A journey that has no end
Wed, 04/24/2019 - 1:49pm admin
—Vicky Reicks shares story of her late son, Adam, and her walk through grief
Sara Stromseth-Troy TPD Staff
CRESCO - April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, dedicated to raising awareness and preventing child abuse. While it is a subject still too painful for many to address and acknowledge, some find themselves on an unsolicited and unexpected journey of grief, struggling with their own guilt while trying to make sense of what happened to their child.
One such person is Vicky Reicks of Cresco. She lost her son, Adam Samec, on April 11, 2001. He was 20 years old.
“I lost my son, Adam, in 2001 to suicide,” Reicks said. “I believe he was driven to it by the anguish caused him as a victim of childhood sexual abuse. I came to that conclusion years after Adam’s death and the death of the man I feel abused him, from the volumes of writings and drawings Adam left behind.”
She continued, “The writings and drawings were too painful for me to look at in detail for a few years and too precious to let go. I kept them boxed up, refusing to share them, even when family members asked to see them. I just couldn’t risk getting anything lost. It was all that I had left of my son.”
Reicks said a plea was contained in her son’s journals: ‘Publish these journals for the world’s view.’
His mother did just that, compiling her son’s writings and artwork, along with her own thoughts, into a self-published book titled, ‘Silent Anguish: The Adam Samec Story’, with the help of author Carol Edwards Denekas, a native of Lime Springs.
“I wrote this book to honor my son. Adam spent half of his life in a tormented struggle, trying to move on. He suffered for years in silence, never finding his voice to publicly tell what was happening to him. His voice found its outlet through the writing of poetry, stories, journals and artwork,” she said.
“I shared Adam’s story with his family so they could finally understand the trauma he had endured,” she said. “I shared a very personal tragedy with others so that we as a society can better understand the destruction and long-term consequences of child sexual abuse on a child’s life and the severity of a child’s confusion, suffering and torment. Adam’s pain represents the pain of thousands of young victims –many of whom, like Adam, did not survive the trauma.”
“I also wrote this book in the hope that it would help me on my daily journey of living with the loss of my son. As a survivor, I needed to find meaning and a sense of purpose for both Adam’s life and my own life – in order to regain a sense of well-being. I wrote this book to create meaning to the suffering: I have a voice and a power to use my son’s story as a platform.”
Reicks notes that her son never named his abuser in his writings and she does not name him in her book. However, based upon her son’s writings and particularly his drawings that feature religious motifs such as Catholic crucifixes, demons, rosaries and angels, she has come to believe her son’s abuser was a priest.
Reicks remembers her son as intelligent, sensitive, possessing a deep religious faith.
“Adam was a happy child growing up; loving, gentle and kind. He excelled academically throughout his school years and was socially accepted by his peers. He read the writings and teachings of the world’s greatest philosophers and poets. His sensitive and caring nature was reflected through his passion for writing and drawing.
“Adam had a deep and abiding love of God. Catholics have absolute faith and belief and love of their church, of its rituals and traditions. Adam’s father and I were devout Catholics, attending church with Adam and his older brother regularly. Even as a small boy, Adam was very drawn to his faith,” she said.
Reicks said she began to notice emotional problems in her son when he was about 12 years old.
“Adam’s father and I divorced in 1991, so I had a lot of guilt about the divorce affecting him,” Reicks said. “He was losing weight. I took him to the doctor and he was diagnosed with depression and malnourishment. He did well until his senior year of high school. Adam graduated Crestwood High School in the top 10 percent of his class in 1999. By the summer of 1999, he was in a downward spiral into mental illness that resulted in his first of many hospitalizations. He was hospitalized for 135 days (inpatient) in 18 months.”
While Adam had the symptoms of something that was trauma-based, Reicks and Adam’s health care provider never suspected that it was trauma-based and the right questions were never asked at that time.
“I realize now how important it is to talk with your children,” Reicks said. “I think a parent really needs to be paying close attention to what is going on with their kids and to reassure them that they can tell you anything,” Reicks said. “If someone touches them inappropriately, make sure they know that no matter who it is, they tell someone.”
