This is the story of a hero’s journey—of dark and light, addiction and recovery, life and death and the afterlife. It is a story of sorrow and redemption, the bond between a mother and son, and the legacy of addiction that they heal together after her son crosses to the “other side.”
The Hero in Heroin is Mindy Miralia’s honest telling of her life as an international businesswoman who constantly strove to be the best parent possible despite her family’s constant uprooting from one part of the globe to another—moves that were demanded by work. And although his childhood was filled with love, by the time her son was fifteen, Micah was hooked on drugs. He eventually succumbed to the lure of deadly heroin.
When Micah committed suicide at age 31, his soul was aware that it had not finished its work. Returning to his mother in spirit form, he brought home the hero’s “treasure,” working to help her heal and to help society reconnect with the spiritual aspects of the human condition.
At a time when our country faces a heroin epidemic, this book will inspire anyone battling with addiction and anyone who has lost a child, no matter what age or cause.
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Read an Excerpt
The Hero in Heroin
A Mother and Son's Journey on Both Sides of the Veil
By Mindy Miralia
Balboa PressCopyright © 2015 Mindy Miralia
All rights reserved.
Michael and I met in an immunology class at the University of Houston in late 1976. I noticed him on Day One because he was "older," wore a roadster cap, and had on a forest-green V-neck sweater with the initials MWF scrawled in white across the upper left side. No one else in the class was dressed in this preppy, distinctive, older-person manner—and it really made him stand out.
He was a handsome man—physically fit with bluish eyes, beautiful piano- keyboard teeth, and a thick mustache. Some said he resembled Tom Selleck, and he did. He sat at the front of the classroom, the good student often first to answer the professor's questions—while I sat at the back of the room dissecting him. Laughing to my work colleague Kelly, who sat to my left, I girlishly giggled loudly enough for others to hear, "That guy has to wear a sweater to remind him which days to come to class: Monday-Wednesday-Friday!"
Eventually I met this MWF guy with the roadster cap who was eight years my senior, and we started dating. Over the next weeks and months, we had a lot of fun together—we even became highly competitive in our pre-med studies.
Then, in the summer of 1978, Michael decided to attend Texas Tech, and he moved to Lubbock. I was in my last year of undergraduate school, with twenty-one hours left to complete, so it wasn't feasible for me to consider joining him. We had professed our love for one another, but admittedly, I felt somewhat confused by his sudden departure.
Nonetheless, I believed if things between us were to work out, they would, and if not, they wouldn't. I worked at the University of Texas Medical School in the physiology department, so between my work and my studies, I barely had time to eat—let alone spend much time pondering romance. I had a long road ahead of me, and I was doing everything possible to position myself for the future by getting as much hands-on experience as I could and getting to know the players in the medical school. I knew these things would give me an advantage when it came time for me to apply.
The new school semester began, and although I missed Michael, my life went on. Everything seemed to be falling into a regular routine when, three weeks into the semester, I noticed how difficult it was for me to walk the three city blocks between my car and my classrooms—and even the short distance from one class to another. I felt winded, as if I'd run a 100-yard dash at breakneck speed. I had no energy and basically felt sick, all over, all the time. I'd drive from school to work and somehow make it through the remainder of each day, only to go home and have to study, do homework, and make dinner—then crash and start all over again the next morning.
This "illness" continued for weeks. I had been the picture of health, active and vivacious, and now I had contracted what seemed like a terrible virus of some kind. I felt worried, so in early October, I made an appointment with my favorite doctor, Dale Brown, to find out what in the world could possibly be wrong with me. My mother met me at his office.
Dr. Brown examined me. He asked questions, drew blood, and took a urine sample. Thirty minutes later, his nurse escorted me to his office, where I sat and waited. His office was filled with photos—on the wall, the shelves, and his desk. I was snooping at handwritten notes on his desk when I heard the door open behind me. He gently touched my right shoulder as he passed by.
He sat down in the chair, put his feet on the desk, and leaned back. Locking his hands behind his head and looking me squarely in the eyes, he said, "Min, what do you think is wrong with you?"
