Thursday, November 27, 2008

This Thanksgiving Day

Just as I was thinking of my sweet boy this morning, and wishing he were here for one of his favorite holidays, I get this email sent to me. It is wonderous how these things work, but then, as we all know, Brett was always a wonder. He could always amaze, amuse, and bring out major adoration in me. I adore him still. As the saying goes to those who knew him no explanation is necessary, and to those who didn't no explanation is possible. No words could possibly express the sheer sweetness and love that was Brett.


1.Thank you for giving me life, for making my favorite foods, for washing my clothes and doing your best to be sure I was safe. Although I no longer need you to do these things, the love behind the actions lighted my way to the other side.

2.Thank you for your prayers and the thoughts you send my way. They lift my spirit (literally) and propel me to the place where only love dwells.

3.Thank you for your anger at the ways I failed, disappointed or betrayed you. I'm closer to you than you think and have heard your words. They remind me that I didn't live up to who I could be and call me to be more kind, honest, loyal and loving from now on.

4.Thank you for forgiving me for all the ways I couldn't love you, others or myself. I may have left you with feelings of being abandoned. Your effort to heal yourself helps to heal entire family line including grandfathers and fathers who have gone before as well as the children and grandchildren who come after.

5.Thank you for calling in the angels. Or, if I left without sharing a few last moments with you, thank you for understanding that my body could no longer hold my spirit which was ready to fly.

6.Thank you for continuing to express my life. Celebrating my accomplishments with scholarships and foundations, telling stories about me (even if not all of them are true) reminds the world that my life had meaning.

7.Thank you for taking care of my stuff, especially if by leaving abruptly there were no instructions to follow. Thank you for tying up the loose ends left dangling when I moved into my new life.

8.Thank you for honoring our love bond - - by wearing the jewelry I've given you, by keeping my photos with or near you, but, most of all, by living your life to the fullest.

9.Thank you for laughing while remembering our good times together. Your laughter creates the music in heaven.

10.Thank you for celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and Thanksgivings and by remembering all the gifts of our life together.

May the thanks of those you love, touch you as you remember them this Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Another beautiful, but sad, quote forwarded to me:

"As God's children, we live on promises, not explanations. When we arrive in heaven, we will hear the explanations, accept them, and say, 'May the Lord be glorified." (Warren Wiersbe).

We, as Brett's family and friends, live every day of the promise of being with Brett again and knowing the true story behind his death. We feel we have the real explanation, due to all that we have learned of this terrible drug. We have accepted this explanation as best we can. I have a deep conviction within my heart that tells me to just believe, not to question what I feel, 100% to be true. When I question what I feel, somewhere, somehow, something will come along to put me in my place, to stop questioning and to just simply BELIEVE my heart. Yesterday I received this:

Pharmacologist and substance misuse researcher Fabrizio Schifano of St George's Medical School in London says that the main problem with psychoactive substances - and hallucinogens like salvia in particular - is that they may incite PSYCHOSIS. "How do you know if someone will have a sensitivity to the drug?" he says. "I am really worried by the prevalence of these drugs, and the fact that most users get their information from the internet. It is not peer-reviewed research, just people's opinions, and that is very dangerous."
Tim Kendall, deputy director of the Royal College of Psychiatrists research unit, says: "When you take salvia you are playing with fire. People can be very damaged in terms of their personal functioning. They frequently have flashbacks that intrude into their life, which can be almost like a post-traumatic stress problem after very bad experiences."
It's still unclear why salvia produces hallucinations. "Some of the experiences people have on salvia may be similar to the psychosis that occurs in late-stage Alzheimer's," says Roth. "There is an increase in the number of kappa receptors in the brains of people with late-stage Alzheimer's."

So, again, validation of what we believe wholeheartedly, Brett suffered severe psychosis within a matter of hours. This psychosis ended with his death. Terrible tragedy....those words don't even begin to describe his loss. There are no words.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

09/09/88 - That's Brett's B'day

Yikes, I wrote in my blog today and said today was Brett's birthday. Of course you know I meant yesterday!!! Could you see the internet meanies getting a hold of that!?!? I'd become the mom who didn't even remember her kid's birthday!

I'm remembering all the wonderful birthdays past, so excuse me while I reminiesce on happier times. If Brett were here we'd talk about all those awesome b'days past like:

-The birthday where I made you the giant racetrack cake and put only 4 cars on the track and 15 kids absolutely, positively had to have the piece with a car!! That cake was certainly incredible, if I do say so myself. Must post a picture of it.

