About Me

I am a writer–and have been since I learned to write my name with a crayon. I’ve grown more sophisticated (and older) but no less in love with language and communication. I’ve also begun to draw, and am working on a series of illustrations about relationships. Meanwhile, when I think of it, I will share some creative work here. Enjoy–and please comment if you do.

At the Cosmos Club

16 thoughts on “About Me

  1. What a true and beautiful story about Chad. He was beautiful and such a kind soul. He stayed with us for a week once and I had not seen him in several years. I wish addiction couldn’t have claimed such a wonderful young man. I will always remember him and lift prayers to him.

    • Thank you for your kind words. Are you related to Fred? I always assumed he’d somehow pull through. I didn’t understand the full extent of what was happening, or I’d have done more. Regret is a terrible thing. I thought he’d make it and work with kids. The true beauty of his soul was clear whenever children were around and thronged to him. I miss him terribly. Every so often, I catch him out of the corner of my eye. Thank you for this message.–Janice

  2. Hi,
    I’m working on a new book – Bruce Springsteen – I Was There.

    I came across your accounts of seeing Bruce in concert and I was hoping you would grant me permission to use some of these in the book. Or would you like to write w fresh account of maybe the first time you saw Bruce in concert?

  3. Dear Ms. Schuster. I read your piece in the Washington Post, and I am very sorry for your loss. I know that finding the words to give voice to your loss cannot erase it, but I hope you find some genuine solace in writing about your son. My parents lost a son at a young age from addiction, my brother, and I know this is a hard lot. I hope you take comfort in your loved ones and your memories.

    • Hello:

      You are right, it is a terrible lot to face. I find comfort in knowing that others can name what they have endured through my ability to describe what I have experienced. I hope your family found comfort over time. It is never easy to lose a child, and it is a hard and heavy burden to carry all one’s life.


  4. I lost my baby on Feb. 10 th 2016. He was 31. He left behind 5 kids and me, his mom. I’m on an island as well. Probably right across from you. We probably wouldn’t have to look very hard to recognize one another 😞. There’s so many if us, to many if us. The system definitely let him down. He mostly let himself down. He died by suicide after years of drug abuse. I can’t! It never stops. Never, ever will anything be the same. Shattered is probably about the only word that I can think of that describes this pain. Broken.

    • Hello,

      Thank you for taking time to write. I am sure that I would know you, and that we could sit together, side by side, and be comforted. There must be a place for us to gather where we need not talk or relive our hardest and worst days, but take comfort in knowing that we are together, here, and that our children’s lives mattered, no matter how they lived, or how they ended.


  5. Not sure if this is the right place to send this but I felt I had to contact you after reading the piece you wrote about your island of grief. My son James, forever 30, died 9/26/17. I can relate to it all. On one hand I feel like I should “do something “ and on the other hand it’s a feat that I show up for my two teenage daughters and my husband. I feel abandoned by “friends”, church, family and colleagues. I’m saddened that the experts know as much or less than I do about what works for those with SUD. Even grief FB groups are trying- look for signs, find comfort in the afterlife. Anyway, thanks again. I found comfort in your writing.

    • Hello:

      Surely getting up and showing up for your daughters and husband is “doing” enough. It is so much, and takes so much. I find comfort in language, art, and connecting with others who have traveled this terrible road. Please do not judge yourself, and know that many of us are on a similar path, trying out best to find a way that opens, somewhere, to the light.


  6. I just read your column for the Washington Post. As a fellow parent of a child who suffers from the disease of addiction. I share your frustrations with the state of treatment choices and availability. So many times, as in the case of our son, mental health issues are the root cause and there are not a lot of places or programs available and affordable to treat both issues. The closing of your column is something that I have also felt. Over the years that we have been dealing with his addiction I have been told many times what my husband and I should do differently and watched people who I thought were friends, turn and walk away. It takes being a parent or sibling of an addict to understand that it is out of your control. Only the addict can decide if they want help and seek sobriety. People just don’t get that.

    There have been many nights of sleeplessness waiting for the visit you received from the police. There have been days that we didn’t have any idea where he was or if he was alive. Fortunately, at least for now, he did ask for help and is living a sober life today. But we don’t take that for granted – it is one day at a time. I don’t think we will ever be completely free of worry

    Mr deepest condolences on the loss of your son. I would be happy to visit you on your island of grief and offer whatever support I could.

    • Thank you for your kind words. It is so hard to find the care and help our children need–no matter how old they are. And it is impossible, as a parent, to simply walk away. As another child suffers through addiction in a “health care” system that is anything but, I’ve spent the last several weeks fighting for his life, often with health care workers who seem to think his life should be written off. As long as he is breathing, I have hope. I will do the same for your son. I do not believe that the person with the disorder must want to seek sobriety–I believe that their ability to do so is compromised. Those of us who love them can support them and guide them and try, sometimes repeatedly, to get them to places and people who can help. We can see them hit bottom, but we need not kick them there.

      Thank you again for taking time to write.


  7. I just read your writing, Addiction Killed my Son, in today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer. I have only one life experience with substance abuse and death but your stunning article touched me on a level I can’t explain. Thank you, my perspective is altered. My heart breaks for you, Chad had everything but the core ability to heal. Bless you

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