Four years ago, on November 20, 2019, my beloved 19-year-old son, Johnny, took his life. As many of you know, he had become psychotic from dabbing high-THC wax. We couldn’t find help or anyone who understood what was happening. So, after he died, we started a nonprofit, Johnny’s Ambassadors Youth Marijuana Prevention, to educate teens and parents about the harms of today’s high-potency THC products and what it does to young minds. Johnny was given to me for a finite amount of time, so our mission to save others could begin.
Over the years, my grief has changed somewhat. I’ve almost forgotten the feeling of Johnny’s arms around me in a hug. I rarely dream of him. His scent is gone from his clothes. I no longer cry every day. I always wonder what he would have thought about whatever activity I’m engaged in. I still go through “what if” scenarios, hundreds of them, years later. There’s always a slight emptiness in my heart I don’t believe will ever be filled. In my inner silence of everyday events, while loved ones are laughing and talking, I picture him there. Somedays it’s hard to be truly happy.
Without my work at Johnny’s Ambassadors, I don’t know if I’d be able to stand the sadness of it all. We have literally talked to hundreds of thousands of teens about what happened to Johnny. I know we’ve saved countless lives, and it keeps me going.
When I stand in the gym or auditorium in front of hundreds or thousands of teens at a school, I see on their sweet faces the same hopes, dreams, and goals that Johnny used to have. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to share his warning with them, “Marijuana ruined my mind and my life.” ALL young people need to understand there is NO safe level of THC in the developing mind. We need your support to continue to provide teens with this important prevention message.
When students come up to me following a presentation, many of them give me a hug. Many tell me they are sorry about Johnny and thank me for sharing. Others confess they have a problem and are going to get help. Still others tell me Johnny would be proud of me. Hearing these sweet words from these precious children, I know it was meant to be this way. I believe they are listening.
My husband John is my rock and partner in our mission. My two amazing (surviving) adult children are my greatest joy. My new grandson is my hope that everything will be okay. Yet, I miss Johnny every day. I always have a twinge of failure. I know it’s not my fault, and I did everything I knew how to do at the time. But no matter how good of a mother I tried to be, I couldn’t save him. But I believe with all my heart if I knew then what I know now, I COULD have saved him. With over 1,000 parents in our private Parents of Children with Cannabis-Induced Psychosis (POCCIP), I know we are saving others. We must equip all parents with this knowledge, and we need your help to keep going.
In a school paper he wrote just a few months before he died, Johnny said I was his role model of the value of conviction. I have tried to live up to his image of me. I will continue to forge ahead despite the pain and try to give some meaning to my loss. I promise you I will fight to save the lives of our children with every bit of strength I have left in my days.
Thank you all so much for the support you have personally given me over these four years. I am truly grateful to all of you for joining our mission to educate parents, teens, and communities about the dangers of today’s high-THC marijuana products on adolescent brain development, psychosis, and suicide. Your love keeps me going, and I’m so grateful for your friendship.
If you can help, please donate to Johnny’s Angelversary fund starting today through #GivingTuesday at https://p2p.onecause.com/johnnystack. Thank you for helping us save the lives of our youth from the harms of THC.