could possibly have been prevented.
You have the opportunity today to make a difference with HB18-1136. People deserve to live a life with dignity and respect. Yes, even people who are addicted to heroine and alcohol. When you see a drug addict, I see a person who needs help. When you see a drunk, I see a person giving up on themselves. Don’t be one of the people who gives up on someone in need of help. When you see a grieving family in pain, say to yourself “What can I do to change things and make a better world for everyone, not just those with great insurance.” This bill is the first step in stopping this insane cycle.
“Goodbyes are not forever, are not the end; it simply means I’ll miss you, until we meet again.” . . People keep telling me to share how I’m feeling, that in time it will help me on my journey without you. Tho the pain is ultra real right now, I’m taking the advice to share your story one moment and one day at a time. . . The last time we were at this border was to drop you off 6 years ago so you could go on an epic journey thru the desert. You had a huge backpack with all of your stuff and told me you would be alright, and it was something you had to do. 2 weeks ago, I struck out on my own adventure thru the desert.
Timing is so strange, but you called to me to still go, I guess it is in our adventure bones that we share, so I took you with me on mine. As I spread your ashes along the epic paths I took, I felt you with me more than I ever have. You were proud of me, and told me to keep on.
1st photo – Colorado side for home, Utah side for adventure. 2nd photo- on top of a beautiful mountain top in the middle of the desert around a cluster of trees, 3rd photo – a sunset that called out to me to come closer, to breathe easy, and to remember that even in sorrow, there is always something beautiful to hold onto. You are my inspiration for greatness as you always have been. I love you brother, like I loved you then, and like I love you now. Rest easy.
“The worlds a roller coaster And I am not strapped in Maybe I should hold with care But my hands are busy in the air saying
I wish you were here I wish you were.”
Linda’s notes: Katie asked them for Charlie’s last EKG printout, which I now have in safekeeping. She wanted it so that she could get it tatooed on her wrists. The artist that did it suggested that she overlay it onto a music staff, brilliant. The picture is of his EKG, his love of music on her wrists, the most beaufiful, precious wrists on this planet.
i drink to quench my thirst for meth. i love to shoot up speed. i havent done it since i left rehab. which has been over a year now. but in exchange i have been struggling with drinking for 6 months now.
my wife left me because of my inability to stop drinking. i stopped using just to be with her; this was her ultimatum when we got together about 8 years ago. we have a daughter together. we thought our love should be shared with a child of our own and that responsibility would get us to quit drinking.
towards the end of our relationship she became quite violent. ultimately putting me in the back of an ambulance unconcsious and bleeding from the head. how i miss her now. i miss the fact that even a black eye from her drunkeness represents physical contact and love for me. i know thats messed up but im a messed up person and we had a messed up relationship.
after the seperation i went back to shooting dope. i didnt like to mix dope and liquor. which i thought was a good thing; i was getting off the sauce finally. maybe shed have me back. delusion.
i got way too high way too quick. went to the ER to sleep it off. i woke up and went to harmony rehab in estes park. after that i came home. i went to meetings, and still do, every night. however i didnt work the program and after 7 months went back out. i still went to meetings. sometimes drunk. im only drinking now and would love to be part of the ‘we’ program. i dont know how to be social or how to make friends or how to even start a conversation. but all of that is my problem and i see multiple medical professionals for that.
i met charles hughes at vietality. young looking guy i could tell right off he had something about him. i remember seeing him get 30 days and how different he looked. i saw him the night he showed up at vietality completely drunk and gone. he was rambling about his friend that he had lost some time ago. he must have been in a place that nobody could help him get out of. i miss seeing him there. i feel like i knew him for longer that i did.
id really like to not see other people go down the same road and never travel back. but im only 13months into this program and im sure if i stick around long enough ill see some more….unfortunately. all you can do then is remember and pray.
I had this dream that God wanted to talk to me. His voice just filled my head and I had to listen.
I need you to forgive Charlie so he can move on.
I have forgiven him, really, there was nothing to forgive. I always knew his heart, I could always see beneath the drugs, to see his true heart. I knew he was still in there.
I want you to pray and tell him again.
Why can’t you just tell him for me, afterall you are God, and you can reach him now, whereas I can’t.
He has locked himself into Hell, he is upset about how he left things, he is miserable. I need you to forgive him so he will come home.
I laughed and said, wow, now that sounds like Charlie, arguing even with God!
God chuckled too and say, Yes, it is just like Charlie. But, would you talk to him?
Yes, God, I will. Thanks for letting me know.
So to make it official, and just for the record – I forgive you Charlie. I never had anything to forgive really. You were you, just being you. I was me just being me. Then lots of crazy things happened and you met the one thing that you could not conquer. I saw how heroin and alcohol changed your brain. When we would talk, I could see you and your addiction talking back to me. The addiction was always trying to figure out what I wanted to hear so that it could get the money to keep it alive. It was always trying to manipulate me into doing its bidding. And behind that I could still see you, begging to return to full strength. I could still see the real you, your real true heart. That loving, beautiful person was still there. So, rest easy son, I, your dad, your sister, we never lost you. And if you need to hear it, I will say it. I forgive you. Now, as God has said, please go home. Move on to your next adventure. Remember us, so we will get to see you again, when it is our turn. We love you. I love you.
