Jake came to live with me when he was in 2nd grade.
My son Gage had asked me if his friend could come home with him from school and spend the night. I had never met Jake but Gage spoke of him often so I agreed.
3 days later Jake was still at my house and I hadn’t heard a word from his parents. Jake had been calling his dad whom apparently was a single father and his father was not answering.
What do you do in that situation? Well I figured I would just keep him until someone came to pick him up.
3 days later his dad showed up at my house. I could tell that he loved Jake so much however he wasn’t fit to be a parent at that time. I did my best that day just to let his father know that I was always home and had no problems keeping Jake anytime he needed.
That day was the start of Jake becoming my son. Over the next couple of weeks I learned a lot about Jakes life and what it had looked like up to that point. I became his dads go to for leaving Jake while he tended to whatever he needed to.
I slowly built trust with Jake and his father.
When Jake came to my house the first couple of days I couldn’t get him to take off his socks and let me wash them. They were literally smelling up the entire bedroom. I had to negotiate with him to let me wash them. You see something as simple as socks was a huge deal to him. He wasn’t sure he would have another pair.
Over the next few weeks while the boys were at school I would often go in their rooms to make piles of crap they needed to put away. While doing that I started to find food stashed all over Jakes area. Where he slept and in his clothes. Honestly this broke my heart. I never said anything to him about it, I just always made sure that he knew we would always have plenty of food to eat.
Any time Jake would go home to his dads for a few days he would miss school and Gage would call me and ask me to please go pick him up and bring him to the house so he could go to school. After about a month I spoke to Jakes dad and asked him to please let me keep him at the house during school nights so I could make sure he got to school. He reluctantly allowed it. When I was signed on as emergency contact I found out he had missed 63 days of school already that year.
Slowly over the course of 6 years. Jake began to flourish. He was getting straight A’s in school, he had joined choir and was doing a little business from home. He was no longer hoarding food or keeping his socks. He was comfortably at home with visits to his dads and his dad becoming part of our family. He was every bit of my son.
Unfortunately things changed in 8th grade. I was beginning a very long and drawn out divorce that had gotten very abusive and unsafe. I had to make the decision to move away from our home to a town that was an hour and a half away.
When I made that move Jakes dad wouldn’t let me take Jake with me. He didn’t want him that far from him and so I was only able to get him on the weekends. Every weekend for a year I picked him up on Friday and back home on Sunday. I did my best to stay as involved as possible however Jake was getting further into teenage years and was starting to not like having rules to follow.
Jake stopped coming to the house his first year of high school and no matter how often I called and texted he would make excuses. I started to hear that he was getting into trouble. Growing and selling weed and making dabs.
I was in contact with his dad who was constantly telling me Jake was doing well and that everything was good. I felt helpless to do anything for him as I wasn’t his parent and his dad was telling me there was no issues.
Sophmore year of high we moved back to our old town. We moved there the beginning of December. My son and I immediately started trying to see Jake. Everything we could to spend time with him but Jake kept telling us he was busy and promised to see us soon.
January 24, 2014 at 2:30 in the afternoon my then 15 year old son called me to tell me Jake had shot himself in the head. I can remember every word every feeling the screaming the falling to my knees the disbelief. All of it as if it just happened yesterday.
I drove to his house and was there as they rolled my son out of the house in a body bag. That is something you never recover from.
The days that followed were a blur but I became obsessed with finding out the why. He left a note that basically told his dad he had saved a bullet for him and that he should kill himself too.
Because of the relationship that I had built with his dad and the fact that I was looked at as his mother I was the only one able to go into his bedroom and go through his things. Sitting in his bedroom smelling his clothes, looking at his school work and seeing the mass amounts of broken glass from all of the bongs he had likely broken that morning is a picture I will never forget.
The weeks following I got into both of his phones, all of his social media and spoke to every teenager he had contact with during those times.
I found out that Jake had himself in a world of trouble and didn’t know how to get out of it. He was basically the biggest dealer and grower of pot and every other drug under the moon in that area. He was overwhelmed and scared and felt completely alone.
The night before he died he had posted on Facebook that he was going to kill himself. There was one response. One girl that stayed up all night talking to him and trying to give him hope but she never told anyone.
There was so much that I found out through all of the extensive searches. Grown men coming to him for drugs and threatening him if he didn’t provide. And yes I went after EVERY single one of them when I found out. Mama bear came for blood. Although at that point it was only to save another kid from what had happened to mine.
It all started with him simply smoking weed. So I guess I post this here to give some parents some insight into what could happen from smoking pot. No big deal. We all did it when we were their age. That’s where it started. But it led to so much more.
Kids that are looking for an escape and for sure my Jake was and kids that have had trauma and don’t know how to deal or cope with it will look for ways to manage those emotions. It may start as some no big deal pot and alcohol at parties.
However once that door is open for them it becomes so easy to open others.
Jake had a long line of trauma in his life. He had safety and stability for the years he was with me but when he stopped coming he went down some very dark paths. I hold a lot of guilt about that. I will forever feel like I should have fought harder to take him with me. Fought his dad on abandonment for all the years I had Jake. But I didn’t and that I will live with forever.
I will never be able change what happened with Jake. His life taught my family so many things. His life changed the lives of every single person in my family. We love and miss him every single day. We speak of him, drugs and suicide often and the affects of those choices.
My hope is hearing his story might help someone else.