-The birthday where we got out the pogo stick and the kids were amazed that you had a mom who could pogo stick longer than any of them.

-The Chuck E. Cheese parties were we could never get any of the kids back to the table to eat. Alexis freaking out when Chuck E. came to the table!

-The clown who refused to leave you alone at Chi-Chi's. You were ready to get up and walk out. I love the picture I have of you giving him the "stink eye".

-The place with the rubber ball pit where you were convinced "some kid pee'd in there!"

-Your rollerskating, paintballing, McDonald's, bowling parties. Did I miss one?

-The party where every kid "had to bring" his sister/brother/cousin and we ended up with 30 kids running roughshod over the house and yard. That one was the best! You LOVED the presents.

-Your last birthday where I promised you your second trip to England to visit your relatives. I did deliver and that was our last trip together. What number trip did that make, I'm guessing between 55-60? You were one well traveled guy, that's for sure. You were my best travel partner ever, and no trip will ever be the same now you're gone.

I look back fondly on all the wonderful b'day parties I was able to give Brett. They were the best of times and Brett never met a b'day party he didn't love.


Brett's 20th Birthday

Today would have been Brett's 20th birthday. All I could think was how much I would have loved to have seen what he would have looked like at 20. He was so handsome at 17 I can't imagine what 20 would have brought. The whole family visited the grave and put flowers and almost balloons. The balloons somehow escaped out the car window thru a 2 inch opening in the window! No one could figure that one out but everybody said the same thing "That's Brett doing that! That is SO him, laughing his tail off at his balloons taking off even before we got to the cemetary." It was so bittersweet and made me realize, as I do every single day, how much we all miss Brett's off the charts sense of humor. Why can't anyone else be at funny as he was???

And, again, I am forced to defend him in the press. A huge story on Salvia appeared in the NY Times yesterday. I actually spoke to the reporter who wrote the story and provided him with much insight before the actual publication. He got everything right except for the fact, which I thought I had impressed upon him, that when Brett's Law was written Dennis and I specifically asked for a clause to be added allowing for scientific research to be allowed with salvia, especially if there's the slightest chance it could help some disease or disability. Senator Peterson called me yesterday and we discussed this and she said people are so unaware, that even if we hadn't included that clause specifically, laws already on the books allow any drug to be used for research. You DON'T even need to add that stipulation. Wonder why people can't get that? It's really not that hard of a concept to grasp. Of course the salvia users are the ones posting the emails full of outrage about scientific research being stymied. Get real, folks, we are on to you and know that you're not interested in the slightest about helping others, you're too busy getting wasted.

I love the quote someone sent me the other day:

"Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth.

Ephesians 6:14 NLT

The belt of truth

"You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free," says Jesus (John 8:32). But what will the truth set us free from?

First of all, it sets us free from the snares of deception. When people know the truth, they can't be taken in by a lie. You can't convince people to believe in something that they know in their hearts and minds is false.

The truth will also set you free from guilt and shame. When you've held tightly to the truth, you don't have to worry about a lie coming back to haunt you. You don't spend your nights lying awake wondering what words of deception might trap and ensnare you. You are free to live with a clean conscience and an innocent heart."

I had just said to someone the other day "I'm so glad that from Day 1 I told the truth about Brett, the months leading up to his death, the things we found about Salvia, etc. I really believe if you tell the truth you NEVER have to remember what you said." If you check out ALL the many, many, many news reports and articles I've done you will see the details never change. I never have to think about what I said before. It's so easy when you're truthful. So, I guess without knowing it I have put on "the sturdy belt of truth." Brett would love that.

Friday, July 18, 2008

RIP Officer Gary Gryder

One of my friends forwarded this very sad, sad news article to me

Houston cop killer gets mental evaluation

Officer Down: Officer Gary Gryder

By Brian Rogers
The Houston Chronicle

HOUSTON — A man accused of killing one Houston police officer and injuring another in a car wreck will be drug tested and evaluated by mental health professionals to investigate his behavior in the minutes after the incident.

Hung Dasian Truong, 24, will be held for a 21-day mental evaluation, a judge ruled Tuesday. Initial alcohol and drug tests got negative results, but investigators are awaiting the results of a second, more detailed round of blood tests to determine whether Truong was impaired at the time of the incident early Sunday morning.

Truong was taken into custody while laughing uncontrollably and refusing to answer questions, Harris County Assistant District Attorney Denise Bradley said.

According to court records, investigators suspect that Truong may have been under the influence of salvia divinorum.

