His picture instantly caught my eye. His grin looked far too young to be in the obituary section. 

But there he was: Tanner Moore.

The more I read about him, the more my heart broke. Before I knew it, I was weeping over a young man I’d never met.

He was a 4.0 East High School graduate in Des Moines, Iowa. A risk-taker. A beloved uncle, brother, son and friend.

His family’s final tribute in Wednesday’s Des Moines Register shared the simplest quirks about him – like how he loved nice shoes and how a wrinkle in his shirt drove him crazy. He seemed like an extraordinary young man.

His story continued, though, and it’s his mother’s raw account of loving her son through his heroin addiction that’s striking a chord with people across the country:

The call came late one night. With tears in his voice, a shaky son said, “Mom I’m leaving for Florida, can I please have my social security card? I’m going to treatment at a place far away from here. They are flying me down and I’m leaving in 2 hours. I’m tired of not knowing where I’m going to sleep the next day or when I’m going to eat again.”

Months later: “Mom I am doing so good here. I love where I am and the people…I’m going to make you proud Mom…I love you.”

Another call came. My crying son said: “Mom I’m on a corner in Georgia and I can’t stay in this house anymore. It’s raining and I don’t know where I am…Mom, please help me I’m scared and I’m so cold.”
Another call: “Mom I’m scared I’ll never be normal again, please help me.”

Yet another call: “I’m going to California Mom….a treatment center like Florida but I don’t want to go back to where I was, there is heroin on every corner. I swear I can’t get away from it… I love you mom.”

Annnd another: “…I’m so excited to come for Christmas that I can’t sleep at night. I don’t want to stay in town long…that’s not good for me.”

Once back in town, another call: “I don’t need you in my life Mom…I’ll never speak to you again.”

As parents when we bring children into the world we have a million hopes and dreams for them, none of which include a drug addiction or planning their funeral. But if the demons of life snatch hold of those we love dearly and shatter the hopes and dreams we once had for them — I hope we can all display the courage and strength of Tanner Moore’s mother. 

Click here to read Tanner Moore’s full obituary.

Shelley Skuster

Shelley is the writer behind http://www.shelleyskuster.com/. She's a former award-winning news reporter who -- after years of infertility, two adoptions and a pregnancy -- decided to leave TV news to stay at home and focus on raising her three daughters -- ages three and under.