A Night of Hope 2015

On Thursday, December 17, 2015 we held our 3rd annual “A Night of Hope” at St. Robert Bellarmine.

The evening began at 6:30 pm with live music and then at 7:00 pm our guest speakers shared their inspirational stories of hardships and how their faith renewed their lives.

Please take a few moments to watch videos of the speakers from the 2015 A Night of Hope Event.

Jeff Kopietz

Split Second Decisions

Vanessa Hamill

Finding Hope in Broken Places

Jennifer Taute

Surviving a Child’s Addictions
Please read the full speech here...

Please note: Unfortunately we did not capture Jennifer’s full speech on video, but you can read the full text below.

Tyler’s journey:

I want to start off thanking Teresa Kopietz for having this vision and for being patient with me.  She asked me to talk last year and we just weren’t ready.  Also, thanks to my sister, Debbie Marcil, for encouraging me to share our story so I can give others hope.  I decided to tell our story not for pity, but to educate.  Maybe we can be of support to someone else.  It truly takes a village to raise children. We are thankful this is our village.

 

On April 3, 1992, a 6lb., 11oz. blonde hair baby boy was placed in my arms.  I was lucky enough to be in the room when his birthmother gave birth to him.  I got to see his first breath.  Dan and I were finally parents to our first son, Tyler Patrick Taute, after years of infertility.

 

That is the beginning of our story.  Tyler was a typical boy with a love for lawnmowers, trucks and all sports.  He had a faith-filled family that adored him, parents who were very involved in his day to day activities and a wonderful group of friends.  His years at St. Robert’s were of a typical child.  He tended to be a bit of a class clown but never was a behavior problem in the classroom.

When Tyler was in 6th grade, a neighbor who was a very close friend and was in the 8th grade, died suddenly.  Then his first couple of days in high school he lost another dear friend.  Both of these deaths had a huge impact on all of us, but especially Tyler.  Another part of the equation that added to Tyler’s poor decision making was that Tyler’s birthmother was a drug addict and birthfather was an alcoholic which we knew from the beginning.  But, we truly believed that our love would conquer all.

During his High School years – We started to notice that Ty had a chip on his shoulder.  He began to get in trouble for senseless things at Prep.  Shirt untucked, parking in the wrong place, and who knows what else.  We would tell him to “play the game”.  Do what you are told and expected to do.   Soph. year – This proved to

 

 

be a very challenging year for all of us.  Tyler went to a counselor at Boys Town.  We had concerns as to his attitude, low grades, jugs, demerits and 9th hour at Prep.  After seeing Ty for quite a few sessions, the counselor told me that he was much better than the kids she dealt with at Boys Town, boy was she wrong!  Tyler always tells me that my mother’s intuition is always right!

Because of his poor choices, Tyler slept on our couch in our room and was grounded most of his sophomore year.  Tyler later told us that he started taking other kids’ ADD medicine and then it escalated to more pills, pot and other drugs.  Of course, we did not know this at the time.  His new group of friends were bad influences on him.  We tried to steer him towards his old friends, but that’s easier said than done! One thing we were really grateful for was that he actually graduated from Prep!

Tyler went to college for a semester and came home because of his grades and not attending class.

  • After he was home for a while, he decided to move out because he did not like our rules and our constant questioning him as to where he was and what he was doing. He was living on couches of “friends”.

Some things that happened during this time that caused us to question what he was actually doing.  We had our suspicions, but had no idea the severity of it.

 

–       $4,000 was charged on our credit card – he used it

at stores and gave what he purchased in exchange

for drugs.

  • Gas and Go’s – he would put gas in his car and leave without paying, the gas stations have cameras and the managers then get the license and track down the individual
  • He would tell us many lies and then he would do things to gain his trust for a bit, and then lies again – a vicious cycle
  • He would tell he that was putting job apps in, but just wasn’t getting the jobs
  • Labor Day 2011 – I found out I was missing some jewelry. I thought I was losing my mind and just mentioned to Dan.  He then noticed that a ring that he had earned from his company was missing.  We were both just sick.
  • I did some investigating and went to a pawn shop to see if they happened to have my jewelry. They did and they even had my mom’s wedding ring.

 

  • Called Ty to meet me at the pawn shop. I remember him sitting in his car and I just asked him what was going on?  He told me he had a very serious drug problem, he was shooting up heroine.  I had to ask what that even meant.  At this point, the tears were streaming down my cheeks.

 

  • I spent the next couple of days looking for a treatment program. We found one and he lasted a few days and they kicked him out for not following the rules.  We told him that the ball was in his court and that he could not come home.  Ty quickly found another treatment facility on his own and we drove him there to Salina, Kansas.  He was there for 30 days and we thought that he seemed better.  So much support from family and friends…..cards, letters – we were hopeful.
  • Shortly after, he began using drugs again – he was able to hide it all well.

 

All the while he was seeing our doc for depression, sleeplessness, seeing a counselor.  Trainer at the JCC — we were not giving up on him.

