Sunday, July 9, 2017

He's Here!

Landon Grant made his amazing entrance into our world on July 6th, at 1:56pm, weighing in at 8lbs 9 oz. and 21 inches long. Molly was so amazing facing the challenges of labor and a rough delivery with so much grace and dignity. I have never been more proud of her. Ryan was engaged and present and focused on Molly and whatever he could do to encourage and help her....watching them work together to bring their baby into the world touched this momma's heart deeply. They are so good together and already are such wonderful parents to their baby boy. Landon is absolutely delicious. We all just want to soak him in and savor every second of his sweet self.

I have obnoxiously flooded Facebook with all of this already....but for my readers who aren't on FB, I wanted so much to share my joy here with you too. I think anyone who is reading here understands how huge the good parts of life are, how much we appreciate them even more so since we have faced some of our most unfathomable fears...I am drinking in this time, every minute, this precious little fresh boy is so beautiful and will bring with him all of the lessons he has been sent with for his parents....because I do believe that those who hold our hearts are our greatest teachers.
Bless us all.... and bless this new little family.
Annette













Thursday, June 22, 2017

To Have Our Hearts Be Heard.

Today a momma told me the story of her son’s passing from an accidental overdose. It was such a sacred telling and my heart was so very touched. I listened while she recounted all of the details that she wanted to share with me, things that I won’t repeat here, but my heart, just hearing, was so broken for her. She bravely didn’t cry, time has softened the loss, that she can talk without crying now, she can be happy that her beautiful boy is “free,” but my eyes overflowed.

When we went to leave each other’s company, we hugged and I thanked her for sharing her story with me. I told her it was not something that I heard and took in lightly. It was sacred, something so precious, and I wanted her to know that I cherished the telling of it, I cherished her broken mom’s heart and I was holding it gently in mine.

She thanked me for “letting” her talk about it. She said, “Sometimes I just need to re-tell that story and have it be heard again.”

After we were apart, I thought about that. We all want to be heard. Something so simple, but so universal. We want our hurts, our struggles, our fears, our experiences, to be heard and to be seen. We want to share our burdens, our brokenness, to let someone help us to carry the pain and the weight of our burdens. We want to help other’s to carry theirs. There is something said in my program about this….”Talk to each other, reason things out together.”

I am sure that is why I started blogging. I had to get all of this OUT and I had to share it and to have my vast well of feelings be seen and heard and acknowledged. Its why we hire therapists… we need to be heard. In the telling sometimes we can put the pieces together. We can begin to make sense of what has stricken our spirits in the most unexpected of ways.

The most beautiful thing is that to listen is so simple. We don’t have to have any answers. We can just listen and hear and hold space with one another….and that is enough. Human beings aren’t meant to go through life alone, carrying their sorrow and concerns by themselves. We are meant to live in communion with each other. Is it scary to let people in? To share your most broken and fragile parts with another and risk being judged, being seen as less than all that you wanted to be, to have those we love the most be seen as less than we had planned and dreamed of? Sometimes, yes it is.

In my experience, there is something about being vulnerable that disarms people. More times than not, it creates a space where they too can be vulnerable and honest. Someone has to take that initial big leap into the deep water and be the one to lay their story out there. To let other’s know its safe here and they aren’t alone. And neither are we. Each of us are not alone in our journey’s.

Bless us all, these mother’s and father’s hearts who yearn for their children’s healing and wholeness.
Annette


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Abundant Time

My long time readers know that I have lived for years by jamming my schedule full to overflowing. I think it met some crazy need in me, fed my waning self worth to be "in demand" and needed here and there.  "I am very busy." It also meant I didn't have to look at my own issues....I was so busy helping everyone with theirs! Lol In my defense, a lot of it was work related so people were actually paying me to get into their business and help them and give advice and take care of them. I always have said, "caregiving" is a co-dependents dream job! LOL

Things have changed though. I gave up a client who was very physically and emotionally demanding. It was so hard to do, I never "quit" jobs, but this time, I knew I needed the time more than I needed to help someone else. I gave my notice, I found a replacement (which wasnt easy) but I left them in good hands. Then right after I gave him up, another client entered the hospital and has been there for a month with more weeks lying ahead. School has ended. Im still working a little....but a grand total of 20 hours vs. 60. I however, am not taking any new clients right now. I am protecting this time.

