In Memory of Michael Elliott

Michael Elliott

Michael F. Elliott would have been 48 years old this year, but he died shortly after his 45th birthday from complications due to years of alcohol abuse, leaving a wife and two young children behind.

Michael attended traditional treatment four times but continued to struggle with addiction. When we inquired about Adult & Teen Challenge, the only option was out of state and more than we could afford to get him going. Recently, Adult & Teen Challenge started a program in Billings, Montana. I couldn’t help but wish that would have happened three years ago, but we are so hopeful for our community that this is happening now.

In honor of Michael’s birthday and life, please consider donating to support our Billings A&TC facility and helping sponsor someone who is struggling with addiction from our community.

Your contribution will make an impact, whether you donate $5 or $500. Every little bit helps. Thank you for your support.—

— Kristi Elliott

The Keeper

by Kristi Elliott

The Keeper wasn’t granting any favors.
An anguished voice finally convinced The Keeper to agree.
The words, spoken in utter desperation.
“He’s only 14. He just wants to say goodbye to his dad!”
“Okay. 10 o’clock tomorrow,” The Keeper confirmed.
Little Lady declared she wasn’t going.
In the end, she needed something final, also.
Was eleven too young to see her Daddy dead?

I couldn’t fathom.
It certainly was too young to lose her Daddy.
That I knew.
Other reasoning was void.
I didn’t even know what day it was.
Didn’t time stop anyway?

The Keeper pointed down the hall and to the right.
Little Buddy led the way, rounding a corner into the dimly lit room. Little Lady eagerly followed, unknowingly.
How could she know?

It was no question where Daddy was situated.
Little Buddy stopped, as if our grief had spilled over, filling the room and he could no longer push his way through.
She didn’t miss a beat.
Veering off to the left and away from Daddy, she found a bookshelf and started her signature chatter.
Nervousness seeped out of her as she touched everything in the room and questioned.
“Why was the room so dark?”
“Why were books on a shelf in a room where you would never think to sit – without a care in the world, – and read the afternoon away?”
“Who thought flowers would make things less dreary?”
She inquired about everything but her daddy in a pine box.

Masquerading as the strong one, I rounded the corner.
Holding back crippling grief was mandatory.
But the motionless corpse of the man I called, “My Love” for 21 years, took my breath away as if walking into a vacuum.
I froze.
It was real.
“Breathe,” I urged myself.
Addiction had stolen something so precious.
Little Buddy slowly advanced.
Little Lady was still wandering the room, muttering questions to stave off the intense grief.
Little Buddy stood quietly over him, staring.
“Can I touch him?” he whispered.
“Yes,” I choked.
He rubbed his fingers as if to comfort.
“He’s so cold, Momma.”
It was his turn to question now.
“When did his hands grow so thin?”
“I didn’t realize his hair was such a dark brown.”
“Why is his skin that color?”
He quieted as more questions filled his head.
“Why?” He whispered.
“Addiction.” I murmured.
“But why?”

There’s no answer to satisfy.
Nothing makes sense.
He loved us more than anything in this world.
Addiction took him anyway.
The most adventurous person we knew, he loved life.
Addiction took him anyway.
He was kind and brilliant and had so much to offer.
Addiction took him anyway.
He tried to overcome by going to treatment…four times.
Addiction took him anyway.

The Keeper was gracious.
His death was so undignified.
Addiction has no respect.
His body laid motionless.
Frigid on the floor.
His tired spirit void.
One hand up, as if to beckon help.
Eyes half open.
His head in a pool of blood, still wet.
The esophagus thins and oozing wounds open, continually spurting blood.
The alcohol is too harsh for life.
It adversely affects every organ.
Every blood cell.
Every bone.
Every tissue.
It leaves nothing untouched.
He laid for 3 days.

Standing over his body, I screamed at the devil.
“How could you take him?”
The years of hope drained away.
Realizing he was now free, I knelt next to his lifeless body and whispered, “I love you.”

Addiction didn’t love him.
It didn’t respect him.
It didn’t comfort him.
It didn’t know him.
But it took him.

He was a husband.
A father.
A son.
A brother.
A friend.
A neighbor.
A business owner.
A child of God.

The Keeper did well.
He cleaned his skin and combed his hair.
He laid him in a rigid box so a boy could say, “Good-bye” to his dad, one last time.

We celebrate his birthday.
We tell funny stories.
We wish for his laugh.
We crave his presence.
It’s so painful over and over.
Our lesson: death is final.
No second chances.
28-day treatment didn’t work.
Statistically, the majority parish from addiction.
But a year-long program offers hope and the second chance we didn’t get.
Consider donating to help Teen and Adult Challenge.
Giving a second chance.
Billings’ A&TC has been in operation for two years and graduated seven men.
Families changed because someone gave.



18600 SE McLoughlin Blvd.
Milwaukie, OR 97267


Adult & Teen Challenge Pacific Northwest is a U.S. 501(c)(3) non-profit, EIN 93-0844063