NAPA, Calif. (KTVU) - A heart-crushed Napa mother who laid her son to rest last week is sharing his story with hopes it will help save someone else's life.
Amanda Poole Krueger’s son, Giancarlo Baldini died on Dec. 16. It was a heroin overdose that killed him.
Krueger said her son died alone in his bed in the apartment he shared with his girlfriend.
"He was the absolute sweetest the light of my life. He was just born sweet," Krueger told KTVU.
At his funeral on Jan. 7, the 19-year-old was remembered as a beautiful son and a young man full of love, who cared so much for others.
Krueger first shared her story with KTVU's Frank Somerville just days after she lost her son. She said she wanted others to know about "the ugly truth of drug addiction," with the goal of removing the social stigma surrounding substance abuse.
In the depths of her grief, letting others know about the disease that cut her son's life short was all she could do, she said.
"Please use my son’s story," Krueger wrote Frank. "Please help me warn parents that this is out there. Even in Napa. Please help me help other families. Please, please, please. It’s all I can do now."
In sharing his story, Krueger said she does not want to sugarcoat what happened.
After learning that he was using heroin in the summer of 2017, the mother said the family intervened and got him help. They sent him to a $45,000 rehab program for a month and a half. He then underwent an intensive outpatient program and then moved onto a sober living house in Mill Valley for a year.
As far as she knew, he had been clean for ten months. He had gotten on his feet, secured a job working with Marin County's Department of Public Works and was planning out his future.
The last words she heard from her son was, "I’m okay mom I love you too." The following day, she learned that she had lost him for good.
By speaking out about drug addiction through her son's story, Krueger wants people to understand that heroin abuse can hit any family.
In a memorial video that Krueger shared with KTVU, a teenaged Giancarlo is first seen playing the guitar and then the video fast forwards to quick shots of various moments in his life. Then the video starts all over again showing him when he was a chubby-cheeked baby, adored and surrounded by loved ones.
It goes on to chronicle his life as a son, brother, friend, and boyfriend, putting a very real face to heroin addiction and demonstrating its power to put an abrupt end to a young, vibrant life.
Giancarlo's mother said her son did not show any outwards signs that are often associated with heroin abuse. He was kind, never raged out in anger toward her, he never stole from her, checked out, or disappeared for days. Heroin addiction does not discriminate against age, race or socio-economic status, she said.
"Heroin doesn't care if you're young or old. If you’re rich or poor. If you’re black or white," she said.
The mourning mother said that her eldest son was her best friend and to his 6-year-old brother, he was everything.
"He promised to wake up on Christmas Eve so they could look for Santa together," she explained. But that never happened.
She said her husband was the one to deliver the news to her youngest, explaining, "Giancarlo had an invisible disease that made him sad and he took medicine that the doctor did not give him and it made him very sick and he died and went to heaven.”
The response that came from the child was what was described as "a gut wrenching scream that didn’t sound like it could come from a six year old."
Since she first shared her son's story, complete strangers-- people from all over the country have reached out to her on Facebook and thanked her for her courage and "outspoken honesty." Many of them are parents who have shared tears and their own stories of loss. Some are going through addiction themselves or have a child struggling with drug use and said she's made them feel that they are not alone.
Krueger said the pain left by her son's death is unbearable, overwhelmed by the never to be fulfilled desire to touch him and embrace him. "The only way I can explain this pain is that every cell in my body that created my son is on fire yearning to hold him again. It’s a physical pain I feel only a mother would know."
And each passing day, it seems to only get harder. "I miss him so bad it takes my breath away... My sweet boy," the grieving mother said, "This shouldn’t have happened."
On Facebook on Sunday she shared a message which she received from an old friend of her son's. In her post she wrote, "for those of you that are wondering why I’m being so open about my son's addiction, THIS IS WHY."
The friend offered his condolences as he remembered Giancarlo as caring and funny, and he reassured the mother, "His death will not be in vain. I know it’s a fight to get out of bed these days but know that there are hundreds of us fighting with you. I won’t let this happen to another friend. Next time I will be there. Next time I will keep in touch no matter what. Next time there won’t be a next time," the friend wrote.
The friend called Krueger "an amazing mother who raised an amazing man" and said he knew her son was watching over all of them with love, and he added these words of encouragement: "Get up and spread the word that this is an issue that demands attention like you have been. Keep pushing through life for him."