Reicks remembers she tried having a frank conversation with her son two years before his death.
“During one of Adam’s hospitalizations, I asked him if a priest had done something to him,” she said. “He denied it. We don’t know what he was told; he could have been manipulated or threatened but the fear was there. Adam was burdened by anxiety, guilt, shame and humiliation, as are so many victims and survivors. It restricts them from telling people. I never pushed the issue with him again but now I live with the regret. I never thought about it until I started reading his work and looking at his drawings that I came to this realization.”
Following Adam’s death in 2001, Reicks struggled to get through each day. She had a 4-year-old daughter, Jessica, to raise and credits her for helping her move forward but she also needed physical and emotional help through her grief.
“No one is ever prepared when they lose a child no matter the circumstances. It is a crushing blow to a parent’s mind, body and spirit. When we are hurting we should never be afraid to ask for help. I am very grateful to my health care provider and to my therapist for getting me through the trauma in the first weeks and months following Adam’s death.”
Reicks summoned the strength to look through the writings and artwork Adam left behind in late 2003 and into 2004. She came across writings like this:
The scepter has been pointed into my heart
Go ahead, weak devil, tear my fragile body apart
Let my blood and my life trickle down the storm drain
Would you like a piece of gold first?
Is this not a game to you little devil?
I thought you liked to play
Making the innocent your puppets, burning your days
Away in the eternal fire
Once I dreamed of being like you and your kind, demon
I dreamt of the painful transformation
From human to behemoth monster
Does every person have to be approved and stamped?
The silver ball and chain clasped tightly around my ankle
May as well hold an advertising sign: Soul for sale
All I am is a product to feed some social purpose
Though at times I lay money out on the ethics that you teach
Tonight, on this very eve,
I feel that nothing you can preach will reach me
On the road I was to being like you — hah, to think
To think that I would have been toying with others lives
Humored by the ravage of friends
And the separation of husbands and wives
To think, you cold hearted bastard,
I once could have been you
Reicks began compiling the book based on Adam’s writings and drawings. She included his writings and artwork in the book, along with her own thoughts.
“It is important to me that Adam’s story is told through his own words,” Reicks said.
In addition to her older son, Chris and daughter, Jessica, Reicks credits her significant other, Jerry Keune, for being understanding of her continued and difficult journey as a mother who lost her son.
She continues, “Eighteen years ago, I was put on a journey that has no end but it continues to move forward. I felt lost, isolated and alone, but no one else could walk this journey with me.
“I believe it’s not possible to lose a child and ever be okay. Due to spending so much of the last two years of Adam’s life in close proximity to him, my biggest struggle has been and continues to be living with the knowledge of how much he suffered mentally, physically and spiritually. It was my responsibility as Adam’s mom to protect him and I failed. I live with a lot of guilt. Grief is forever. It doesn’t go away. It becomes a part of you. As the years roll on, the pain is still there. It just becomes more manageable.”
Reicks said, “I have struggled with the tragic circumstances of Adam’s life for many years. One day I asked myself, ‘Do I let this tragedy make me bitter, or can I use it as a way to help individuals and families dealing with the aftermath of childhood sexual abuse?’ My book is dedicated not only to my son, but to the memory of other innocent children whose lives have been destroyed and forever changed by the evil that exists in the world. The sexual abuse of a child defies all human understanding. It is so important to learn the signs and what is going on behind a child’s cries for help.”
As Reicks shares her son’s story, she wants the world to know one more thing:
“Adam was an incredible child,” Reicks said. “How lucky I was to be his mother.”
Vicky Reicks’ book ‘Silent Anguish: The Adam Samec Story’ is available for checkout locally at Cresco Public Library and for purchase on Amazon.com.
For more information about childhood sexual abuse prevention or to seek help, contact Helping Services for Youth & Families, phone number: 563-387-1720 or the Domestic Abuse Resource Line: 24/7 at: 1-800-383-2988. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is: 1-800-273-8255.