 We bought our girl an inexpensive Prius with a million miles on it so that she can drive herself to and from the clinic each day. We did it so that I can have my life back. I drove her the 120 mile round trip every day, for 11 months. It was hard, on both of us. Demoralizing for her, time consuming for me. We all, the dad, the therapist, and me, felt like it was time. It will go the way it will go.

So with that obligation off of my schedule and my current lighter work load, I have all of this time...and I will say that I am a little lost. I have so many things to do, things that I have waited to have the time for,  but I wander around looking at all of them and then go check Facebook. Lol I think for me there is something to be said for a routine....so I need to create a new routine. I find myself staying up too late, and then not able to get up early like I would like to. Sleeping in is 7:30, but still. I would like to be on a 6am schedule, pray/meditate/read, go for a walk, then get on with my day. 5am is just too ungodly of an hour for me. I want to go back to Adoration regularly, I want to work on my physical health, exercise, I want to paint my bedroom, I bought a whole bolt of fabric to make lined curtains for my bedroom that will "hopefully" block some of the sunny heat from our big sliding door, I am working on a hamper for baby Landon, I need to clear off our pool table, go through books and donate, yard work is endless....

I feel like this time is important. For the first time, though floundering a bit wondering how to get myself on task, I am thankful for the time. That is new for me. I am not afraid to face myself or what my life contains right now. The dad and I are good....we have lived for many years together with many ups and downs.....but we have come into a place of love and acceptance with each other. We admire each other in a lot of ways. He has gifts that I don't have....and I certainly have gifts that he doesn't have! LOL Bless his heart... that man gives me freedom to do life my own way. Right now, I have the gift of time to be present in my world, with my family.

Our first grandchild will be here soon. I want to be available to support Molly as she ventures into this new time in her life. And "little one," my homebody... we bought a used Canon digital camera for her, awhile back. A grown up kind, with lenses and a case and its all very important and impressive. Lol We have been talking about the places we can go to take pictures. And my girl... getting herself from one place to the next is just the beginning. But it is a beginning.

Feeling very grateful today.....
Annette

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Oh the Quandaries we Weave

Tough love, unconditional love, staying connected, detaching, disease, choice, enabling, codependency, black, white, right, wrong. If the lines were only more clear. The choices more delineated. The outcomes more sure.

An old blogger friend was getting ready to speak to a group of parents and asked me what I wished I had known in the beginning of this journey. Then this past week I was involved in an online conversation exploring the "disease" or "choice" dilemma. These are such complicated issues with so many extenuating circumstances and there are so many passionate and emotional responses and people feel certain that they are right...me included.

For me, I wish I had learned early on more about maintaining healthy connections and less, much much less, about detaching and letting go. I wish I had heard about ways to set healthy boundaries in love and with patience. I wish I had been able to recognize my own part more. My fear, my anger, my compulsion to control and that it was directly tied to my sheer terror. I wish I had known that there are other ideas out there beside tough love. That every act of kindness wasn't enabling. I wish someone had explained that recovery is NOT a one time decision but rather a very very long process that consists of hundreds of little and apparently unimportant decisions made every single day, that hold the potential to profoundly impact your life. I wish I had been taught that trips and falls happen, and no, you do not need to go back to the beginning to start fresh. You can get up, brush yourself off, and start again, right where you fell. I wish I had known that progress counts. I wish I had not bought into the shame that because I loved my daughter so fiercely that that meant I was sick too in some way, that I had some warped connection, was addicted to her addiction. I was a parent and like most of us, I didn't see this coming and like a parent I jumped into action to save her child. I needed to be directed and taught how to do that in the most effective and healthy ways, but there is no shame in a parent grabbing their kids ankles as they see them falling over a cliff. I wish that I had understood the disease concept more, the actual physical changes that were happening in my girl's brain and body. I wish I had understood dual diagnosis more....or that there even was such a thing. I wish I had understood that I couldn't change her trajectory, but there were ways to protect my own heart while still staying connected with her. Boundaries are not high, thick, impenetrable brick walls to keep people out...they are just a resource to help me to keep my side of the street clean and to allow other's the dignity of at the very least having a say in what their side of the street will look like.

