Contributed Photo/Courtesy Jason and Maria Kouts: Shortly after Josiah Kouts’ death, the man who sold him the fatal dose of heroin asked to meet with Josiah’s mother, Maria Kouts.
As told by his mother, Maria Kouts
Editor’s note: This is the third part of our weeklong series delving into the tragic death of Josiah Kouts, 25, from a heroin overdose and what is being done in the aftermath. This is the third of a three-part series written by Maria Kouts. In this section, Maria describes meeting the man who sold her son the fatal dose of heroin.
By Maria Kouts
“I was contacted by one of my close friends. He stated that the young man who sold Josiah the fatal dose of heroin was having a hard time. He was riddled with guilt and was willing to talk and tell me everything.
This young man needed me? Are you kidding me? My first thought was ‘how could he ask this of me right now?’
But soon after, I knew he needed to do this to be set free from it. I agreed.
I had severe anxiety all night and felt a bit terrified. When you become a mom you protect and fight for and against anything that can hurt your child. My child is now dead and the man who gave him the fatal dose of poison needed me to help him. I prayed all night and all morning. The time came and I stood in a room at the church, seemingly paralyzed by fear and anxiety.
I heard the mom walk in and speak to the pastor and he directed them to meet me. She saw me first and wrapped her arms around me and said how sorry she was. I let go of her and went to him.
His body was warm, the very first feeling I had – this young man had a heartbeat, his body was warm.
My perspective immediately changed from my hurting heart to this war, young man riddled with pain. I could have held him all day. He still had a life. There was still hope. A surge of empathy coursed through me. I understood that this was a mistake. I understood that this could be my son sitting here. I understood that he had the monkey on his back and hadn’t broken loose. In that moment, all I could feel was sorrow for his heart; his broken life; his awareness that he had given his friend a lethal dose of heroin.
I no longer had one single feeling of hurt for myself. I didn’t have unforgiveness. I didn’t have hate. I want to help this young man live. I want him to turn this tragedy into something that has meaning and purpose.
Through my shattered heart, there was that anchor. The word I have hidden in my heart was pouring out of my soul and longing that this word lift this young life out of the grips of hell.
He asked me what he could do to make it right; go to prison, overdose himself, he said ‘anything, tell me and I will do it.’
I told him to fight for his life, beat his addiction and then come help fight for others who are being tormented.
I have to hold on now to the belief that somehow he heard with his heart. I have to believe that he is going to get the help he needs, and by the time he comes back to Safford there will be a group of people who can identify with where he had been and can hold him accountable until he gets strong enough to help others.
My heart hurts now for my youngest son, Austin. He is bitter and filled with rage. He is hurt with me for meeting with this young man. He says he is a P.O.S.
I know this is all a process. I don’t feel like I have all the answers. All I know is that I want no more death, no more families being ripped to shreds by heroin or any drug – no more brothers who have to somehow navigate through the pointless pain of losing their sibling and living in a small community and knowing who gave their brother the drug and feeling like they are responsible and wanting to take a life for a life.
Drugs affect every single part of a family. The statistics of families staying together through drug addiction are staggeringly low.
Broken families, broken lives, shattered hearts, we can’t sit by and do nothing. We have to use this tragedy and help others! We can’t continue to sweep it under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist.
Is there a stigma to families torn by drugs? Yes! Should it stop us from helping? No! Should I take my pain and exact punishment, or should I use it to help people just like my son?
Will my son ever forgive me? Will this tear my family apart even more?
Nothing about this is easy. It is, in fact, very painful.”
Part 4 “Reflections of a father” will be posted Thursday.
To view the other articles in this series, click on the corresponding link.