Stephanie Young: An "Angel Mom" Shares Her Story

Stephanie Young: An "Angel Mom" Shares Her Story



My name is Stephanie, I am 44 years old and now an Angel Mom.  I married very young and had my only child, my son Zach when I was 25.  On 12/12/99 the best day of my life, my son was born. I had a very difficult pregnancy and delivery, and he was a miracle.  I was married to an abusive man that I finally had the courage to divorce when my son was 5.  I used to be a single mom that worked very hard to provide for my wonderful amazing son Zach, I strived to give him the best life he could have in a nice house and spoil him as much as I could. He was my drive to be successful, it was always just him and me, and I never remarried and didn’t date much for he was my main focus.  We knew that no matter what we always had each other and that was enough for me.  I have always loved the Beautiful Disaster brand and had to have all the shirts, I thought I was a hot mess of a struggling single mom, I thought I was a beautiful disaster for years but I was wrong my tragedy hadn’t even begun. 

 

On 9/9/16 my life as I knew it was over. I went to wake my son up for school - he was 16 now. When I went into his room I will never forget seeing his lifeless body half way on his bed.  My world has just ended, my baby boy I loved and protected as much as I could have passed away.  This is why I am now called an Angel Mom.  This is a pain that will never go away, I am no longer the same bubbly person I used to be and I never will be again. You can’t even explain the pain of losing a child; I never would have understood it before that day. 

 

My life has changed forever since losing my only child my son Zach.  He was only 16 years old when he died so young and full of life.  Zach wasn’t your typical druggie, he was battling severe depression that he was hiding from everyone and self-medicating with drugs. He also had ADD and an Auditory Processing Disorder, he didn’t like to take his Adderall because he didn’t like being different.  He didn’t want anyone to know he was sad, he was always trying to help others anyone he could and wanted everyone around him happy.  He had the biggest heart. If anyone ever needed anything he was always there for them in a second without hesitation. 

He had a deep love for animals, we always had so many and his dogs were his life especially his bulldog George, he took such great care of him.  Zach grew up a happy child with a great love of water with swimming that turned into his passion for the ocean and his love for surfing.  He also started sports at a very early age and loved football and really learned to love that sport more in High School as he understood the sport more.  He was very active with sports in High School, he played football he was a left tackle starter, never missed a practice or a game, he took great pride in his sport and being a team player. 

He also wrestled and learned much from that sport to help him in football as that was very grueling sport and took a lot of time and dedication, he also did not miss any of that.  If he wasn’t playing sports he was surfing, he loved the beach very much and being in the ocean that was his happy place brought him peace. 

Zach also did not like to miss school even when he was sick, he would say “Mom its ok it’s just not worth it, easier just for me to go.”  He liked structure and routines very much.  He had plans for his future, he wanted to join the Navy, he knew that would be so good for him and it would give him the structure and guidance he needed.  It was his idea to join after he graduated. One day he came home from school with a bunch of Navy stuff and said “Mom I am going to join the Navy when I graduate I talked to a recruiter at school today.”  He was so excited he got a Navy lanyard keychain and put his house key on it and carried it everywhere. 

He also dreamed of marrying his longtime girlfriend Baylee right after graduation so that she could live on base while he was in the Navy.  He wanted to have kids one day and another bulldog puppy.  This is a kid that had dreams and goals.  He was so good with kids too, very patient and would often babysit for family.  I wish I had known about his severe depression earlier, the first time he let me know was in April 2016 when he had a mental breakdown and he was sober, he said “I want to die, mom you just don’t understand what goes on inside my head, it hurts.”  It was then I could see how much pain he truly was in he was uncontrollably crying and shaking. 

He wanted us to call the crisis team and they came and evaluated him and had him taken by ambulance to the hospital then transferred to Vista Del Mar, psychiatric hospital where he was there for a week.  It was at Vista Del Mar where they put him on Prozac.  He said it seemed to help a little bit; we also started with a therapist and a psychiatrist for counseling for him.  He was doing well for a little bit, trying to adjust.  Then in June 2016 he went back to Vista Del Mar for another week and from discharge from there went straight to rehab at Action Family Counseling for 37 days.  He came home from rehab very happy and wanting to be sober to live life and embrace it.  It was summer so he went surfing every day and that really made him happy.  He also started running to get in shape too for football coming up. 

