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REMEMBERING TOMMY STALTARI

Birth: 3/24/87 – Death: 1/5/17

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Adam Lonardo, who was a great friend to my son, asked my daughter and I if we would write a story of his life. I want to share his story, I want you to know what a beautiful person he was, what happened when he took that drug, and what happened when he got sober. Here is a little glimpse of my son’s life and what he meant to me and his family.

Smart and Savvy

Born March 24, 1987 was a blue eyed bald-headed baby named Thomas Anthony Staltari. He was a very good baby – he slept well and ate well and that didn’t change in the course of his life. He was a quiet child and was constantly in the shadow of his big sissy, following her around like a puppy.

At the age of three or four, Tom had his first experience on the ice. He started to learn to skate and shortly thereafter started the sport of hockey. He grew in this sport like no other, he was a great skater and an even greater hockey player. The sport was him and he was the sport. He had skills and his hockey took him to playing for the Cleveland Junior Barons AAA hockey. He was heading towards playing for College, AHL or even NHL. He won medals and newspapers wrote articles about him. It was the best time of our lives. He was very smart and savvy at a young age and people gravitated towards him. He had a lot of charisma – something that was both a blessing and a curse for him. 

Addiction Takes Hold

As Tom got older, some of his behaviors – like drinking at a party in 8th grade – started to concern me. The drinking increased through high school, as well as marijuana consumption, which then started to switch over to opiate pills. He was still playing hockey, but things were declining fast. My relationship with him was very tense, our family was running out of patience, and not understanding drug addiction at the time, we were all spiraling out of control. 

While some of Tom’s relationships were nice and okay, others proved to be devastating and deadly. Traveling down the path of addiction (of any kind, not just drugs) means finding friends and significant others with similar interests. Shortly after one of Tom’s toxic relationships, he began to use heroin. I will never forget the day he called and told me. In my heart I knew this was the beginning of the end.

Immediately, he and I both knew he was in trouble, and thus began the endless drug use and rehabs.  My son always wanted to get sober, but holding onto his addiction led to even bigger issues. Tom began a stent of stealing, going to jail and using. This is not a unique set of circumstances but it was unique to him and to us.

 

We as a family tried everything we could to help him, but ultimately it was his mind and cravings that became the reoccurring theme. He would work the 12-step program and I know for a fact his faith had been a big part of his life. He mended his fences with who he needed to and we enjoyed many years of time together. He was active, helpful to others, even helpful to me when I would be disgruntled about something in my life. He always had a sensitive uplifting message and for that I am grateful. He began rebuilding his life, but then a woman would come into the picture and his meetings would fall behind, his 12-step program would fall behind - and self-destruction became his pattern.

On January 5, 2017, my worst fears had become a reality and the confusion around the night of my son’s death and the days to follow was overwhelming. I ended up getting very sick with active ulcerative colitis and lost 15 pounds in two weeks. My heart and my mind were the saddest I have ever been in my life. I had to make decisions I never wanted to make.

Addiction Takes Hold

As Tom got older, some of his behaviors – like drinking at a party in 8th grade – started to concern me. The drinking increased through high school, as well as marijuana consumption, which then started to switch over to opiate pills. He was still playing hockey, but things were declining fast. My relationship with him was very tense, our family was running out of patience, and not understanding drug addiction at the time, we were all spiraling out of control. 

While some of Tom’s relationships were nice and okay, others proved to be devastating and deadly. Traveling down the path of addiction (of any kind, not just drugs) means finding friends and significant others with similar interests. Shortly after one of Tom’s toxic relationships, he began to use heroin. I will never forget the day he called and told me. In my heart I knew this was the beginning of the end.

Immediately, he and I both knew he was in trouble, and thus began the endless drug use and rehabs.  My son always wanted to get sober, but holding onto his addiction led to even bigger issues. Tom began a stent of stealing, going to jail and using. This is not a unique set of circumstances but it was unique to him and to us.

 

We as a family tried everything we could to help him, but ultimately it was his mind and cravings that became the reoccurring theme. He would work the 12-step program and I know for a fact his faith had been a big part of his life. He mended his fences with who he needed to and we enjoyed many years of time together. He was active, helpful to others, even helpful to me when I would be disgruntled about something in my life. He always had a sensitive uplifting message and for that I am grateful. He began rebuilding his life, but then a woman would come into the picture and his meetings would fall behind, his 12-step program would fall behind - and self-destruction became his pattern.

On January 5, 2017, my worst fears had become a reality and the confusion around the night of my son’s death and the days to follow was overwhelming. I ended up getting very sick with active ulcerative colitis and lost 15 pounds in two weeks. My heart and my mind were the saddest I have ever been in my life. I had to make decisions I never wanted to make.

Addiction Takes Hold

As Tom got older, some of his behaviors – like drinking at a party in 8th grade – started to concern me. The drinking increased through high school, as well as marijuana consumption, which then started to switch over to opiate pills. He was still playing hockey, but things were declining fast. My relationship with him was very tense, our family was running out of patience, and not understanding drug addiction at the time, we were all spiraling out of control. 

While some of Tom’s relationships were nice and okay, others proved to be devastating and deadly. Traveling down the path of addiction (of any kind, not just drugs) means finding friends and significant others with similar interests. Shortly after one of Tom’s toxic relationships, he began to use heroin. I will never forget the day he called and told me. In my heart I knew this was the beginning of the end.