Salvia is an herb-based hallucinogen used spiritually by Mazatec Indians from the Oaxaca area, and increasingly popular among teens and college-age students, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

In state District Judge Caprice Cosper's court, Bradley recounted the

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Remember this....

It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.

I first heard this quote immediately after Brett's death and it made me realize that we had no choice but to go forward with our campaign against Salvia Divinorum. If we did not do anything what kind of parents would we be? What would our son think if he were here and we did not take up the cause against the thing that took his life? I could not face Brett today if I did not do that which I was accountable for... making his death stand for something. Brett did not die in vain, he led us to discovery of something most of us would never know.

Also, this quote makes me think of Brett and all the volunteer work he did. That has become the main focus of my life since his passing. Before his death he was my main focus, with service and volunteer work being a close second. Today, without his being here, it has become my number one goal. To serve others is to gain peace for myself. Yesterday I wheeled patients around for 3 hours and today I wrote a letter asking for a grant for a woman who has no money to buy the most simple things in life, bread, milk,... What are you accountable for today?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Father's Day

After being bombarded by Father's Day ads, which I mindfully ignore after losing my wonderful dad so many years ago to cancer, I thought of this picture of Brett and his father. This is my favorite picture of Brett and his dad. Those two could NOT have loved each other more. This was taken by one of Dennis' goofball fishing buddies, hence Brett's "not so enthusiastic" smile. I remember him telling me that XXX had taken his picture outside of church on Easter morning and he was none too happy about it. Regardless, I'm glad he did as I look at this picture often and remember all the happy times these two fun loving guys had together.

So I will remember on Father's Day that not only did I lose the most important person in my life but Dennis has as well. We will never be the same, the happy go lucky threesome that we were, all the way until Brett's death.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


I just received an email from a reporter in Washington, DC who informed me that my work in Virginia has paid off and that Salvia will be regulated July 1. She said "Way to go Kathy!!" but I say "Way to go, State of Virginia!!"

Now I wonder when the rest of the country is going to wake up and be as proactive as the states that have learned of Brett's story. More importantly when is the FDA and DEA going to get on the bandwagon and do what they should have long ago? If they had been doing their jobs 2 years ago maybe Brett would still be here today.


Thanks to the hard work of Assemblyman Adams of CA the first Salvia bill, AB259 passed today in Sacramento. (Talk about a strange coincidence - the bill is the EXACT same number as our HB259, "Brett's Law" in DE!) This was a huge undertaking for him as CA is the most liberal state in the country and is much more concerned with the overcrowding of their prison system than putting a law on the books that will protect their young children and teenagers. Regardless he was able to have this bill pass the state Assembly and go on to the Senate. I was very proud to be a part of it and am grateful to him for bringing me out to California to tell the real story of Brett's demise due to Salvia. It was also wonderful to meet Dr. Samuels from Wonderland Treatment Center in LA in person and to see how passionate he is about the threat of this drug to our country. He makes me look tame!

Also, many thanks to Elizabeth, Assemblyman Adam's aide and to all the reporters, way too many to mention, who interviewed me and realized how important this story really is. I also learned, for the first time, that the initial study of Salvia on humans has just been completed and its' findings are that salvia causes depression. No surprise there as I've known that since Brett's death. Even though we didn't see it he obviously had to be suffering from it. It is such a tribute to my son's sheer strength of will that he was able to keep everything together in his last days and no one, not even his girlfriend with whom he was inseparable, knew that he was suffering so badly from his salvia use that he was contemplating taking his own life. Brett really was a warrior, who accomplished every thing he set his mind to, and even though we know he wanted nothing more than to LIVE a happy life together with Lauren, he was no match for this drug.

I really felt his presence as I spoke before the CA Senate. I could almost hear him saying "Go Mom, go!" I knew he was smiling down on me and felt his strength become mine. Brett, you are amazing, in heaven, just as you were on earth. Love you so much sweetie.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Danielle, the heroine!

Danielle, Brett's cousin, one of his closest friends, and the one he confided in about his extensive Salvia use, made her first TV appearance yesterday and told the real story of Brett's life. I wish I could have been there Danielle, but you did a most incredible job. You brought Brett to life for all the thousands of people who watched you so eloquently tell his story. Daniellius, as Brett called you, he would would be SO proud of you!! You faced the 3 idiotic users with such grace and conviction. I could never have been as composed as you. You did the Chidester family proud. We love you and know that Brett is looking down cheering you on for telling what really happened in his last days.

