Six-year-old Kayden Blaker drew angels for a month after his father died of an overdose of heroin and fentanyl in December 2017.
“He’s in counseling,” said his mother, Cassandra. “It was really tough at first. He would say, ‘Mom, I wish I could just go and bring him back’ or ‘I can’t wait until I die to go meet Daddy.’ He cries every night and he has to hold his Daddy’s shirt closely.”
When family and friends of Kayden’s father, Chris, gathered on his 33rd birthday on March 31, Kayden, born on March 7, chose to celebrate his birthday too.
“He said, ‘Mom, this is going to be the first year Daddy is not going to give me a present and Daddy is not going to say happy birthday to me,” Cassandra said. “This whole year is going to be hard.”
Toxicology results showed Chris overdosed on heroin and fentanyl, but Cassandra said Vicodin, Klonopin and methamphetamines were also found in his system.
Chris graduated from Bishop O’Reilly High School in 2003 and had struggled with drug addiction since he was 18, Cassandra said.
“He started with weed,” she said. “He had a lot of depression and anxiety. He had emotional problems too. I think it just started out that he was self-diagnosing himself. Once he tried different things, he just liked the feeling of it and he couldn’t stop.”
Chris attended Luzerne County Community College for a semester and he worked for Plymouth Borough for about two years doing street cleaning and other jobs. He worked at the Lord & Taylor warehouse for about two months, Cassandra said.
Chris had survived previous overdoses when he was administered Naloxone, attended psychological counseling and went through drug rehabilitation, but struggled to keep a job, said Cassandra, who married Chris in 2012.
“He would be good for like a year and then he would hang out with the wrong friends again,” Cassandra said.
“They need to be in rehab more than 28 days,” she said. “Twenty-eight days is nothing.”
Chris did several stints in jail for crimes like disorderly conduct and retail theft, the longest lasting three months.
Cassandra said he would steal her credit cards and jewelry and their son’s games to buy drugs.
“He would come home either drunk or high,” she said. “He would be irate.”
Finally, Cassandra told him if she did not get help, she and her son would have to walk away. She also told him she would go to support group meetings with him.
He would go to meetings for about a month and then go back to using drugs, she said.
“He just couldn’t get away from it,” she said. “I asked, “Doesn’t it feel good that you’re not high?’ And he said, ‘Your life is boring being sober.’”
By 2016, after Kayden found a heroin needle under a bed, Cassandra had enough.
“I walked away. I said I can’t do this no more,” she said. “He was out all night. I had nothing. He was stealing all this stuff and money. We would go to a family function and he would steal out of their purses.”
Cassandra said it was not only embarrassing, but it got to the point where she felt her son was in danger.
When he was not using drugs, she said, Chris was a great father and her best friend.
When he was younger, Chris was involved in sports and liked the outdoors. He also played the drums and guitar and was in two bands.
During an interview at a Kingston home, Cassandra and her son wore matching shirts they had made in his memory that read, “Your wings were ready but our hearts were not.”
They showed a photo of Chris and Kayden on a hayride.
“He was a great father and a great best friend. He just couldn’t kick the addiction. If he stopped the addiction, I’d still be with him,” she said. “I miss him every day. If he could have just stopped, we would still have our family.”
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