I do carry some regret, but I don't carry lots of guilt. I was doing the best I knew and I was doing what I was taught. I think it is so important that we are careful about what we tell parents who are early on in this journey. I never in my wildest dreams thought we would still be navigating all of this 15 years later, but here we are, and we have learned through many avenues including Alanon, the tools of CRAFT, my many friends who are also traveling their own journey's in their various forms of recovery, and my faith, how to live more gently with one another.

This journey has been one of the most painful, soul searing, deep unearthing of my spirit, purifying, experiences of my entire life.....and I am so deeply grateful for what we have gone through and who we have become through these experiences.

I can only share my experience. My experience has been with a daughter. A beautiful girl with all of her own inner battles to wage war against. She has never stolen from us. She has never been physically abusive toward us. She could be full of sass though, but never was I afraid of her. I have been afraid *for* her, many many times for a very long time, but never did I feel that my safety was in jeapordy. Some parents can't say these things and for them, of course, they have to make different decisions, very difficult and painful decisions. In no way do I want to present that anyone who has to take a firm stand to preserve the safety of their home or their younger children, is wrong to do so. There are no easy answers in this world of addiction.

God bless us all, deeply, fill our hearts with peace beyond understanding.
Annette

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Stream of thoughts....

A few things…..
Watching my third born child navigate her way through her first pregnancy is one of my life’s all time wonders. I can’t put into words how happy it makes me to see her love this experience and honor the changes her body is going through rather than worry about stretch marks and skin elasticity. I love that she is savoring every minute of an experience that was so monumental in my own life at one time. Her fiancee’s family is wonderful and has welcomed her in and surrounded her with love and acceptance. I am so happy to be co-grandparents with these particular people. We all can’t wait to meet this baby boy!

Our world seems to be in so much upheaval politically. It is worrisome and overwhelming all at the same time. This administration is proposing a 95% cut in funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Our biggest political advocates, Michael Botticelli who *was* the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy are gone and we are left with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price who believes that medication assisted treatment is merely substituting one drug for another. Of course there is also Russia, health care, and ISIS, among other things to be concerned about under this new  administration. Im embarrassed as an American right now. We are a nation that feels scattered and doesn’t know what the plan is or what will happen next.

Im barely working right now. Im at a grand total of 8 daytime hours and one overnight. I have to say that I love it and it has changed my whole perspective on my life. To have enough time to do what is before me, is a gift. To just *be* with Little One without it being a rush, to be able to listen, to be able to say, “Sure” when she invites me to watch a movie….what 16 year old WANTS to watch movies with her mom?! My dear sweet husband supports me in whatever I want to do. If I want to work like a crazy woman he picks up the slack at home. If I wanted to quit all of it today, he would be ok with that. “We will figure it out.”

I have a client who is so very ill in the hospital. I obviously can’t say too much…..but I miss her. I love the free time, but I want her to be ok, whole, in mind, body, and spirit. She is youngish... her situation hits close to home for me. In so many ways.

Tomorrow is our last day at our homeschool co-op. I am so relieved I can’t describe it. It ended up just not being a good fit for us at all. Recently someone in a position of authority within the co-op, called the homeless people lined up to accept food from the food closet at the back door of the church that the co-op meets in, “Weirdos.” It *hurt* my heart to hear that. The homeless, the mentally ill, the addicted….there but for the grace of God go I. I never want to forget that. Little One said, “I think if you have ever struggled, or had a dark time, it makes you want to be nice to others who are there.” Amen baby girl!

I go to 2 Alanon meetings a week. Sometimes more. Alanon saved me when I felt like I might die from this pain. Back in my early days of all of this, when I was beside myself with shock and grief,  Alanon taught me to be still and let things unfold as they may. To not jump into the future. Live in today. Now, 12 years later, I still apply those principals on a daily basis and “in all of my affairs.” Tonight I went to a meeting and there was a broken hearted mom there for her first time, talking about co-dependency, and not enabling, and trying to figure out when to be firm and when to be loving. Such complicated issues when your child is so seemingly bent on self destruction and your heart feels like its slowly being squeezed until its ready to pop.  I feel so incredibly grateful that I have been able to hang in there for 12 years in this program. That people lovingly came along side me and supported me while I figured out my journey and now I am honored to be able to do it for others. I hugged her, gave her my number, and told her she’s not alone, she can call anytime. I referred her to drugfree.org where I volunteer as a parent coach. How blessed am I that I have healed enough that I can extend a hand. I never thought I would see the day….but we do heal, even when our children’s journey’s continue on.