And thank you to Dr. Howard Samuels of Wonderland Treatment Center in LA who finally told the world what I've known since the minute Brett died. SALVIA KILLS!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"Remaining at Courage"

I just finished a phone call with a reporter from a Sacramento, CA newspaper and thought, for the millionth time, how incredibly hard it is to recount the story of Brett's death over and over again. How do you do justice to such a promising life unfinished? How do I explain Brett's charm, his wit, his quiet confidence, his unfailing steadfastness in all he believed? Talk about an impossible task.

A friend sent me this quote today and it really hit home:
"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, "I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along." You must do the thing you think you cannot do."
Eleanor Roosevelt.

I have definitely stared fear in the face and lived to tell the tale since Brett died. I have never been so fearful, in my entire life, as I was getting up to speak in front of our state senate. I will remember that horrible, horrible feeling the rest of my days. Knowing I had to keep it together to convey, without question, the story of my most incredible son's life. Nothing has been harder, and I've faced some tough challenges. I know more are to come, but I'm feel some days as if I'm made of steel and I can't be defeated. Tougher and stronger than I ever imagined. I always knew I possessed those qualities, in spades, but this whole Salvia debacle and losing Brett has proven that to me beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

January 23, 2008 - 2 Years Gone

I can't believe it's been two years since I've seen my sweet boy's face. Some days it feels like forever, some day it seems like just yesterday. I console myself with the fact that the last memory I have of us together, the very last minute, was the two of us standing in the dining room, hugging, and me telling him how much I loved him, and he telling me the same. If I had to write my last moment with Brett I guess I couldn't top how it actually occurred. So, for that, I am eternally grateful. I think of all the parents, one of whom I know, who left their kids off at school, or a friend's house, or wherever, and they've had a fight and many angry words have been exchanged. What parent doesn't know that scenario. They leave in silence or one slams the door or one of them finishes with one parting shot at the other. How horrible that must be, and it's something that can never be taken back or changed. So, I thank the Lord every day, that my last memory of Brett is such a wonderful one. He knew at that last moment, as he did his entire life, that his mom loved him with every ounce of her being. Without him being here, that's really my lasting comfort.

MORE SALVIA NEWS: Thanks I hope in part to my efforts, 2 more states (California and Virginia) have begun the process of regulating Salvia in their states. Both asked me for a letter about Brett's life, what he was like and how Salvia changed him. They loved the letter and it was read before their legislature, as I couldn't be there to do it personally. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to fly wherever and whenever I was needed but that's just not a possibility. I think it is so important to put a name and face to this tragedy, but it's just not feasible to be able to do that each time a bill comes up for vote.

Below is info on the VA bill: (California's passed unanimously out of the House and will now go to the Senate. It's a very watered down version of "Brett's Law" but in such a liberal state as California just getting a bill as such on the records is an achievement. )

A bill to ban salvia divinorum unanimously passed in the Virginia House of Delegates this week, bringing the currently legal drug one step closer to strict regulation.
Salvia is a powerful hallucinogen - some say as strong as LSD. It's the subject of thousands of videos showing bong-smoking teens "tripping" on the substance.
A species of the mint family, salvia can be legally purchased over the Internet or from specialty shops. The dried leaves are available in various degrees of potency, and people smoke them for a high that can last a few minutes or up to half an hour.
Delegate John O'Bannon, (R-Henrico), who is also a neurosurgeon, introduced the bill to outlaw salvia after receiving suggestions from law enforcement officials.
"It's really not a pleasant thing to take. It can cause bad trips, dysphoria and sweats," O'Bannon said. Dysphoria is a general feeling of physical discomfort, anxiety and discontent.
On Tuesday, delegates voted 98-0 in favor of O'Bannon's legislation, House Bill 21. The bill will now go on to the Virginia Senate for consideration. It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Education and Health.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, salvia causes hallucinations, a perception of overlapping realities and a loss of body, dizziness and impaired speech.
The plant, which is native to the province of Oaxaca in Mexico, is not regulated on the federal level, but at least seven states have salvia laws on the books. For centuries, the Mazatec Indians of southern Mexico have used salvia in shamanistic rituals.
More recently, salvia has proliferated on the Internet and at college-area paraphernalia shops.
"I think the Internet has actually driven this. I think the Internet is one of the reasons why it's actually spread out of the local indigenous areas in Mexico, where it's been around forever," said O'Bannon.
His bill would make salvia a Schedule I hallucinogen. This would place the substance in the same class of penalties as LSD, PCP, Ecstasy and cannabis.
O'Bannon said salvia potentially has harmful effects, citing the suicide of Brett Chidester, a Delaware teenager whose parents blame salvia for their son's suicide. Delaware has since banned the substance.