 

June 2012 – I went to put some change in our “piggy bank” and noticed that the change was gone.  My heart sank – we had our suspicions that he was using again.  That night he was crying and talking about the demons and how depressed he was.  We made an appt. with the doc and the counselor the next day.  Ty went to our doc and pinky promised with her that he wasn’t using, she gave him sleeping pills and an anti-depressant.

It is here that I journaled about the upcoming events.  I am so glad that I did.  It is amazing how much you tend to not remember.

 

July 4 – We were so happy that he spent the entire day with us.  It was so nice to have him with us all day.  I remember looking for track marks and there wasn’t any that were visible to me.  A sense of relief for me, but we were being fooled.

 

July 9 – The doorbell rang in the evening.  I answered and it was a nice gentleman asking if I had a son named Tyler.  I said yes with a very heavy heart because I knew it wasn’t going to be good. He proceeded to tell me that Ty had stolen a $500-$600 blower from his trailer about 2-3 weeks prior.  This gentleman said he had four boys of his own who had made many poor choices too. He wanted to work this out w/o getting the police involved.  I told him maybe the police should get involved.  I let him know that I would talk with my husband and that we’d figure out something with Tyler to pay him back.  Little did we know that this gentleman saved our son’s life.  That night I had a huge anxiety attack.  I slept with my rosary under my pillow as I knew what was ahead for all of us was not good.  Later I found out that Tyler came home after I fell asleep and his dad and sister both noticed that he was visibly high.  Dan had talked to Ty about the blower and Tyler had denied it.  Sadly, we knew it was true.

 

July 10 – I sent Ty a text the next morning saying that I “was done”.  Tyler just recently told me that he remembers that text.  He supposedly had gone to work that day and I did not hear from him all day.  I texted him later in the afternoon saying that we needed to discuss the stealing of the blower and how he was going to handle restitution.  I called the gentleman and left a message that Dan, Tyler and I were going to sit down that night and get a plan together.

 

That evening I continued to text Ty to find out when he’d be home.  He claimed he was eating dinner and would be home soon.  Finally, around 9:45 that night he came home.  It was truly the first time that I knew something was terribly wrong.  He wouldn’t come close to me to talk.  We discussed the stealing and that he was

not raised that way.  He replied at one point, “I LOVE MONEY!”.  Really that translated to – I love drugs.  At this point, we figured Tyler would either end up in                           a wooden box or in jail.  Dan escorted him to his room and told him that he would wake him up at 7:45 am, so he could call the gentleman and apologize for stealing the blower and get a plan together.

 

July 11, 2012:

 

Dan went downstairs into Tyler’s room to wake him up at 7:45am, it was one thing that we never had to do was wake Ty up.  I happened to hear Dan yell Tyler’s name very loudly while trying to wake him up.  Dan was shaking him, yelling his name and he even threw a glass of water on him to try and arouse him.  Dan yelled for me and I ran downstairs, glanced in Ty’s room and noticed that he was very pale and lifeless.  I think Dan and I said at the same time to call 911.

I told the 911 operator that my 20 y.o. son was unresponsive, a drug addict.  He told me to ask Dan to check for a pulse.  I peeked in his room again and now noticed that he was no longer pale, but turning blue.  He had a pulse, but appeared to have stopped breathing.  Dan would shake him and he would start back up breathing.  The operator told me to tell Dan to move Ty to the floor and to be ready to do chest compressions.  The operator said to tilt his head to the side in case he vomited.  It was about then that I heard the fire truck sirens.  On my way outside to flag the first responders down, I saw Shayla sitting on the entry stairs hysterical.  I remember telling her to “be strong”.  I was also whispering to myself those same words.  Dan later told me that while he was with Tyler in his room and he was frantically trying to keep him alive, he kept telling him that he has a story to tell, this is not how this story is going to end.  Dan pleaded with Tyler to hang in there so he could share his story with others.

Jared and Shayla called my parents, Aunt Deb and my brothers.  I would not let the kids go downstairs to see Tyler.  It was an image that I did not want them to see.  It is an image that Dan and I will live with forever.

My parents came at this time and my Mom gave me a huge hug with lots of tears in her eyes.  I asked them to take care of Jared and Shayla and to not let them look out the window.  I did not want them to see their big brother on a stretcher being loaded into an ambulance.

As they were taking Tyler out of the house on the stretcher I heard one of the paramedics say that he gave a thumbs up.  I thought that meant that he would get to the hospital, have his stomach pumped and then be home that night.  I knew we would have to address his drug addiction the next day.

There were 3 cop cars, fire truck and rescue squad all at our house when we headed to Methodist ER.  I felt like every red light was taking forever.  When we got to the ER they were already working on Tyler.  Dan and I were checking in and out of the corner of my eye I saw my sister, Deb.  Thank God!  She is my best friend and my rock!

We waited in the ER waiting room in silence.  It was at least an hour before the police man came out and said that Tyler was in critical condition.

 

Finally the ER doc came out and told us that Tyler was on a ventilator and he was in very serious condition.  He said that they would be taking him up to the ICU.  At that point, I thought that I was going to vomit.

 

The doctor said we could go back and see Tyler. When I walked into the room, I just started bawling.  It is not a sight any parent wants to see.  I remember seeing tubes and machines everywhere.  I held his hand and just cried.  I kept telling myself that I had to be strong, but I truly questioned if I had it in me.

