Fear, Tears, Turn to Joy As Father Finds Solace For Son
Before dropping off his son Andrew at Guiding Light, Bob pressed one of his business cards into his son’s hand.
Andrew examined the card, noticing how the front of it contained his father’s name and title and contact information.
But it was the message on the card’s reverse that turned him silent, and then made him begin to weep: “PLEASE CONTACT TO ARRANGE FOR A PROPER BURIAL”
An uninformed person might blame Bob for excessive drama. But this was a father who had already done virtually everything in his power to save his boy from the ravages of addiction and abuse. He wasn’t convinced that even Guiding Light could work a miracle. So he’d provided instructions to whomever might find his son’s body.
“I really believe that if he hadn’t gone to Guiding Light, he wouldn’t be alive today,” says Bob.
You won’t find any argument from Andrew, who in a stunning turnaround, now works full-time as intake manager at the place his father dropped him off just one year ago.
into an upper-middle class family, Andrew grew up in the Muskegon area, the youngest of three, and now 31 years old. His parents divorced when he was in the 6th grade. By the time he was attending Muskegon Mona Shores High School, he was drinking alcohol regularly. “My senior year, there were maybe only two days I did not drink. Back then, I didn’t think that was too much out of the ordinary.”
While attending Muskegon Community College, he received the prescription drug Norco for a surgery on his nose, and that escalated into an addiction. Despite his usage, Andrew earned good grades, and arranged to transfer to Western Michigan University, but with his father’s insistence that in exchange for tuition money, Andrew sign an agreement he would stop using drugs and submit to spontaneous drug-testing.
It didn’t take. “If I wasn’t at class, we were out drinking,” he remembers, and he reverted back to Norco, as well as other prescriptive drugs. He also fell into a toxic relationship with a woman who reportedly abused alcohol. Things began to escalate when Andrew began using a variety of substances.
He was just scant credits shy of graduating when he secured a sales job in southwest Michigan from a firm where he’d been interning his senior year at WMU. But nearly every night after work, he drank a fifth of booze, and took pills on top of that.
“I was living in pitiful conditions,” Andrew says. “My apartment was a complete mess. I didn’t look like somebody who had a job or was a productive member of society.
He spiraled out of control, with his father supporting efforts at one rehab facility after the other. After several years of unsuccessful results, Bob remembers that “I finally drew a line in the sand and said, ‘You need to do this on your own,’ and I quit financially supporting him.”
On a Friday afternoon in January of 2018, Bob picked Andrew up from yet another facility, treated himself and his son to a steak dinner, then drove to Guiding Light.
He considered his son in that moment – some 80 pounds heavier than he should be, strung out after years of abuse, and now entering another program that, to him at least, offered no more hope than other facilities where Andrew had undergone treatment.
It’s with that mindset that Bob had typed the words offering to bury his only boy, and laminated the chilling instructions to his business card.
“I was pretty apprehensive at first,” Andrew recalls. “I couldn’t understand how a free program could offer a decent level of care.” With only one weekend under his belt, Andrew wanted to bail and managed to call his father to come get him.
Bob admits being angry: “I told him he wasn’t welcome at my house or his mother’s house or his girlfriend’s. I told him his only option was to find an alley. Because he was now homeless.”
Andrew stuck it out, and Bob has nothing but praise for a program he claims saved his son’s life: “Everything about Guiding Light has been life-changing and life-saving,” he says. “The old Andrew is back – he’s humble, he’s intelligent, and he’s thinking again.”
Andrew has been serving Guiding Light as its intake manage since July 2018, and is considering forsaking a life of sales to work full-time with people in recovery.
In the meantime, he still carries that business card in his wallet.
“It’s a reminder,” he says, “of who and where I was before I got here.”
THIS MEANS THAT ANYONE WHO BELONGS TO CHRIST HAS BECOME A NEW PERSON. THE OLD LIFE IS GONE; A NEW LIFE HAS BEGUN!
2 CORINTHIANS 5:17