For the new school year Zach attended Thousand Oaks High School instead of Newbury just for a fresh start and he didn’t fight it he embraced it.  He made friends fast there and was accepted on the football team very quick even though he just came from their #1 rivalry school where he played.  He jumped right in and became a full team player and liked his teammates.  That was just who Zach was. 

It wasn’t until that fateful day of Sept 8, 2016 when he saw Ross at Carl’s Jr.  If I had known that I would have stayed up all night and watched Zach to make sure he didn’t go anywhere and that no one came over.  I never dreamed that I would wake up Sept 9, 2016 to my worst possible nightmare ever, my Zach laying there half on the bed, unconscious with his mouth partially open, his dog George not leaving is side, his bedroom window wide open which never is and it faces the front of our house.  I knew right then something was wrong someone left him and panicked.  Why couldn’t they knock on the bedroom window next or scream and run???  Instead of leaving my son just to die.  I yelled for my cousin Joe right away and called 911 and he did CPR on Zach until the paramedics came but it was too late, Zach had been gone already.  I have not been the same since that day nor will I ever be, most me died the day Zach did.  My life is now empty and lonely, he was my whole life.  I couldn’t go to work for 3 ½ months, I was afraid to even leave my house in fear of seeing Ross and having a mental breakdown myself.  I did intensive counseling with a grief therapist and psychiatrist and have to take medication to get thru the day.  I still have daily breakdowns, no matter how much times passes it still seems like yesterday, I miss my son so much it hurts.  I went from having this wonderful child that made me laugh every day and took such great care of me and to me running around to all his sporting events to now complete emptiness.  The house no longer has his big smile or laugh, no more Friday night football, no more dinner dates with him, no more movies with him.  I will never see him get married, have kids.  He was the best son; he would every year for Christmas go to Kay’s jeweler and buy me a really nice bracelet, necklace or ring, with his own money he would just get for his birthday on Dec 12th.  He would always be so excited to give it me on Christmas too and tell me that he hoped I liked it and it made me so proud he would do such nice things for me.  Now I dread the month of December first his birthday then Christmas, I used to love that month I would decorate the house all up and we would bake cookies, now I don’t decorate or bake.  The one joy in my life is now gone forever my son Zach, he was truly a remarkable lovable person. 

After he passed I heard from many people that Zach helped them, he didn’t even know some of them well or long but they would talk to him and he would listen and try and lift them up when they were down.  Others would say he would just smile at them at school in the halls passing and they didn’t know each other but his big smile always made people feel good, he was just that way and always liked people never judged others.  His life was taken too soon. I feel he could have helped more people. 

He just needed to get his depression taken care of and I think maybe he needed more medication or a different kind from April to Sept isn’t that long of a time to fix severe depression.  He just needed more time that was taken away.  I am grateful for the most amazing 16 years I had him as my son and would never change that for anything.  Each day is still a struggle for me, I am working like I always have and have that thankfully to occupy my time and my mind.  I also recently started speaking with “Not One More” to kids to help prevent this horrible epidemic that continues to harm people we love.  Speaking is still hard for me but I know Zach needs a voice and I need to be that voice for him. Thank you for reading my story and seeing how I now am truly a beautiful disaster, for the brand name means even more to me now.

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Comments

terrilynn May 16 2020

I am sitting on the couch, waiting for my 16 year old to come home..she is walking a very similar path.. she has been struggling with addictions, depression and anxiety, its escalating again. I feel broken, and I’m so tired.

