Remembering Scott Neal Zebrowski

by Jill Cichowicz

Scott Neal Zebrowski

“I just want to see the twins turn 40,” my Father had eerily written to my siblings when we were 38 years old.

In my heart, I knew Scott would never see 40.

But I kept that to myself for fear if I said it out loud it would come true. We just celebrated our 40th birthday on June 24th this year and it was the hardest birthday I have ever had to face. Not for fear of becoming older, but because I had to go it alone.

We were twins and I liked sharing my birthday with Scott. It felt like we were in a secret group with just two members. Scott died on February 28,2017 from “Fentanyl Toxicity,” also knows as accidental drug overdose.

Drugs didn’t define Scott

He was so much more than that.

Scott was a nerdy kid with big glasses and wore sweatsuits every day of the week, never brushed his hair, etc.

He had a heart of gold and had my back no matter what. He always marched to the beat of a different drummer and he had a lot more strength and integrity than most. He blossomed into a handsome young man when we entered high school and had his sights set on the gorgeous young girl from Brazil.

They were head over heels for one another, despite the language barrier. I truly believe she was the love of his life at the tender age of 17. One day, she was coming to visit Scott at our house and was killed in a tragic car accident. Scott was utterly devastated and was never the same.

He should have sought counseling, but instead “sucked” it up and tried to move on. This is when the marijuana use began, which didn’t seem that startling since a lot of kids in high school were experimenting.

Fast forward a few years, Scott moved out to California. He followed my older brother and wanted to live the good life, and he did. He held very successful jobs in the gym business, loved living at the beach. Even more than that, he loved to party and hit the slots in Vegas!

He sustained a back injury and ended up abusing prescription drugs. He became a victim and it turned into the typical story you hear every day. I know some may not agree with the word “victim,” but he was prescribed much more than was needed by several doctors and became addicted. He was aware of his problem, but thought he could handle it.

My older brother in California tried for many years to help, but Scott didn’t think he needed it. After he was no longer able to get his prescription filled, he took a pain pill from his “friend” and it was a fake. He literally took the pill went into Starbucks, got a cup of coffee and hit the ground in the parking lot before he was able to get into his car.

Several witnesses watched him for a while

No one wanted to get involved.

Scott died on the curb at Starbucks.

I will forever wonder what were his last thoughts? Was he in pain? Was he scared? It haunts me to this day.

We hadn’t heard from Scott in two days, which was rare. My Mother knew something was wrong, I did too…but again, if I said it out loud then it would come true. My brother in California and my Mother called hospitals, police departments, all the Starbucks in the area

Finally, two days later my brother received the call and had to do the worst thing ever, break the news to all of us here in Virginia. I was the last one called.  I guess everyone figured I couldn’t handle the news.

I ignored all the calls that came in as I knew something was seriously wrong. NEVER did I imagine that I would hear those words, “Jill, Scott passed away” I was in the car taking my oldest child to church. I literally got out of the car screaming and grabbing my heart.

I thought I was having a heart attack, couldn’t breathe and felt like I was dreaming. My whole world came crashing down that day and I have never been the same.

It took us months to even have a funeral for Scott

We just couldn’t face it and kept it private to just siblings and grandchildren. The day after, I felt so helpless and heartbroken.

I had to do something.

This could not be the end.

Scott was a beautiful soul who volunteered at homeless shelters, gave money and food to people on the street. He didn’t always have much, but he would give to you. He was flawed, like all of us, but he believed in giving back. That’s just what a I did. I partnered with The McShin Foundation and started the Scott Zebrowski Scholarship Fund. All proceeds benefited those suffering from Substance Use Disorder (SUD) when they are seeking the help they so desperately deserve.

In addition, I visit the ladies in the HARP program at the Chesterfield County Jail that is headed up by Sheriff Karl Leonard. I mentor and listen to their stories, give them hope that they have been given a second chance.

Our family hosted the first annual “A Night for Scott” fundraiser and we raised over $28,000! We have the next fundraiser set for 2/16/19 and hope to raise $40,000.

I can grieve also help those suffering not go through what Scott went through. My goal is to erase the stigma, raise awareness and try to give back as Scott would want me to.

I have a story and I will share it as much as possible to help others.

 

The day after

 

13 thoughts on “Remembering Scott Neal Zebrowski”

  1. Jill, I am a follower of Anne Moss Rogers’ blog and when your guest post popped up the name “Zebrowski” caught my attention. I began reading the post with dread, hoping it was not related to the Zebrowski I taught with at CTC before we both retired. When I got to the family picture at the end I had my answer. Please convey to your dad, and the rest of your family, my condolences.

  2. Thank you for sharing Jill. I am so sorry for your loss. The work you are doing is amazing and such a beautiful tribute to Scott and the person he was. I remember all the shenanigans but mostly how he was just.. Scott.. hugs to you and your family

    1. Thank you for your response! Yes, Scott was a big character…lol…he was larger than life, but surprisingly quiet and deep at times. He really had a big heart and did so many good deeds while no one was watching. I loved that about him…people think they knew him, but I question did we really?!

  3. Scott and I probably made the most unlikely friends but I truly respected him. In reading this, we can feel your pain but also your strength. I too believe these types of testimonies help so many others know they’re not alone. God bless you and your family Jill.

    1. Thank you, Melika…you two were definitely hilarious friends…but he respected you as well…I feel it’s very important to get his story out to help others, it’s an epidemic and we need to wake up. Thank you for the sweet words friend ❤️

  4. Thank you for sharing Jill. ..many of us,are on this journey but perhsps for different reasons and outcomes…grateful for your allegiance with McShin…we need to tear down the silos in this community and come together as a united front. .peace, connie p

  5. Thanks for sharing, Jill! I have great memories of Scott from years ago and was so happy when we reconnected on social media. I always hoped I would get the chance to see him again. Having a twin brother and also turning 40 this year, I can’t imagine the feeling of loss and pain you and your family has gone through. Give your parents my love! And let me know how I can ever help with your charities/scholarships in Scott’s name. I would love to.

    India

    1. Thank you for your kind words, so very sweet. You know the bond that twins have firsthand, it’s unbreakable! Please follow our All for Scott Facebook page for upcoming events and info about “A Night for Scott”, we would appreciate any help you can offer. Hope you’re well…
      ~Jill ❤️

  6. Thank you, Jill, for sharing your brother with us. His death is heartbreaking but you are a beautiful soul for reaching out to others in your grief, to honor Scott. ❤️

    1. I feel like Scott is guiding me and wanting me to help others through his story…I will continue to honor him and fight for those struggling…

  7. Thank you for sharing your story! More people need to understand what Scott went through and what you have experienced. Substance abuse disorder affects so many. Your story is important.

    1. Thank you! This was incredibly hard for me to write, I’m very protective of Scott and how he is remembered. I know his story will help so many ❤️

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.