FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla.—Despite her bright smile, a deep pain smoldered behind Michele Holbrook’s eyes. She had experienced one of the most agonizing experiences a mother can have—the loss of her son.
Chandler Cook, a towering young man at 6 feet, 5 inches tall, died last April of an accidental overdose at the age of 28. Unbeknownst to him, his street-bought heroin had been spiked with fentanyl—an ultra-potent synthetic opioid of which just two to three milligrams can kill.
“That’s my son,” Holbrook told The Epoch Times, pointing to a framed photo of her son and herself in her living room. There were more photos on her bedroom wall, and in a photo album she later brought out as well.
“I remember that feeling inside of me, just wanting to run, run as fast as I can, just to get away—that it was a dream,” she said of the day she learned about Cook’s overdose. It was “the hardest day I’ve ever had in my life.”
After shoulder surgery during his teen years, Cook was prescribed OxyContin, a strong opioid prescription pain medication to which he became addicted. Later, he began taking heroin and other drugs.
However, Cook had started to turn his life around in early 2020, when he got a job in the restaurant industry following a positive experience at a rehab facility. His mom was overjoyed that he was getting up in the mornings daily and going to work—he was finally clean from drugs.
Then, the pandemic hit.
Like many, Cook lost his job because of lockdowns imposed in response to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. He was living alone in his apartment at the time, and the isolation ended up taking a heavy toll on his mental health.
“Before the pandemic, he was going to work every day, he was learning to bartend at the restaurant he worked at—they loved him up there,” she said. “He would make you laugh at the drop of a hat.”
BY BOWEN XIAO