Jodi May 5 2020

Hi Stephannie💜
I saw Angel Mom & Knew this would Break My Heart. I am one too. Your Story was Beautifully put together & relayed as Only a Grieving Parent(s)can Fully Understand that Gut Wrenching Pain/Anger. As I read your Story I had Flashbacks of my Own Loss her name was Jordi💜 Our Stories are So Similar I felt like I was reading about Myself/Daughter. My Daughter Self Medicated too~her DOC was Pot. She was Asthmatic & Had Panic/Anxiety Attacks so constantly had Shakes from Allergy Meds OR Panic/Anxiety. My Daughter also had the Break Down in Our Living Room & I saw My Dad Cry (1st x Ever) along w/Her. She kept saying “Why Wont any Man love me? Why do they Leave Me?” It was then we Realized She “Hurt” Bad from Her Dad Not being Around & He Himself was on Drugs. Her Boyfriend of Years literally Came out that he was Gay on FB & Soo much More. It hurts me to Write this as I’ve “Forgotten” this Memory or it was so horrific I threw it to Back of My Mind like it didn’t Happen. I had Problems finding “Help” for my Then 16 yr old As far as Mental Health. They kept putting her on Antidepressants that Made her Shake even more which..led her Back to Pot. I have a “Ross” too..except his name was Brandon. He was WITH my Daughter when she Died Day After EASTER. So like You I don’t like the Month of April & Christmas will Always be VERY Difficult. The window being left open also brought Flashbacks as for Me..Very Scary/Sad & Gut Wrenching Pain I don’t even like to think back to. I’ve been helping Teens as Counselor/Speaker & Legal Advocate for “Teen Domestic Violence” as Truly HOW my Daughter was killed. She had Court in 2 Days against her Ex Bf for Assault~having a broken Jaw & Fractured Cheek. I had Called her Dad & for 1ST time ever asked him to Come get her as were moving Soon as Court is Over. He agreed but Never Showed. As State Troopers were Notifying Me He called & Said “Tell Jordi I’m Sorry but I’m on my Way.” I think Back to How Cold I was as I told him “too late-Shes gone, police are here~she was killed last Night” He thought I was playing a Sick Game & just mad @ Him~Until he Saw the News on TV. He’d tried going to Hospital to Kill Jordis Ex & Police Caught him as they were Forewarned by His Girlfriend. Thank God bcuz the News got Story All Wrong & News Never Recants an Incorrect Story. Fast Forward Year(s)~ Jordis Dad had seen My Youngest Daughter & I for 1ST time w/Out Jordi, so later that Day-He Committed Suicide. We had Not seen him that Day when he saw Us. We thought of Him as My Youngest Daughter had Brought him up & I had Planned on Calling him Soon as we made it home from our Mtn. Trip. When I got Home I received the News~he had Moved to the Mtns & Told Family/Friends.”it’s Closer to Jordi & Closer to God.” No one Else tried Stopping him either😢 It’s Very Sad we get lost in our Own Grief & Forget others May be hurting too BUT we have to take Care of our Own Mental Psychie 1ST before Anyone else. What IF I didn’t have my Youngest Daughter Who Needed me? I don’t know Where I’d be Right Now. I truly Don’t. Every Angelversary like Yourself, I’m Sure, I think “Wonder IF Jordi would be Happily “Married” maybe have Children of her Own?” Like Your Zack She LOVED Kids & Loved All Animals. I remember she’d argue w/my Dad & Say “Our Animals DO Go to Heaven!!” “If there’s Snakes in Hell then My Fur Babies passed are in Heaven waiting for Me!” Your Zach is a Very Handsome Man! I’m sure Now an Angel & Definitely a Guardian Angel watching Over You! Im Confident God lets him watch over You & Help Protect You. I know as an Angel Mom you’ve wondered IF certain times it was Him visiting or Giving you a Sign?💜❤️ There are NO feelings a Grieving Mom/Sibling have that’s Incorrect or Wrong. There’s DEF Not a Textbook/How to Guide. The only thing that’s Wrong is someone Else telling you HOW you “Should” Feel/Act. There was a Quote I Read in a Magazine as I’m Sitting “Alone” & waiting to Identify Jordi😥 it hit Me So Hard as something Jordi would Say~I had it put in her Funeral Arrangements. “Until We Meet Again~ May God hold You in Palm of His Hand”💜 Funeral Director said “We Can’t Do this.. there’s Not Enough time” 😳Did He Really Just say this to Me??! I’m Paying him Thousands of 💰 AND He wants to discuss “Not Enough Time..”w/Me?! I was shocked w/myself Not 1 F 💣 dropped but I Did tell him “Well we’ll Change My Daughters Burial Date bcuz I Really don’t think I can do this Anyway!” I’m Always late & I’ve often Heard the Phrase “you’ll be late for your Own Funeral” Thats Not too funny Because I was late to My Moms in hopes it couldn’t Go on W/Out Me..then Late for my Daughters Wake too! Jordis was Lil of “I can’t do this” & 💯% of Hospital calling Me saying “We have 2 Patients on table receiving her Corneas when our Office Recvd a Phone Call Stating she “May” have dated a Homosexual…We Need to know IF she’s had an AIDS test prior to her passing?” One Can NOT make this Craziness Up!! Ironically She Did have an AIDS test-Month Prior I put her in Rehab/Mental Eval & they Required one. I Hope Your Doing Good during this Quarantine? Times like this we Realize there’s More Parents Joining this Club we’re in-one We don’t want Any More Mother/Father to Join. Please Know there’s Another Angel Mom thinking of You & Hoping Your Doing Ok tonight/Morn. IF you Ever Need to Talk~I’ll listen. My Name is Above for you to Reach Me. I’m thinking there’s Not Many Jodi’s with Last Name of Bone (legit 🦴) I’m on Instagram Daily😬 & FB periodically. My thoughts are with You. Promise to never Forget Your Story of Zach💙💙 I Went Shopping on Website I’ve loved for Years & Found Another “Angel Mom” who’s Life is running Parallel to mine. Hugs & 💜To You!!

