The Beginning
Jonathan, my youngest child of three, was 16 years old the summer of 2007.  He had just finished his sophomore year of high school, had a girlfriend he adored, was looking forward to swimming, six flags, time with family and cousins, and all things teens do on summer vacation.  We went to the high school graduation that year so he could get an idea of all of the scholarships that might be available for him.  He really wanted to study psychology after he graduated because he was fascinated by how the mind works; then he fully intended to open a bar/grill on the beach.  He loved the beach.  We went to the beach several times on family vacations and it was always hard to pull him away.  He didn't like Missouri winters, unless snow was on the ground of course!  Jonathan brought a lot of laughter and comedy to our family and to his friends.

That summer of 2007, I was in the Army Reserves.  I had just joined the year before on the buddy system with my 22 year old daughter, Suzanne, my oldest child.  Well, it was supposed to be the buddy system, but after I left for basic training she ended up joining the local Army National Guard Unit.  I still tease Suzanne to this day for standing me up!  At that time I was a high school special education teacher so I was allowed to complete basic training during the summer of 2006, return home to teach during the school year, then go back to Fort Jackson, South Carolina to complete training as a chaplain's assistant during the summer of 2007.

     That's how I left Jonathan. Looking forward to summer and to the rest of his life.

I called home every evening to check on things and to chat with Jonathan, his older brother, Charles, who was 19 at the time, and my husband, Dan.  For the first couple of weeks things seemed normal.  Summer was in full swing and I was really wishing I was home to enjoy it.

Then my conversations with Jonathan took a troubling twist.  His girlfriend broke up with him and he was crushed.  He tried to date other girls, but they just weren't her.  After a few weeks he seemed better, not happy, but ok.  In the meantime, she started dating someone else.  Then the phone calls started.  Jonathan received several from her confiding to him that this new boyfriend was hurting her and raping her.  I doubted that this was really happening and tried to convince him that it didn't make sense, but Jonathan believed every word.  He was so distraught he didn't know what to do.

Later, I found out he turned to the OTC drug Coricidin, called Triple C on the street.  While under the influence of high doses of this drug, which can last as long as six hours, abusers risk injuring themselves and others because of the effects on visual perception and cognitive processes.  It also produces dissociative effects.

On the evening of Tuesday, July 10, I was lying in my bunk reflecting on the past several weeks of training and really looking forward to going home in a few days when the shrill ring of my phone shattered the stillness. When I said hello all I heard was Suzanne crying hysterically and trying her best to form words.  My stomach clenched, my heart started pounding, and I broke out in a cold sweat because something was very wrong at home.

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