BY MARJORIE KAUTH-KARJALA
The call from the principal, a police officer at the door, your child in front of a judge: Most parents dread the shame that comes when their children make serious mistakes.
But the shame is nothing compared to the pain of learning that your child is gone.
Barb Smith of Milan watched as her son, Brent Legault, who suffered from alcohol and drug addiction, made many mistakes until the final phone call came on Dec. 4, 2005.
Barb Smith recently published "Brent's World," a memoir of her son's life and his struggles with addiction. She plans to donate proceeds to Dawn Farm, an Ypsilanti-based substance abuse rehabilitation program. Brent went to the agency's detox center briefly but walked out before completing the program.
Brent's death wasn't directly caused by drugs and alcohol, but Smith said his addictions are what caused her bright and artistic son to make the poor decisions that led up to him sleeping in his car in cold, snowy weather.
His death was caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, due to the damaged exhaust system his car had as the result of a previous accident. Tests showed there were no illegal drugs or alcohol in Brent's blood when he died, Smith said.
Despite his addictions, which made life with Brent chaotic and stressful, the young man had many good qualities, said his mother and stepfather, Tim Smith.
"He could play the piano beautifully. Every day he would come home and play the piano," Tim Smith said. Brent didn't usually play a written music piece - he'd just create a different tune every time he sat down, his stepfather said.
The young man was also a hard worker, Tim Smith said. Brent worked alongside his stepfather an auto collision shop that Smith used to manage.
And Brent was a loving big brother to Tim Smith's son T.J., who is now 15, he said. Brent and T.J. would listen to music in the basement, sharing the same headset. He was also close to his sister Rachel.
My Dearest Brent,
There is a deep hole in my heart for you that will never heal. I take comfort in knowing that you are safe in heaven resting in Gods arms.
I also take comfort in knowing that I will see you again someday when I get to Gloryland.
I love you!!!