“To my family, to the child I lost because I wasn’t there for the only girl I will ever love, to all those who have continuously stood beside me ...”
These words were penned by Adam Miles Willis at 4:45 a.m. on March 1, 2012. The letter was addressed, “To whom it may concern.”
His parents and a friend found the saved computer document on June 12. Two days earlier, Adam died in a motorcycle crash in Cleveland.
“Adam had been battling drug addiction since he was 18,” said Vicky Willis, Adam’s mother. “He had just committed to Teen Challenge and filled out his application ...”
Added Adam’s father, Trent, “He still had the battle [drugs], but he knew what he had to do to win the battle, as far as, fully committing himself to Teen Challenge.”
The letter covers everything from the breakup with his girlfriend when he was 19 to his involvement with drugs and the court system.
“We want people to know his side of the story,” Vicky said. “We want people to know some guy went through the same things they are and he found a way to overcome [his addiction].”
It took Adam six years to work through his drug problems. Even he was uncertain as to how the problems had developed.
“... The relief felt in every part of me to finally talk to someone about all of this, and to finally go back and find out where all of this began, and how I let it continue for such a long time, when as a child up until about the age of 17 or 18, would never have touched a single drug or anything to get in trouble or jeopardize my future ...,” he wrote.
Vicky and Trent agree their son’s difficulties began, and continued, due to the negative influence of his friends.
“If you are with people who are influencing you to do things you know you shouldn’t, then change crowds,” Vicky advises. “Change your atmosphere. Find new friends.”
Added Trent, “He had a hard time doing that.”
“Turn to the people who you love and who you know loves you,” Vicky continued. “Turn to them and talk to them.”
Family members waited to speak with Adam. He did not admit he had a problem until he was 25.
“That is why his letter meant so much,” Vicky said. “He admitted he had a problem.”
Adam wrote, “... until they [addicts] actually open their eyes and see that this isn’t how one should feel on a daily basis.”
The letter added, “... choosing a rehab program to completely clean my system out to feel normal for the first time in several years, along with other programs, to open up to others so that they might not have to endure all that I have done to my own life, [is] something I would never wish upon anyone.”
According to Adam, Teen Challenge was going to be different because he was, “willingly and truly wanting to change this time.”
A year and one day before Adam’s crash, he recommitted his life to God. He spent the next year battling to get his life back on track, according to his parents. This included seeing his one-time girlfriend.
“In February, he drove up to see the girl he loved, to spend a couple of days with her so they could talk,” Vicky said. “... She was not ready to talk. She did not take him serious. That really bottomed him out.”
On the way home, Adam swerved around an object in the road and rolled his truck. The next day he asked his mother, “Why can’t I just die?”
“I said, ‘Listen son, God is not ready for you. There is so much more you’ve got to do,’” Vicky said. “He had been in so many accidents.”
Adam joined three other rehab programs before committing to Teen Challenge. He said he was ready for a change. He was willing to fight for his life.
“Now I can see vividly how lucky I am to be here still, to be alive still,” Adam wrote. “I am thankful for every second chance I have been given, and now I feel I have my first second chance to prove not only to myself that I am capable of living up to everything I have been spared to do in my life, but to everyone else, and those that could be going through even a portion of what I have been through, that people can change for the better no matter how much.”
Adam died three months and nine days after saving these words on his computer. An application to Teen Challenge was filled out. He continued to work on his relationship with his old girlfriend. Bridges were being mended between son and parents.
“He had such a big heart,” Vicky said. “He would do anything for anybody, until the drugs completely changed his personality to where he was unapproachable.”
Added Vicky, “He was more approachable the last year.”
The last year was spent finishing classes at Cleveland State Community College, Adam’s parents said. He had a dual major in business management and computer engineering. He planned on enrolling in a college near his old girlfriend this fall.
Trent and Vicky honor their son’s name in their own ways. Adam’s father’s name is Greg. He now goes by Trent, his middle name.
“That was the name he always called me by,” Trent said. “It wasn’t cool to say ‘Daddy’ anymore, so he called me ‘Trent’ for the last eight years or so.”
Vicky wrote a poem two weeks ago to commemorate Adam’s birthday. It is titled, “Ode to Adam Miles Willis.” The “A” in Adam has a halo over the letter.
“To whom it may concern?! To ALL who truly knew you. To the ones who took the time to know and Love you as I do,” Vicky wrote.
The poem discusses the ups and downs of Adam’s 25 years of life.
“God gave me a son on Oct.15, 1986; just on loan you know. For twenty-five years I held you, Loved you while yet you were below ... Never has there been a more kind and gentle heart, Than my Dearest, sweetest, Adam that I Loved from the very start.”
A birthday party and remembrance of life celebration will be thrown by Adam’s parents Monday. Vicky mentioned the upcoming birthday in her poem.
“Happy Birthday, Adam Miles, for happy you are indeed. This birthday you spend with God, you have no care nor need,” Vicky wrote.
Both parents offer advice to parents going through what they did and the addicts who remind them of Adam.
“I’m just hoping it will reach the parents who are going through the same things we went through while facing his addiction,” Vicky said. “I hope it will reach their children who are going through the addiction. There is hope. It’s never too late ...”
Added Trent, “Listen to them regardless of what they are going through.”
Vicky’s eyes filled with tears.
“Hold on to them. Listen to them. Be there for them,” Vicky said. “Don’t make false accusations until you know the facts.”