I have no answers….as usual. LOL I rely on kindness always being the right choice, and God having a plan. Its all I’ve got.

Love to all,
Annette

PS: Im not eating sugar. My son sent me a box of chocolate covered strawberries for Mother's Day. I ate every last one! Im so easily swayed from my goals. Tomorrow is a new day. Lol

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

What does it mean....

to really, truly, and honestly love unconditionally?

I was listening to a podcast with "my girl" by one of her favorite authors, Ted Dekker. The main topic was God's love and acceptance. He spoke of the prodigal son who took his inheritance early from his father, who went out and spent it all on drink and women and partying and doing whatever he wanted to do....but no matter how lost he became, he never stopped being the father's son. The father never stopped being his father. You can read the story here: Luke 15: 11-24...and if you keep reading through to verse 32 it goes on to describe what many of us have experienced with the siblings of "our kids."

The relationship between the father and the prodigal son, while strained and maybe even broken in some ways, could not be severed. (Depending on what is going on in your life, I FULLY understand that this can be viewed as good news or not so good news lol) Of course it made me think of our relationships with our kids. No matter what, no matter how far they drift and take themselves out from under the covering of our family, they are never not a part of us. Most importantly, nothing can change them from being God's child.

He went on to talk about the "love chapter" in the Bible....1 Corinthians 13. The verse he focused on was verse 5. "Love does not take into account a wrong suffered."

I will be honest, that hit me. In our early years I used to list off everything good we had done, and everything bad she had done. I wanted to build my case for why she should change, needed to change, it was desperation in all of its damaging ugliness, beating my struggling girl over the head with guilt and shame. Yes, I did that. I have made amends many times for what has come out of my mouth through the years...but on that car ride the other day, I realized, while I have learned to be quiet, I still have every wrong done, every dollar spent, every lie told to us, every drama, tied up neatly in a ball, all held together with a web of twine, right in the center off my heart. I burst into tears, which laughably, she is used to. LOL I couldn't even talk about it with her. I just had to process this realization and feel it and think it all through. I knew that it was another layer of my onion being peeled back. I know that when things are revealed its time to deal with them, to let them go, to make things right if necessary, so that I can free of those ties. So that SHE can be free of the past.

At the same time the dad was going to a class on conflict resolution in the workplace where he was hearing about how we come "at" people with a story in mind. If someone is morbidly obese, we see them a certain way. If someone is really quiet and introverted we assume certain things about them. If we have a history with someone, that colors our present with them. The teacher spoke of laying those stories down and seeing what today would bring. Being open to things being different than what we see in the immediate moment.

The struggle of course is when there is SO MUCH history, how do you let that go? I had to look at the purpose my ball of twine and resentments was serving. They were giving me the false sense of protection. If I held onto those memories, then I wouldn't be taken by surprise, anything could happen and I would be ready. Or so I thought. If I laid my ball down I would have a big vulnerable opening right there in the middle of my spirit, just waiting to be pierced at the next upset. Can I risk laying it down? Can I risk being hurt and afraid... again? Im figuring that part out. More than anything else though, I don't want to be the one who ties my girl to her past and wont let her free.

Im being asked to step out in faith and trust that God see's it all, that He has a plan, and to let go. Again. I think I live a pretty surrendered life most of the time. There are so many daily choices that we make to surrender our will.....but then when I least expect it, I hear something that peels back my layers and takes me to an even deeper level, a level I didn't even know existed.

Onward, in love and prayer and by the grace of God.
Annette

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Something Beautiful

Elliot was my homeless friend in town. He passed away on April 6 due to natural causes and the affects of his passing on my little town have been profound.

He landed in our town around 2008, appearing one day out of no where. We called him the "man of mystery" because no one knew his story and he was incapable of really putting all of the pieces together to convey who he was or what his past had entailed.

Through the years, rain or shine, heat or snow, he stood as a sentry outside of our McDonalds. Sometimes bundled in a coat, sometimes shirtless, but always there, listening to his music which undoubtedly quieted the voices that ran through his head.  He was a constant, always grateful in his quiet way, for whatever was offered him. If we didn't see him outside McDonalds, we knew he would probably be inside the Starbucks next door, at "his" table. If we didn't see him around his usual spots, posts on our community page would start popping up...."Has anyone seen Elliot? Im hoping he's ok." For the week after he died, the Starbucks employees kept a vase of flowers on "Elliot's table."