Pam May 4 2020

You have written such a beautiful, heartfelt tribute (story) about Zach and your life. I had no idea the struggles Zach went through but I did know some of your sacrifices and how much you loved your son.
I think of you often and hope you find some peace as the years go by.

Valery May 4 2020

What a beautifully tragic story. Beautiful because of the wonderful relationship you had with your son who was an absolutely amazing person. The tragic part is obvious. I just want to point out that your son was very lucky to have you for 16 years. I know from personal experience when kids end up on drugs a lot of parents kick their kids to the streets or disown them entirely. Family should love unconditionally. Be there for each other even more so in hard times. Help each other no matter what. You are a great example of what a good parent should be. Devoted and unconditionally loving. Willing to do anything for the ones they love. I got clean myself after wasting ten years of my life and wish I had a parent or anyone that cared about me enough not to judge and beat me down but instead to care and help and lift me up. Unfortunately, love doesn’t save everyone but for some people that’s all that’s needed to make a difference in their life. Your story is truly inspirational and you should keep speaking out. Not only can your sons story help other kids in crisis but your story will surely inspire other parents to love their children unconditionally as you have. What a beautifully strong disaster you are. Nothing will ever fill the hole left by your son but i hope you can somehow find peace with the situation. Thank you so much for your strength and bravery and inspiration. You’re a beautiful soul.

MELISSA May 4 2020

I’m truly sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you! I know that your son would be so proud of you for your strength and courage to tell his story and help other kids that share the internal struggles that he had. I don’t know of anything that could make your daily pain go away but I thank you for sharing your story and journey with us. God bless you! ❤️

Miranda May 4 2020

Hi Stephanie,

Hugs your way and THANK YOU for sharing your story about your son. I am sorry for your loss and the suffering that has followed. I lost my husband to this epidemic in 2018, and the only way we can find the peace and healing that we need to survive this is to get the stories of our warriors out to those who are still here fighting. I would love to get with you about the non-profit Fight the War Within Foundation which we just launched to help those battling internal wars. Shoot me an email!

Hugs and healing your way,

Miranda
Miranda@fightthewarwithin.org

Roxane May 4 2020

From one Angel Mom to another…my heart breaks for you. I too lost my only child, my son, on August 12 2015, he was 19yrs old, he died in a car accident.
I gave birth to Damon when I was 19yrs old. I also raised him as a single mom and he’s my reason for being.
Great big hugs to you, you’re an incredibly strong wonderful mom❣🤗💖 xoxo

Jennifer May 3 2020

I’m so terribly sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you. 😘