‘One year ago, my world was destroyed. EVERYTHING is different. The only thing the same is my love for him.’: Woman loses love of her life to heroin addiction, says he was ‘so much more’ than an addict

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“When Michael was still physically here on this earth, ‘I love you more’ meant a lot of things. It meant I loved him more than tacos, which is why I always let him have ‘bites’ of mine. It meant I loved him more than to decide the relationship would never work out because of certain family dynamics.

Courtesy Erica Rafikian

It meant I loved him more than getting a full night’s sleep because sometimes he needed me to stay up with him and help him breathe through anxiety attacks. It meant I loved him more than to walk away from our relationship because of his temper. It meant I loved him more than to let people try to get between us. It meant I loved him more than to doubt him, but instead always give him the benefit of the doubt.

Courtesy Erica Rafikian

It meant I loved him more than to let people tell me he wasn’t good enough for me, but instead stood up for him and our relationship. It meant I loved him more than having the last slice of pizza, which I always let him have. It meant I loved him more than to choose sleeping alone in a queen size bed oversleeping with him in a twin-size bed. It meant I loved him more than to be angry at him at times where I should have been, but instead chose to laugh together over whatever stupidity he had done. It meant I loved him more than to ever enable him. It meant I loved him more than to just let him slide with everything.

Courtesy Erica Rafikian

It meant I loved him more than to not push him to better himself. It meant I loved him more than to not tell him, bluntly, what he needed to hear. It meant I loved him more than to ever throw his Mets hat out of the car window, as I threatened to do so many times that he annoyed me. It meant I loved him more than to ever go to sleep angry at him. It meant I loved him more than to not hold his hand any second I got. It meant I loved him more than to not appreciate the sweet smiles he would sometimes make as he slept. It meant I loved him more than to not recognize the ginormous heart he had, the KIND, golden heart he had. It meant I loved more than to be blind to the fact that despite his vices, he still was beyond perfect for me.

Courtesy Erica Rafikian

It meant I loved him more than to judge him for his addiction. It meant I loved him more than to not accept him for everything he was, good and bad. It meant I loved him more than to ever choose anyone but him. It meant I loved him more than to ever give up on him.

Courtesy Erica Rafikian

Now that he’s gone, ‘I love you more’ means so many different things. It means I love him more than to let my grief entirely devour me. It means I love him more than to let my sadness swallow me whole. It means I love him more than to never smile again. It means I love him more than to allow the efforts of other people to invalidate or make our relationship seem irrelevant or meaningless out of their own personal jealousy, ever hold any validity in my life. It means I love him more than to allow the guilt I feel over his death to consume me. It means I love him more than to shut love out for the rest of my life. It means I love him more than to live my life in fear.

Courtesy Erica Rafikian

It means I love him more than to not make sure I spend time with his grandmother, his favorite person in the world. It means I love him more than to skip songs on the radio that remind me of him or meant something to us, but instead sing along to. It means I love him more than to lie about the occasional anger I feel towards him for leaving me alone in this world, only to quickly remember he did not leave me by choice. It means I love him more than to hold grudges, because I now know that life is too short. It means I love him more than to not understand that he was taken from me by a powerful illness. It means I love him more than to only cry when I think of him, but rather smile and be thankful for the amazing memories he left me with over the last 12 years, but especially over the last 4 months of his life.

Courtesy Erica Rafikian

It means I love him more than to avoid certain places or certain foods that hold memories of him. It means I love him more than to let the opinions of other people regarding my sharing his story stop me from doing so. It means I love him more than to chase the people I have lost since his passing, people who either could not handle my grief or my decisions moving forward. It means I love him more than to not do my best to fulfill some of his dreams, like writing his book or traveling to places he dreamed of going. It means I love him more than to be handicapped by my broken heart, because I know he would be disappointed to see me that way. It means I love him more than to be impatient with myself. It means I love him more than to not allow myself to feel the pain I feel every second of the day, realizing that this is ok for me to feel. I love him more than to be ashamed to ask for help. It means I love him more than to hide behind lies when asked how my fiancé passed away. It means I love him more than to let his memory fade. It means I love him more than to never speak his name, but instead make sure I speak of him every single day. It means I love him more than to let people forget him. It means I love him more than to allow him to only be remembered as an addict, because he was so much more.

Courtesy Erica Rafikian

It means I love him more than to deny his battle with addiction. It means I love him more than to be ashamed. It means I love him more than to be silent about this disease. It means I love him more than to not keep putting one foot in front of the other, even on my weakest days, and continue to walk in the light of his love, allowing him to guide me to do whatever it takes to make sure his death was not in vain. It means I love him more than to not fight back against this demon, in any and every way I can.

One year ago, today, my entire world was destroyed. EVERYTHING is different, nothing looks the same or feels the same without him. The only thing that has remained the same is my love for him.

Michael… You were ‘my why’ then and you are ‘my why’ now. You used to call me your angel, and now you are mine. I know you’re ok. I know you are here. Keep flying high my baby.

I love you and I love you more.”

Courtesy Erica Rafikian

In Loving Memory of SMY. 11/8/89-8/25/18

Courtesy Erica Rafikian

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Erica R, 31, of Long Island, New York. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more stories like this:

‘He got involved with women who resembled his mother. He was in a dark place. What he found, was heroin.’: Woman loses the love of her life to addiction, urges he was ‘not just some junkie’

‘I’m not an addict, but I was addicted to trying to fix one. If you’re lucky, they recover. If you’re really lucky, you recover, too.’: Woman learns firsthand that loving one with addiction will ‘consume you’

‘To the girl in love with an addict, his failures are not your failures. His demons are not your demons.’: Mom comes to terms with husband’s addiction, advises addict spouses to ‘hang in there’

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