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Another Long Islander lost to drugs, another mother's heart broken

Joshua Glasner and his mother, Pat Collins of

Joshua Glasner and his mother, Pat Collins of Middle Island, at the Great South Bay Music Festival in 2018. Credit: Pat Collins

Josh is gone.

My son, Joshua Colean Glasner, died on June 19 of a drug overdose — like so many of his friends, so many who grew up in Massapequa, so many of his generation, so many hundreds on Long Island who have died from drug abuse. Cocaine, fentanyl and Xanax were found in his system.

He had problems with drug abuse since his teens. He spent time at various in- and out-patient facilities and saw advisers and psychologists all over Long Island. He seemed to be doing well for the last year or so. He got a job at a veterinary clinic in Locust Valley, helping handle animals, and loved it. Some clients sent me their condolences and even put a few dollars in their cards.

The night before he died, while I was watching the Yankees game, he asked me to make sure he was awake by 6 the next morning and he went to bed. When I went to wake him up, he didn’t respond and his hands were cold.

I called 911 and the emergency medical technicians and police knew instantly what had happened. My neighbor Tina Roberts, an EMT, rushed over and dragged me out of my apartment. She wouldn’t let me look when they took Josh out in a body bag.

Two of my neices, Kerri Haughey and Mary Brite, stopped by to make sure I wasn’t going nuts. Everyone, neighbors and family, brought me food and wine.

Was it suicide? Josh didn’t leave a note. His friends and co-workers said there’s no way he would let me be the one to find him. Also, lately, he had become more protective, scolding me for carrying heavy things or stepping up to walk the dog in bad weather.

My husband, Paul Glasner, and I adopted Josh when he was 3 days old. Paul died when Joshua was 3. A few years later, Paul’s best friend, Mark Calderon, would come out from Queens on weekends to take Josh on motorcycle rides, but Mark died in a motorcycle accident when Josh was 12. Josh sometimes alienated his cousins and didn’t get along with many at school. Does any of this explain dying at 31? There’s no way of knowing.

When people ask my religion, I say I’m an Irish Catholic who goes to a Southern Baptist church. My sister, Jean Haughey, organized the funeral at Victory Chapel Baptist Church in Bellport, and it was wondrous. A veterinarian spoke about how much the clients liked Josh at the clinic and made everyone cry. All of my nieces and nephews and their children showed up. 

And now it’s over. Neighbors keep asking me how I’m doing. Lawn workers at my apartment complex, most of whom can barely speak English, told me to let them know whether I need anything. Nieces keep calling to make sure I’m eating. Nephews want to help me with tech stuff, which Josh always took care of. My church family tells me to have faith.

And yet, Josh is gone. So who am I supposed to be now? I focused on him for so long, and now I’ve lost part of my identity.

Roxy, my puggle, looks beyond me at the front door when I come home, and sometimes she whines when she hears a car door outside that, I assume, sounds like Josh’s Honda Accord.

I can’t explain it to you, Roxy, since I can’t even explain it to myself.

Reader Pat Collins lives in Middle Island.