I am writing to you today regarding HB 18-1136, the Substance Use Disorder Treatment. I urge you to approve this bill and send it to the full house. I believe that my story will explain to you why this bill, if law, would have helped my family.
In October, 2014 my 25 yr old son Charlie Hughes had a hernia operation, paid for by Medicaid. I was not aware of this at the time, but, at release, his doctor gave him a 90 day supply of oxycodone for pain. In January, 2015, he ran out and switched to heroin. This coincided with the death of his best friend and was the worst time he had ever lived through. In February he asked for my help to quit the heroin addiction. Turning to the internet, we realized that we would have to try to tackle this subject on our own, as he only had Medicaid and his father and I could not afford to help him financially.
Because my son, his father and I are self employed, we were able to rearrange work schedules so that either his father or I could be with our son while he went through withdrawal. It was a very hard 1st month, especially when I found out that his dealer was the next door neighbor. But, he made it through to the other side successfully. He was clean for a year. I know this because I randomly drug tested him with kits that I bought online.
During his withdrawal, we noticed that alcohol helped dull the withdrawal pain. So I would give him shots of vodka like a doctor would give out medicine. We weaned him off the alcohol and on the last day of that, he ended up needing a trip to the ER. That is when we learned that there was medication that would have helped him with the withdrawal symptoms of both heroin and alcohol.
At any rate, the rest of 2015 was fairly successful He began to drink more than i thought he should, but, he seemed to be handling it. He went to work, life was good, we thought we had escaped this monster.
On the 1st year anniversary of his friends death, he visited with his friends mom. He came home, went next door and bought heroin and began using again. This time, I took him to the ER for help. They gave him IV fluids, and gave me the medication that would help with withdrawal symptoms. I rearranged my schedule, and if neither my husband or myself could be with him, his sister could . He got clean again, but, his drinking escalated.
He was desparate to quit both and did a lot of research on his own.about this. For the next 2 yrs, we would go through the cycle. He would get clean, stay clean, start drinking, start drugging. He would beg for help, we would go to the ER for help, they would give me the medication, we would go through the withdrawal and life would begin again. Only early on, he started to have seizures whenever he withdrew, which meant more time in the ER. And each time, the withdrawals were harder, lasted longer. He then started to develop other complications, like pancreatitis, gastritis and depression and was actually admitted for up to 5 days. One time, he called the police threatening suicide. They took him in for a 72 hr hold and the hospital released him at 5 am the next morning, less than 24 hrs later.
In December-January, he was clean for 32 days – the longest time for quite some time. His skin color was normal, his eyes were bright. He was happy, he was healthy, he laughed. He felt like he was conquering this evil. And then January 28 came around, the anniversary of his friends death. He was never able to get through this time of year before and didn’t this time either. He started drinking heavily and that led to using heroin again. On Feb. 9. 2018, he overdosed on fentanyl heroin with a 4.5 BAC as well. On Feb. 12, after 3 days of no brain activity, we agreed to have life support disconnected and he died 8 minutes later.
Your job is not to feel my pain. Your job today is to weigh the costs of this bill and determine if there is justiification in passing it through. So, it is my job to tell you that during the last 3 years, I had 10 times to curse the fact that my son could not get treatment because medicaid didn’t cover it. It made no sense to me that although medicaid would cover state of the art ER, they had to kick him to the curb with no treatment afterwards. Although I thank God the ER;s were there, I know we, as a state have been spending money in the WRONG place.
Here is proof. I pulled numbers off the https://cha.com/colorado-hospitals/price-report/
4 trips to St. Anthony North ER: $15.999/ea = $61,996.00
1 trip to North Metro Suburban ER: $10,930.00
1 trip to St. Anthony North, admitted for 4 days = 4 x $21,870.00 = $87,480.00
1 trip to Steamboat Springs ER: $6309.00
1 trip to UC Denver, admitted for 4 days = 4 x $22,085.00 = $88,340.00
1 trip to Lutheran, admitted for 3 days = 3 x $16,852.00 = $50,556.00
1 trip to St. Anthony Lakewood ICU 4 days = 4 x 21,870.00 = $87,480.00
Total – $393,091.00
(I sent these figures for review to Dr. Valuck of the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention. He assured me that they were accurate.)
This is not counting the lost revenue from work days spent helping him through withdrawal, or the fact that my husband will now have to close the company that he and my son co-owned and worked within.
Then I googled for the average cost of an in-patient residential treatment center stay and found info on this website:
And see that they list:
Residential rehab –$8000-$32,000 per month – my son would have required in patient residential rehab because up to about 5 months ago, his dealer lived next door and are also on every street corner in our neighborhood.
So, for my calculations, I used $16,000/mos for a year of treatment.
12 x $16,000 = $192,000
Which would have been a savings to the state of $201,091.00.
And they would have had a taxpaying citizen adding to the coffers for years to come. But, because this same state is spending money in all the wrong places, all we have now is a box of ashes on my dresser instead.
Please pass this bill from the appropriations committee to the full house so that we can get treatment to those who haven’t died yet.
If you need, I am available for email or phone questions, PS: Attached are pictures of my son.