Immediately, he and I both knew he was in trouble, and thus began the endless drug use and rehabs.  My son always wanted to get sober, but holding onto his addiction led to even bigger issues. Tom began a stent of stealing, going to jail and using. This is not a unique set of circumstances but it was unique to him and to us.

 

We as a family tried everything we could to help him, but ultimately it was his mind and cravings that became the reoccurring theme. He would work the 12-step program and I know for a fact his faith had been a big part of his life. He mended his fences with who he needed to and we enjoyed many years of time together. He was active, helpful to others, even helpful to me when I would be disgruntled about something in my life. He always had a sensitive uplifting message and for that I am grateful. He began rebuilding his life, but then a woman would come into the picture and his meetings would fall behind, his 12-step program would fall behind - and self-destruction became his pattern.

On January 5, 2017, my worst fears had become a reality and the confusion around the night of my son’s death and the days to follow was overwhelming. I ended up getting very sick with active ulcerative colitis and lost 15 pounds in two weeks. My heart and my mind were the saddest I have ever been in my life. I had to make decisions I never wanted to make.

Follow Christ's Light

The devil sends his minions to do his bidding when you’re weak and he knows your pleasures and uses them. This is not just for someone with a drinking or drug problem, it is for everyone. In my estimation for all that I have lived, Christ is my lifeline and I do not let go, because if I do I will turn left when I should have turned right. This is something that I pray and do every day, I go to church as much as possible and I like what I am doing. That is the key: Christ can change you and give you that hope that no one, no man and no woman, can do. The rehabilitation centers and houses are guided by Christ’s light. My suggestion to anyone who is listening is follow that light, hang with the winners, people who want to change and keep praying to never give up. He can change you, your inside, and the way you think about things. I wouldn’t say it if it were not true. That has been my experience.

When my son was sober, I cherished those memories because he and I had a bond like no other. Our personalities are similar and our weird humor! I would take him and his friends to 12-step meetings when he lived with me and watched him have happiness when he could. His sobriety and the people in his life gave me the opportunity to have more time with him, so I do thank God for what the 12-step program, sober homes and the people that were true to the program and themselves did for him and for our family.

Follow Christ's Light

The devil sends his minions to do his bidding when you’re weak and he knows your pleasures and uses them. This is not just for someone with a drinking or drug problem, it is for everyone. In my estimation for all that I have lived, Christ is my lifeline and I do not let go, because if I do I will turn left when I should have turned right. This is something that I pray and do every day, I go to church as much as possible and I like what I am doing. That is the key: Christ can change you and give you that hope that no one, no man and no woman, can do. The rehabilitation centers and houses are guided by Christ’s light. My suggestion to anyone who is listening is follow that light, hang with the winners, people who want to change and keep praying to never give up. He can change you, your inside, and the way you think about things. I wouldn’t say it if it were not true. That has been my experience.

When my son was sober, I cherished those memories because he and I had a bond like no other. Our personalities are similar and our weird humor! I would take him and his friends to 12-step meetings when he lived with me and watched him have happiness when he could. His sobriety and the people in his life gave me the opportunity to have more time with him, so I do thank God for what the 12-step program, sober homes and the people that were true to the program and themselves did for him and for our family.

Follow Christ's Light

The devil sends his minions to do his bidding when you’re weak and he knows your pleasures and uses them. This is not just for someone with a drinking or drug problem, it is for everyone. In my estimation for all that I have lived, Christ is my lifeline and I do not let go, because if I do I will turn left when I should have turned right. This is something that I pray and do every day, I go to church as much as possible and I like what I am doing. That is the key: Christ can change you and give you that hope that no one, no man and no woman, can do. The rehabilitation centers and houses are guided by Christ’s light. My suggestion to anyone who is listening is follow that light, hang with the winners, people who want to change and keep praying to never give up. He can change you, your inside, and the way you think about things. I wouldn’t say it if it were not true. That has been my experience.

When my son was sober, I cherished those memories because he and I had a bond like no other. Our personalities are similar and our weird humor! I would take him and his friends to 12-step meetings when he lived with me and watched him have happiness when he could. His sobriety and the people in his life gave me the opportunity to have more time with him, so I do thank God for what the 12-step program, sober homes and the people that were true to the program and themselves did for him and for our family.

Healing with Faith

After the funeral, I brought my son’s ashes home and they remained with me for three and a half years. His final resting place is now in a Catholic cemetery in a mausoleum. I travelled to all the holy places I could, seeking God to help me with my pain. I felt like I was dragging myself through the mud and hitting spikes along the way. I did, however, through the course of going to the Holy Land, Lourdes, Medjugorje, Poland and Italy, begin to heal. My life is forever changed because what is meant for evil, God will use for good!

 

People I know whose grown children have died reach out to me and I do speak to them and they have said it helped them so much. I am not going to beat the drum and get active with any of the organizations. I had a decade of battling Tom’s addiction with him and it almost killed me, not only physically, but spiritually as well, but in the long run my faith grew like it would have never grown due to this situation. I remember the day I finally understood it and had joys in my trials. It took me a long time to get to that point, but I did get there and with the help of Jesus I was able to accept Tom for who he was.

 

Thank you very much for the privilege of sharing with you and may God bless you and your families. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Amen!

For those struggling with addiction recovery: these are important moments in your life, please do not disregard what you hear. Just let it sink in and ask God to take it from there. Your life doesn’t have to end like my son’s.

LAURIE//MOTHER