"I don't know. That's why I'm here. Do I have a virus?" I asked.
He took his feet off the desk and leaned his body and face into my space. Again he asked, "Now, Min, WHAT do you think is wrong with you?"
I had never seen him act this way before, and I was somewhat dumbfounded. I looked around the room at all those pictures. My mind raced. I scanned his face and then looked at the statues on his desk. "Am I pregnant?" I asked.
"Yes, yes you are," he said, somewhat seriously, acting differently from the way he had every other time I had been around him.
"HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?" I blurted out. "You told me I couldn't have children—and that if I ever wanted to try, I would have to really work at it, using fertility drugs and God only knows what else!"
Silence filled the room. Fractions of seconds seemed to turn into hours, and I felt as if I were in a time abyss. The silence got deeper and vaster, and I felt completely blank—a feeling I had never experienced before.
The silence was broken when he asked, "What do you want to do?"
He knew I wasn't married. He also knew that he, along with an internist and an endocrinologist, had sat me down years before—when I was in early adolescence—and explained that I had a condition that made my chances of having a child slim to none.
Suddenly, I snapped out of the blankness, and with sheer joy, great surprise, and pure delight, I said, "What do you mean? I want to keep it!" At those words, his body relaxed, and he became the person I had known for many years. He seemed happy—but just as perplexed as I was.
Immediately, he reached into his top-left desk drawer and pulled out a sample of prenatal vitamins, instructing me to start taking them immediately. Walking across the room to get a cup of water for me, he pensively said, "You remember a couple of months ago when you had the cyst?"
"Yes," I said.
"The only thing I can think of is that something happened when the cyst ruptured. I don't know exactly how or why, but I do know an egg was released or you would not be pregnant."
He gave me a big bear hug when I got up to leave and told me to see the receptionist to schedule regular visits. When I walked into the waiting area, I could see my mother grinning from ear to ear. How did she know? She, too, gave me a giant hug and said, "Let's call Michael. He's been waiting to hear the news."
"What?" I queried.
"He's the reason I'm here," my mother said. "He called me earlier in the week and asked that I be with you, just in case."
About thirty minutes after leaving Texas Medical Center, we arrived at my apartment and called Michael. (We didn't have cell phones then). I dialed the number in Lubbock, and he picked up on the first ring.
"So what did the doctor say?" he asked, quickly followed by, "Was your mother there with you?"
"Yes, my mother was and is with me. And the doctor told me I'm going to have a baby."
"That's wonderful! I knew it in my heart," he exclaimed. We agreed to talk again later that evening.
Mom and I ran errands—getting my prescriptions filled, buying healthy foods from the grocery store, and finally relaxing at the apartment with a cup of my favorite jasmine green tea. Delicately, we sipped our tea out of fine Schumann Bavaria German china, looking at one another and giggling like schoolgirls as we talked about me being pregnant.
"When's your due date?" she asked. "Dr. Brown guesstimated May 3; wouldn't it be weird if my baby were born on the same day Granny died [May 17]?"
Granny was my maternal grandmother, Minnie, to whom I had been much closer than my mother. She had died in 1977, taking a piece of my heart with her. She had two daughters who had two daughters, and she had always wanted a boy. Maybe, just maybe, I would have that boy!
* * *
That night I headed to my bedroom, hoping to lay my head on the pillow and go to sleep. I was unable to articulate the feelings swirling around in my mind. What was happening? How? And why?
I was abruptly pulled back to reality by the ring of the phone. I knew it was Michael. I didn't know if I was really ready to talk, but my hand reached for the phone automatically, and I sounded a weak "Hello."
Part of me was happy to be talking to him, while another part was still somewhere else. He wanted a play-by-play of the visit to the doctor's office. He was concerned about how I was feeling physically and told me, somewhat dictatorially, that he would be arriving Friday on Southwest Flight 826. Professing his love for me, he said, "Good night, I'll see you this weekend."