As a town, our citizens came to love this man. We wondered who he was, where he had come from, what his story was, but regardless of how much or how little we actually knew, he was accepted as one of ours.

On April 22 our little community put together a memorial service for Elliot. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed. Standing room only, spilling out into the church foyer and yard, a community of all different types of people, medical personnel, clergy, the addicted, the mentally ill, the homeless, housewives with babies, business owners, all standing shoulder to shoulder to say goodbye and pay their respects to this kind soul who found a safe haven and lived among us for the past 8 years.

The lessons that man gave to us just by being himself were priceless. Elliot had carried his brother's phone number with him all of these years and when he died, the medical examiner called him. He was completely shocked to hear what his brother's life had entailed and the impact he had had on all of us. He and his wife flew into town to be at the memorial and he shared his story. I am going to share it with you below, because it shows that EVERYONE has a story.

Elliot's story makes me think of my list of all of our children, that I pray for each day. I pray that they will not be alone, that they will be "found," and met where they are at, that safety will surround them, and that they will be seen and cared for. Elliot's life in my town is a picture of exactly that prayer being answered. I am sure Elliot's momma prayed for her precious lost boy too. Elliot was found, he was loved, and accepted, and cared for and I am so grateful that I got to share in some minuscule way in that process. I feel like God gave Elliot to us to allow us to experience giving with no expectation of return, accepting the least of these among us just as they are, laying down our judgements and just serving. What beautiful lessons he gave to us.

                                                                  "Elliot's War"  

