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Let me just start this letter out by saying thank you. Thank you for changing my outlook on addiction and knowing what it can do to a family-what it can do to my best friend in particular. Growing up, I didn’t know what addiction was. Life was nothing but sunshine and happiness, and if you told me that in ten years, we would have lost you to such an evil drug, I would have told you that you were crazy. Never in a million years would that happen. But it did. And it hit home for someone who has been an extremely important person in my life. Before I knew about the demons you were facing day in and day out, I thought people who were addicted to drugs had no one to blame but themselves. I was apathetic, and frankly cold towards those who were using. I didn’t think about those involved. I didn’t think of the pain that families go through every second when a loved one is addicted to heroin. Although it was under harrowing circumstances, you have educated me, and made me a better person.
You probably don’t remember me. In fact, I think I only met you once or twice when your sister and I were having one of our famous, grade school sleepovers. You know the ones. The ones where we would stuff ourselves with a sheet pizza, grape soda and Reese cups. Prank calling people and playing Rock Band until 4 o’clock in the morning. Your poor mother probably hated us. Though you may not remember me, you and I have one thing in common: Meisha. She is your sister by blood, and for that, I am envious of you. Her and I are not blood sisters, but she is my sister. Sister of the soul, and sister of the heart.
I remember the summer of 2017, there was a concert that I was supposed to go to with your sister. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it because of work. I am kicking myself for not going, because you were there. I would have seen you, and I would have asked how life was treating you and we would have talked about the Bills and how this was going to be the year we were going to the Super Bowl. Sorry it hasn’t happened yet, but we are getting there. It is not a coincidence that the year you left us, was the year we ended the playoff drought. I like to think you had something to do with that. Your sister called me and cried. She said: “It was Joey.” I think it was too.
The concert you attended with your sister was a great time. You wore a Rick and Morty t-shirt and a blue hat. There was a picture hanging up next to your casket from that day, at that concert, with that same shirt and blue hat. It’s strange isn’t it? How you were there one second and gone the next. The picture next to your open casket that everyone looked at and cried over seemed like it was just taken yesterday.
She told me so many times. Last I heard you were doing better, and I never thought it would happen to you. It couldn’t have. Not to my best friends’ brother. But it did.
I'll never forget when your sister called me. “Coll, my brother died last night.” No, it couldn’t be. Not now. God, just give him one more chance to get better. One last time to get it right.
I want you to know something. I want you to know that I will always be there for your sister. When the pain gets too hard to bear, and she wants to give up, I will not let her. I will wipe away every tear, laugh at every joke, and smile at every story. I will stand by her side as she pursues her dreams. I will answer every phone call. I always will be there.
I will take care of your nieces as if they were my own. I will make sure that they are spoiled and always get everything they want. Though you are not here to watch them grow, they will always know that you are with them. They will always know who you are and how precious they are to you. They will never question their worth. They will never wonder if they’re enough. They won’t be afraid to get a few scrapes on their knees, and they will never be afraid to stand up for themselves.
Joey, please know that no one blames you, and no one hates you. Let’s be honest, we live in a generation of troubled and perturbed young kids. Where it is easier to get heroin than it is to get a college degree. It is not your fault, and we understand. We just wish we could have helped you.
Please know that your family will never be alone, for you are always with them.
Thank you for teaching to us to make each day count, because no one knows when it will end.
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference
In Loving Memory of Joseph M. Vitello
07/10/1988 - 12/21/2017