I really loved Michael, and I felt excited that he would be back in Houston soon.CHAPTER 2
I had never quit anything in my life, so making the pressured decision to withdraw from my classes, leave work, and abort my life plan to move to Lubbock, Texas, was the most difficult thing I had ever done. I was prepared to stay the course, have the child on my own, and deal with life as it presented itself. But Michael insisted on us being together, and I caved in.
After saying our good-byes to family and friends, we packed and loaded the U-Haul hitched to my 1974 red, black-topped, two-door Monte Carlo. Thirteen hours later, we reached 19th Street and apartment F32—a small, dreary, one-bedroom apartment with the tiniest kitchen I had ever seen—which we would now call home. Of course, young love doesn't care about the size or functionality of living space. As long as we were together, we'd be happy, right?
On the bright side, Dr. Brown had referred me to his very good friend and colleague in Lubbock, Dr. Filipe—who welcomed me warmly and appeared delighted to have me as a patient. He wasn't Dr. Brown, but somehow, I felt comforted by the connection between the two doctors.
Michael had been living in Lubbock for about five months and was fairly well established in the community by then. Two of Michael's friends' wives were also pregnant—Jennifer was due three months ahead of me, in February, and Debbie was due three months behind me, in August. The three of us compared pregnancy notes all the time. We shopped, went to lunch, watched the guys' softball games, and gathered together with our spouses almost every weekend. All in all, I was enjoying being there, especially after we moved to a much larger two-bedroom, two-bath apartment. Now we could have our friends visit us. Life began to feel more settled.
My disappointment about having withdrawn from classes to make the move faded when I learned that the medical school at Texas Tech had recently opened and was accepting students who had not yet graduated. With good grades and a strong recommendation, a three-year undergraduate could get in—and I felt I could do it with the help of my University of Houston professors, of Dr. Filipe (who was affiliated with Texas Tech), and of several University of Texas Medical School contacts. If that didn't work out, I would just take courses to complete my bachelor's degree.
I planned to be there by spring. Since I wasn't working or going to school yet, I had plenty of time on my hands. Often I would walk around the Texas Tech campus familiarizing myself with the buildings, or I would get in the car and drive around to learn about the city and the surrounding area.
One day I decided to stop at the country club to get a sandwich—and I was shocked to see Michael sitting at the end of the bar in the middle of the day, drinking a beer. I stopped and observed him quietly for a few minutes. With several days' worth of stubble on his face and his head hanging down unnaturally, he looked downhearted and despondent.
I sensed it was best not to approach him, so I quietly backed up, retracing my footsteps one at a time. I silently exited the door I had entered just moments before.CHAPTER 3
Past Meets Present
In January, I enrolled as planned at Texas Tech, taking several of the classes that I had dropped at UH the prior fall semester. The baby was due in May, giving me plenty of time to complete the semester.
On one of my regular visits to Dr. Filipe, he was shocked and surprised to see that I had lost a significant amount of weight for five months' gestation. His concern was so great that he decided to hospitalize me to determine the cause. I was stupefied. I had never been pregnant before, and admittedly, I felt somewhat ignorant despite all the information I had gleaned from the various books I'd read. I'd thought I was fine, and I'd just stayed busy with school.
I had never been in a hospital other than to visit friends or relatives, and the reality of it didn't hit me until I was the one lying in the hospital bed. All I could hear, over and over again, was the message I had been given when I was sixteen: "The likelihood of you having a child is slim to none ... the likelihood of you having a child is slim to none ... the likelihood of you having a child is slim to none."
My feelings were all over the board as I lay there, my mind wandering. I sensed something was not "right" with Michael, but I couldn't put a finger on what it was. Part of me felt he was with me out of a sense of responsibility, despite his words of deep love for me. I reflected on how often he would lock himself in the bedroom and talk on the phone. He had a child, Christopher, by a previous marriage, so I assumed his conversations were with his son or the child's mother, Jane, and that he simply wanted privacy. Maybe he didn't want to upset me. Also, Michael and Jane's divorce was not final—a minor tidbit that he had failed to mention when we started dating and that he had not shared with me until I moved to Lubbock!