Elliot was born in the Bronx October 29th, 1959… …….. For a time he lived across the street from Yankee Stadium and that may be why he always loved the NY Yankees. He had every baseball card of every player on the team… He even had Mickey Mantle, Bobby Mercer, and Ron Bloomberg, they were his favorites.
At a very early age, his family moved out of the Bronx to a small sleepy little town in Suffolk County Long Island, called Brentwood NY. In the 1960’s, it was a beautiful little town, just beginning to develop. Brentwood even still had some unpaved roads, farms, and wooded areas where raspberries and blueberries grew wild.
We played together as children, just as brothers do when they are young. Our favorite sport was baseball. He pretended to be his favorite Yankee and I pretended to be my favorite player on the Mets. We played baseball in our front and backyard, we even played in the street. Then, with other kids on the block, we made a makeshift ballfield in a little clearing located across the street from our house in the woods. We gathered together other boys on our “block” (Nolan Street”), made a team and played against other “block” teams that were in the neighborhood.
In the fall, after it became too cold to play baseball, we played football. The heavy coats we wore protected us from knocking each other down, fighting for the ball. We put together football teams and somewhere in-between baseball and football, we played basketball. However, our hearts were always in baseball.
Together, we built a go-cart that we used to race. Actually, we built two. The first was a prototype and neither was motorized. We would take it to the hill by Mr. Timpte’s house on Hilltop Street. We ran as fast as we could, pushed from behind and then jumped on and rode all the way down the hill. How we didn’t get run over by a car was a miracle. The first one was a prototype and we lost every race to a kid down the block that had one purchased from a toy store. We went home, took all our peddle cars and the little red wagon apart. Specifically, we took the wheels and axles off and incorporated them into our little racer. When we were finished, it looked like something right out of the TV show, “The Little Rascals”. It looked like hell. But, we won every race from then on.
In the winter when it snowed, we use to drag our sleds to Hilltop and shed ride down the hill. It was very tiring since we had to drag the sleds up the hill as well. Daddy would come home from work and tell us about the sled motor hidden in the attic. He said when we were old enough, he would let us have it to get back up the hill after each run. Imagine that, we really believed that there was such a thing. Good one Dad, you had us fooled for years.
We rode our bicycles all over the neighborhood. We especially liked tearing it up on the minibike trail that was carved into the woods across the street. Sometimes we would venture far away into unknown territories.  In the summer, we would ride all the way down Islip Avenue to Islip Speedway where we found a little hole in the perimeter fence, sneak in, and watch the cars drag race. That was so much fun!
Our parents bought us a little tent that slept four comfortably. We used to set it up and camp out next to the pool in our backyard or even in the woods across the street. (I heard you were still practicing this same concept, kudos to you for that). Sometimes we invited two of our friends and sometimes it was just you and me.
Some days in the summertime, we would walk down to Hills Supermarket and carried packages for old ladies (they were probably 30 years old) and put them in the trunks of their cars. We were compensated very well, nickels, dimes, and sometimes even quarters, which was very good money for the 1960’s. By night, we would sneak out of our tent and ride our bicycles to Grant’s shopping center. We went to the movies and sometimes played pinball with the change that we had earned that day. We also spent some of the money on “chocolate ice cream”, which always was, both of our favorites…… I remember, one time we snuck out of the tent at night, rode our bicycles all the way to Carvel and Daddy walked in the front door, we ran out the back….! We hoped on our bicycles and rode as fast as we could home, in order to get there before him. We made it back in the nick of time, even though Daddy drove a 1966 Mustang. Of course, he brought us our “chocolate ice cream” so we didn’t miss out anyway. Actually, from Carvel, your favorite was “chocolate ice cream sodas” and mine was “chocolate ice cream thick shakes”. We also loved McDonald’s and I heard you still do, just like myself.
On holidays, we went to our grandparent’s apartment in the Bronx, since much of our family still lived there. We played stickball in the street and learned how to play handball with the kids from the neighborhood. That was a lot of fun too.
The 1960’s were over, the Mets had just won the World Series and our family moved to another suburban town on Long Island called Massapequa. Yes, this is the same town where Jerry Seinfeld and the Baldwin brothers are from. I’m not sure if he knew Seinfeld, but he definitely knew the Baldwins, since we all went to Massapequa High school together.
Now, where we lived in Massapequa, it was close to Jones Beach and even closer to the Great South Bay of Long island. Elliot and I always loved going to the beach. Sometimes we took the bus, sometimes we hitchhiked, and sometimes we even rode our bicycles there. When we became teenagers, our Uncle Gary bought us a little yellow speed boat…. The launching ramp was about a half mile away and since we were too young to drive, we would push the boat down Merrick Rd (you can equate Merrick Road with your Broadway, just to give a visual). Some drivers passing by would either be annoyed that we were creating a traffic jam or generally felt for us, would pull over and pull the boat the rest of the way to John J. burns Park where we would launch it. I must say, this worked out very well. Sometimes we went flounder fishing. Sometimes we used our feet to collect clams buried in the sand during low tide (It’s a Long Island thing), and sometimes we just went for a ride.
While in high school, Elliot continued his love for baseball and played on the Massapequa baseball league teams. Did I tell you already that he played shortstop and was very good at it? He was also a power hitter and led the league two years in the row for batting average and home runs. I used to love to watch him play. He also took Karate lessons as did I and we used to practice in the backyard. My father called it, “Playing Karate”. Eventually he earned his black belt.
When Elliot got his license, the same uncle that gave us the little yellow speed boat, bought him his first car. It was a 1968 Chevy Impala super sport convertible. It was dark blue, with a white convertible top and a white bucket seat center console interior…. It had low mileage, but needed extensive body work which we worked many days and nights on. Eventually, he was able to get it repainted and had a really nice stereo installed. Elliot always loved music and back then in the 1970’s his favorite bands were the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and The Who.