Fr. Shane came into the ER room.  He blessed Tyler and asked God to take away the demons.  He told Ty that Jesus forgave him for every sin he had ever committed.  He blessed him as did I.  Fr. Mario and Fr. Marc also came up and blessed Ty. We love all three of them and are so grateful for their friendships!

 

We were then taken to the ICU waiting room where we took over the room.  Many friends and family came up to sit and pass the time with us.  We were so grateful for all of their support and also thankful that they did not judge us.  Out of all of this, we learned never to judge.  As parents, we all do our very best.  And as I often tell my children, they did not come with instructions.

 

We finally were allowed to go see Tyler in his IUC room around 11 – 11:30 that morning.  My mom had asked if she could take pictures of what Tyler looked like.  At the time, I wasn’t sure that was such a good idea.  But, today I am so grateful she did.  When I see this image it still takes my breath away.  It was also good for Tyler to see what he looked like.  Ty tells me that he often looks at it to remind him of where he was and how far he has come.

 

Tyler kept opening his eyes and I could tell in his eyes that he felt badly.  I know he did not want me or anyone else to see him that way.  I know he did not ever mean to hurt any of us.  I kept telling him that I was “ok”.  In our family we often squeeze someone’s hand three times to tell them we love them.  Often throughout that first day, Tyler would squeeze my hand three times.  I later found out that he did not remember any of that day, it was then that I realized it was God letting me know through Tyler that he loved us all.  I truly believe that God was sending me a sign through the squeezes that Ty was going to be ok.

 

Dan and I left that night around 10:00.  We were exhausted mentally, emotionally and physically.  We were having second thoughts as to if we should stay with Tyler.  The overnight nurse, Rose, told me that “tonight – he is my son”.  Those words meant more to us than I will ever be able to explain.  They were truly amazing.

The next morning Tyler got off the vent around 8:00 am, he was on it for 24 hours.  He woke up pretty darn quickly.  He was in rare form from the all the legal and illegal drugs.  My Mom had to keep reminding him to keep it clean – many of the words coming out of his mouth were naughty.  We spent most of the day telling the past few days over and over to Tyler.  He didn’t remember anything.  As a matter of fact, he wondered if he had gotten in a car wreck.   He told his dad that he will always be his hero for saving his life!

Tyler was in the hospital for three days.  He ended up getting pneumonia too. The day Ty was to be released from the hospital, Deb and I were at home trying to figure how to get him help.  Unfortunately, the social worker at the hospital was of no help.  We were trying to find the best “bargain” in rehabs!  Dan had said that we needed Tyler out of the state and he needed to be in treatment for longer than 30 days.  I thank God for Dan… he was the tough one of the two of us.  He knew Tyler had to be away from here for a long time.  We needed to have normalcy in Jared and Shayla’s lives.

 

We sent to Tyler to Fort Collins, Colorado on July 17.  Again, our family and friends reached out to him via cards, letters and one dear friend drove all the way out to see him for a few minutes and then came back.  No one was giving up on him.  We knew that deep down, Ty had a heart of gold and was capable of persevering!

After 4 ½ months, he graduated from rehab on Thanksgiving Day, he then went to a ½ way house in Albuquerque, New Mexico.   He had a job, and he did not have a car so he had to take the city bus to and from.  Tyler said it was very humbling traveling on the bus.  He lived there for a year before we felt he was in a good enough place to come home.

Thanksgiving 2013 – Tyler came home.  We were worried about trusting him again.  We knew he had come a long way, but were very concerned if he could live here without getting back into the same old habits.  We had many mixed emotions.  A dear friend told me that it takes time to trust and to be a family again…. Boy was she right.  We truly took one day at a time.  Tyler was home a couple of weeks when   friend got him a job.  We are so proud to say that Ty has been with Werner for 2 years now.  The longest he has ever held a job!

We are so thankful for his beautiful girlfriend, Lauran.  She and Tyler are a wonderful couple and she has been so good to him.  We love her as if she were our own daughter.  Thank you Lauran!

A couple of side notes:

Tyler is always telling us that it was not our fault, it was nothing we did, HE made the choices.  Believe me, as parents, we want to question everything we have ever done as a parents.  Dan and I love our children more than they will ever know.  We have and will continue to do our best to raise them.  We have given them the tools and they have to choose how to use them.

I have often told people that a parent is as happy as their saddest child.  Three years ago, we were very sad.  Today, we are so grateful and happy for what we have as a family.  We thank God every day for being by our side through this journey called life.  When Tyler was unresponsive in his bed that July 11, morning, Dan kept telling him he has a story to tell.  Three years later, we are extremely grateful that we can share our story.  The story is not over, and we know things can change on a dime, but today it is a good day.  Tyler told me this morning that there were 30 kids that graduated with him from his rehab program, of the 30, ten have lost the battle to addiction. We are glad that we can give hope to anyone who might be struggling with addiction.  No family is immune to some form of addiction.  We thank our family, friends, all of St. Robert’s and God especially for supporting us in our darkest days.

Jordan & Karen Stevens

Macy’s Miracle