So not only did I feel vulnerable, but I also felt a strong survival instinct kicking in along with a sense of responsibility for my own situation and that of my unborn child. Could this be why I was losing weight? No, not possible, I deduced in the recesses of my nomadic thoughts. Was I fighting too hard to move forward educationally so I could take care of myself, just in case—no matter what? I deflected each of these thoughts as they surfaced, pushing them away somewhere—anywhere.
In the midst of the subtle relationship dynamics playing out between Michael and me, I felt blessed to have a little human being growing inside me. I sensed an unusual closeness to this little one, something unique and special—so much so that I tossed out all the "Name Your Baby" books and focused on names in the Bible. During my sleepless nights in the hospital, and then later at home, I pored through the Bible, page by page, writing names that I liked on a sheet of paper. I felt guided in some way, and I also felt peaceful inside. I wanted a boy—and I only selected male names from the Bible.
I was in the hospital for a week. Numerous tests were run, and each one came back normal. The baby was the exact size it should be for the gestation period. The fetus was getting all the nourishment it needed—but for some unknown reason, I was not getting what I needed to grow and thrive.
Not knowing exactly why I was losing weight, Dr. Filipe told me I'd be putting myself and the baby at risk if I chose to continue going to school. He believed the stress was more than my body could handle. He took the time to explain that while I could always go back to school, due to my health history, I might not always have the opportunity to have a child.
Excerpted from The Hero in Heroin by Mindy Miralia. Copyright © 2015 Mindy Miralia. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part One The Journey Begins,
1 Miracle Baby, 3,
2 Lubbock, 8,
3 Past Meets Present, 10,
4 The Hero Arrives, 13,
5 What's in a Name?, 15,
6 Bound for Foreign Lands, 17,
7 Surprises in Singapore, 21,
8 Back in Houston: A Boy's Cry for his Father, 27,
9 Boulder: Landlocked, 32,
10 Dubai: A Perfect Life, 36,
11 First Losses, 41,
12 The Drawings, 45,
13 Mauritius: Stranded, 49,
14 Goa: Riots, 52,
15 Back in Dubai: Seeds of War, 56,
16 Baton Rouge: Politics, Religion, and Poetry, 60,
17 Southern California: Earthquakes, 67,
18 Charlotte: Something Major Changes, 72,
19 Get Thee Behind Me, Satan!, 76,
20 The Warning, 79,
21 Tough Love, 84,
22 Energy Medicine, 87,
23 The Truth about Michael, 90,
24 Heroin, 95,
25 The Road to Recovery—Again, 97,
26 Affirming Life, 100,
27 Across the Generations, 102,
28 Michael Leaves for the Last Time, 107,
29 The Circle of Life, 109,
30 Heartbreak, 112,
31 Hope, 115,
32 Death's-Door Choice, 117,
33 March 29, 2011, 121,
34 Accepting Death, 129,
Part Two The Healing: The Hero Returns,
35 The Bead, 135,
36 Sinclaire's Call, 138,
37 The Swing, 140,
38 Micah Pays a Visit, 143,
39 The Pocket Watch, 148,
40 Thank You, 152,
41 The Help, 153,
42 Kitchen Conversation, 157,
43 Robin Tekwelus Youngblood, 160,
44 T-Shirt Quilts, 169,
45 Full-Court Press, 172,
46 12-12-12, 179,
47 The Best Christmas Ever, 184,
48 John of God, 186,
49 The Agreement, 191,
Part Three The Hero's Innermost Cave: Writings of Micah Aaron Matthew Felcman,
Untitled (age 11), 197,
Stay or Go (Age 12), 198,
Hugs (Age 13), 199,
Costumed Couples, 200,
A Brief Introduction, 204,
The First Buzz, 211,
Evil Seeds, 214,
Let Us Dance, 220,
I'm Sorry, Daughter, 227,
My Children, 229,
Because of You, 230,
Fear and Loathing in Oahu, 233,
Here We Go Again, 235,
It's Been Years Since My Last Confession, 237,
Precious Medical Moments, 239,
June 22, 2009, 241,
Stuck in This Realm, 248,
About the Author, 263,