Elliot was very good in high school, an A student. He was very popular and had many girlfriends. In his senior year, my parents took him to see many colleges that were located upstate New York. Since he was so good in school, he could have gone to just about any school that they could afford. In the end, I guess he just wasn’t interested. I don’t really remember the exact reason why he told me that he didn’t want to go.
These next couple of segments should answer a few questions. It was during the height of the cold war, Elliot’s sister Debbie, who is also very smart, went to college for computer engineering. Elliot’s father (Victor Cohen) started out as an airplane mechanic who worked for United Airlines and somewhere along the line, he went to night school and earned a degree in mechanical engineering. Subsequently, his father quit the airlines and got a job with Grumman Aerospace. Elliot came from a family that was professional and very well educated.
Elliot had two uncles that served in WWII. One uncle, we called (Uncle Louie). He was a highly decorated pilot. He flew 25 bombing missions over Germany, was shot down 3 times, wounded, captured by the enemy twice and escaped both times. Another uncle, we called (Uncle Christie), served heroically in the pacific theatre and returned home minus one of his legs.
It was 1977 and Elliot had two favorite uncles. Elliot’s Uncle Gary was a decorated cop in NYC and his Uncle Tony had recently returned from Vietnam, just five years earlier as a decorated United States Marine. Perhaps this is why Elliot enlisted in the Navy and signed up for nuclear submarines. Like I said, I don’t remember why he chose not to attend college but I do remember him telling me that he chose the Navy over the other armed services because of the uniform. He said the girls just love guys in uniforms and he liked the Navy dress blues best. He went through boot camp without a hitch and they accepted him into the nuclear submarine program. If I remember correctly, specifically, “electronic engineering”. After a few years, he had made it all the way through the program, including all of the academics and training required in order to be deployed on a nuclear submarine, within the field that he had chosen. Unfortunately, I do not remember what rank he eventually earned, but he had 3 stripes on his uniform. The timeframe is a little unsure for me, but this is when and where his life changed………..
We do not know how or what or where…. But something happened to him… Was he on leave and someone passed him a bad marijuana cigarette? By the way, he was not a pot head, alcoholic, or a drug addict ever. Sure, like everybody else, but very rarely, he would take a hit of a joint. I was his best friend who knew him the very best and pot wasn’t a vice that he was interested in. Nonetheless, if a good looking girl passed him a joint on the beach, he would take a drag, just to be social. With that said, was he on leave and someone slipped him some kind of bad hallucinogenic drug without him knowing? My Uncle Tony told us a story where that happened to him when he was in the marines. Elliot was also about to be deployed on a nuclear submarine where he would be subject to many existing environments present in other countries. Therefore, was he subjected to many inoculations that may have had detrimental side effects? We just don’t know…and neither did any of the doctors that we took him to.  All we know is that he developed a mental illness that changed his life forever and took him away from us. I’m just not going to talk about all of the so called experts that we took him to. They just put him on medicine that only made him sick and num. I’m also not going to talk about the pain and anguish that his family has gone through over the years. However, I want you to know that we tried to help him fight his demons as hard as we could and never stopped loving him. He ran away four different times, Twice to Las Vegas and twice to California.
Soon after he was honorably discharged from the Navy, he went to Israel in pursuit of his roots and perhaps, to get closer to God in order to give him enough strength to fight off the demons that were inside his head. There, in Israel he learned how to speak Hebrew.
The last time I talked to him, was on the telephone, he had called collect from Las Vegas and I would say it had to have been 2003 or 2004. The last time my mother heard from him was 2008. He was in Las Vegas and asked for a couple of hundred dollars because he said he wanted to go on vacation with a friend to California. My mother did (as she always has when he would call) send him some money and that is the last we heard of him, until I received a call from the detective that told me my brother was dead.
As a trained investigator myself, I have been trying to put together what he has been doing and where he has been the last nine years…. What I have found out so far, is that he showed up on the door step of the city called Placerville. What I have also learned so far is that many people here loved and cared for him. It was the “many” here that has been the most successful in helping him fight those demons that I mentioned. Not all the medicine in the world or his very own blood relatives have been able to help him in this fight. However, the many here have given him some kind of semblance of a life. I can only believe that he was happy here and he was accepted for who he was. Know this………Elliot fought an unbelievable exhausting uphill battle for the last 35 years. I will call it, “Elliot’s War” I believe that he never wavered one little bit. He fought to his last breath and in the end it wasn’t the demons that put his fire out. Instead, it was high cholesterol……and the predisposition for heart disease, specifically clogged arties. His father died of the same thing at 60 years of age, Elliot died six months short of his 58th birthday….
How can I ever thank the “many” that have given my brother so much love and respect? Well…. I am Elliot’s little brother Neil Cohen, born one year and ten months after him. Like many in my family, including Elliot, I too have taken the oath of office. I work for a very special department in a very special agency, in a very unique division. This department was formed after the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. My duties are very complicated and difficult to explain, some of which, I am not allowed to explain. However, I can say this; my work environment includes keeping the people of our beloved country safe from harm, from both foreign and domestic and since my job is not very transparent, I have sometimes thought it to be thankless. However, after hearing what you all have done for my brother, I will never think that way anymore.