Dedication to Phil

Philip Thomas Riley
07/21/88 ~ 09/25/09

There is no perfect. We all have struggles. They may not be as misunderstood or judged as mental health or addiction. They may remain quietly tucked away deep in the shadows. But they are there and it's difficult. There is no shame in heartache, mental illness and disease. There is only misunderstanding. We can only share our truth and possibly help others who are hurting. But, no matter the darkness, we can choose to find and shine our light. This maybe the one thing that saves us. (Kim Klassen)

Phil and Tim (1991)

Phil, Brian & Tim (approx 2002)

Phil on his 15th birthday (2003)

Tim, my mom, me & Phil on his 20th birthday (2008)

Tim, me, Phil, Brian ~ last family photo taken of the four of us ~ Phil's 21st birthday (2009)

What Would've Been Phil's 25th Birthday 
(Sorry for the missing photos in this post - Blogger messed up my blog at one time.)
What Would've Been

Some Writings about Phil and Addiction (again, I apologize for the missing photos)
Honesty About a Delicate Subject


"...addiction can exist in people's lives alongside wonderful connections with other people, wonderful accomplishments, and wonderful abilities. Second, this problem touches so many people in so many different ways. We hold many stereotypes about what opiate addiction is like, what heroin users are like. These stereotypes just don't match the human experience of many people with opiate use disorders or the experiences of their friends and family members."
100 Americans Die of Drug Overdoses Each Day

How Heroin is Invading America's Schools

Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
What is Addiction? 

The new definition also describes addiction as a primary disease, meaning that it's not the result of other causes, such as emotional or psychiatric problems. And like cardiovascular disease and diabetes, addiction is recognized as a chronic disease; so it must be treated, managed and monitored over a person's lifetime, the researchers say.
Addiction Now Defined as a Brain Disorder


(by Christine Runge - Phil's friend)

I know what today is.
I have no need to mark the calendar.
I know what today is.

It's the day I got a call that made my legs go out from under me.
I dropped to a crouch and covered my face, as though that could protect me from the wave of grief that crashed into me and over me.
I cried until I couldn't cry anymore.
I aimlessly wandered the house because I wasn't sure what else to do.
I sat down at the piano and wrote a song. It wasn't the kind of music you would've liked, but you would never hear it anyway.
Knowing that, I cried again. I put the song away so I wouldn't have to think about it, or you.
You were my friend, and I loved you like a brother.
I was too shy to tell you how cool and smart and funny I thought you were.

How your smile always made me smile.
How much it meant to me that you came to my baptism. In fact, I think that was the last time I saw you. I passed you in the hallway, almost not processing your presence because of my excitement.
I exclaimed that I was so glad you could come, and you lit up. "I wouldn't miss it for the world."
When I think of you, that moment is one of my favorite memories.
Humble, unselfish, and a good friend.
I don't know what made you make the choices you did.
I know that you wouldn't have made them if you saw the pain that your absence has caused.
You loved your family so much, anyone could see it; they miss you like crazy, you know.
I do, too. I tell anyone I can about you.
And no, I don't tell them how you died, unless it will make a difference.
If they understand the pain of loss.
If they wrestle with the same demons.
But mostly I just tell them about this great guy I used to know, and how being his friend changed my life.
So yeah, I know what today is, but it doesn't matter.
I can remember you every day.


  1. It always amazes me how we all cross each other's paths and how we are brought together. Our paths crossed through a mutual friend, Rue.

    I'm so sorry for your loss...I know the grief never ends. I've had a cousin, a sister-in-law, and an almost ex-husband (long story) die from drugs. It is never easy and we are always left with the same question, "why?".

  2. Melanie,
    Almost everyone's family has been touched by this same trouble. You are not alone, but that doesn't ease the sorrow or the loss.

  3. I am so terribly sorry for your loss - I lost my first husband because of his addictions and it's so difficult to think of the life that was wasted because of poor life choices. I am so sorry for you. xo

  4. Melanie,
    I found your blog via Cozy Little House. I'm so sorry for your loss. I know there are no words that will ease the ache in your heart. My son's friend died a similar death and we were devastated. I pray for comfort and peace for you and your family.

  5. We have lost several of my sons' schoolmates to addiction. There are no words that could ever come close to saying you how sorry I am for your loss. God bless you and your family. xoxo

    ~ Wendy

  6. I have visited here often via Cozy Little House. I want to share that my daughter died almost 18 months ago, of anorexia. She was 29. She was talented, attractive and accomplished. But anorexia is like an addiction to drugs in a lot of ways, and it had such a grip on her. Thank you for sharing about your beloved and lovely son and for giving others an opportunity to comment. There is some solace in sharing about our losses and giving support. God bless you.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a kind comment - I read and appreciate each one!