The Last Heartbeat

August 2018 244

On August 29th, I sat at my son’s bedside and looked at his sweet face remembering the child he once was; imagining his laughter and smile that would fill and light up the room. I remembered the big hugs he gave. I watched as the machine moved his chest up and down rhythmically and sweet, lulling me back to the memories of the days when he would run through the house with excitement over just about anything. I remembered the time, just a month earlier, when he was drug free and we spent the day together hiking and he said with so much joy, “I’m on top of the world, Momma”. I remembered the loving way he looked at me. I remembered the young man who would drop anything to help someone; the young man who held the door open for his mother; who sat at the bedside of his friend in the hospital when others turned their backs; who carried his friend up fifteen stairs to take a shower because he couldn’t walk; who encouraged others and lifted their spirits on a bad day; the son who called me to ask me to pray with him for a friend who didn’t know Christ. I remembered the tender, loving heart underneath that big laugh. I remembered the son who hated to see me cry and hated more when he was the reason I cried. So, I held back the tears, and I thanked God for this beautiful child. I thanked God for this beautiful hand that I held.

I held my son’s hand that night for the last time. I watched as his heartbeat grew weaker and weaker. Surprisingly, that wasn’t the hard part. No, the hard part was the last four years watching a disease consume my child; watching a drug turn my son into a machine that functioned only to replace the drug that was keeping it running; watching him so desperately try to fight it on his own; try to save his family the pain it caused; watching him die inside over the shame- the shame people heaped on him.

As I watched the last heartbeat, I let go of the pain that he suffered. I let go of the pain that I had suffered watching the drug take over my son’s life. I let go of the pain of watching him cry over an illness that he couldn’t control. I let go of the memories of watching him desperately fight a battle that he didn’t yet have the tools to win.  I let go of a child that never knew his worth. Yet I mourned. I mourned silently deep inside for the time he would no longer have to find a way to keep fighting to live; the time that was taken away from that one lethal dose. That one lethal dose that his addiction made him need more than anything else at that moment.

As I watched his heartbeat slowly fade, I let go of the pain and thanked God for the gift of the twenty short years I had with him. I thanked God for the gift of life that my son, through organ donation, was giving to others, as his last gesture of love, with the passing of that last heartbeat.

With that last heartbeat, I vowed to be the voice that he wanted to be; to be the voice he could no longer be; the voice that would carry his story on, as part of this fight….this fight to end the stigma……this fight to end the “opidemic”.

Parker Alan Gill

You are missed. You are loved.

Your life had a purpose.

God is using your story.

The drugs did not win!

You are free. You are home.

August 2018 256

28 thoughts on “The Last Heartbeat

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I am sorry for your loss. I pray my son is able over come the hold this demon has on him. I really don’t think I could bare losing him.

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    • You’re so welcome! I’m so sorry your son is battling also. I give God all the credit for me being able to deal with this with so much peace. Romans 8:28-29. It’s hard to imagine anything good about losing your child but God has brought good and I know He will use Parker’s story for good and His glory. I continually go to Him whenever I begin to feel I can’t handle it. Psalm 121:1-2. That’s what helped me throughout his struggles too. I will pray for you and your son tonight. Thank you for your comment!!

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  2. Thank you for sharing your story. I am sorry for your loss. I pray my son is able over come the hold this demon has on him. I really don’t think I could bare losing him.

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  3. This was beautiful… it ment more to me than you know. I knew Parker pretty well. I loved him so much, we got pretty close in the short amount of time we knew eAchother . He was beautiful, and hilarious , full of life, curious, wonderful, intelligent, but like me, he battled the demon we call heroin .we met at the palms. And it is the worst and hardest thing anyone could ever imagine . 2 days after his death I checked myself into a diff treatment and I’ve been here for 3 months . And I he was my motivation. I have been to 7 treatments but Parker’s death hit me harder than anything. I am doing this for me, but I’m doing it for him. I’m fighting for the both of us. I loved that boy so much. And I thank god everything for putting him
    In my life . And allowing me to fight this for him. God bless and protect you.

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    • Oh Ariel, thank you for this! Yes, he was all those things! On his worst days, he was always so loving to me. A beautiful soul! And I’m so so happy that you went back. Keep fighting!! Know you are loved! And I know he would be so happy you are still fighting!! I’m out here fighting for you in prayer Ariel! I mean that too. I have a list and you are now added to it!! Thank you again!! 💕

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  4. Always a friend or lover, never a foe! I have sobriety and find serenity at my secret fishing hole…
    For today i need no drink nor drug, when all seems gone i need nothing but a hug!
    Its my faught, i am sure! God will forgive me if my heart is pure….
    When problems are big and my brain array, there is no delay, i hit my knees and pray…
    When sad and lonely i hold on to God at all cost, with him at my side i will never be lost!!!!
    CHUCK BROTHERS

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  5. Beautiful, just like Parker was. I met him in Rayville, fighting a similar battle. You are right, his life had SO MUCH purpose. There are some of us who fight that much harder every day because of Parker. God bless you and be with you. Thank you for the beautiful tribute.

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    • Thank you Courtney!! Yes, his life had so much purpose and now so does his death. It makes me so happy to hear you say there are those that fight harder because of him. I just know he would live that and want that. He loved and cared about people that he met everywhere he went. Keep fighting. I wanted this to spark conversation, to touch hearts and to let people know the struggles and pain that this disease causes. I love and have such great respect for each day that you and others fight. You are not alone. God loves you and so do I! Thank you so much for the comment!! God bless you as well!!

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  6. Parker and I bonded at the Palms both being from small town neighbors he was the last person I said goodbye to as he held the door for me when I left after my 90 days. He made me laugh during a time I thought all laughter had died. I will continue to fight this disease with everything I have in memory of him. What a wonderful tribute.

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  7. Parker made more of an impact on my life in the six months I had the PRIVILEGE to know him than most people have my whole life. Will always love ND miss him.🙏❤️

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  8. Thank you for sharing- Losing a child is a heartache only another mother understands- My prayers are with you. It did my heart good as I remembered holding my G.B’s hand the night he passed. Pat Galloway

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  9. Paula, such a wonderful tribute to your son. Your sharing his ( and your) story will help many more than you will ever know this side of heaven. Thank you. May our God heap blessings on you and your family. Love you all.

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  10. Parker and my son, Hunter, were friends from school at Arkansas Baptist. After Parker changed schools we would run into him from time to time and the last time I remember seeing Parker was at David’s Burgers. I was with Hunter and I remember Parker’s big beautiful smile and the glimmer in his eyes!
    Paula, I am so extremely sorry for your loss. Sending you so much love…

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  11. I don’t know Paula very well, she was a little older than I was when I lived in McGehee but I know ALL TOO WELL the pain addiction causes a family. A lot of times mental illness is masked by addiction. My baby sister was schitzophrenic but was also an addict. I pray daily for anyone who has to endure the pain of watching their loved one suffer & slowly die. My sister took her own life but in the end we can say she BEAT that evil disease because she is in the presence of God. Just like Parker. I am praying for your family.

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