Note of gratitude to Mercer Island | Letter to the editor

Note of gratitude

This is a note of gratitude to Mercer Island for its support of the loss of William Patterson.

In late July, I lost my son Bill to an accidental drug overdose. It was a case of fentanyl laced oxycontin (M-30s) that is killing 100,000 U.S. citizens a year, primarily teenagers and young adults. I wanted to write a letter to somehow thank the Mercer Island community for seeing Billy’s mom, brothers and me through the initial part of the loss of our son. I want to put this into some sort of abbreviated narrative.

For ease of exposition, I think it is best if I list a partial list of what members of our community have done for my family in the aftermath of the tragedy:

1. Arranged for cremation

2. Created and published elaborate programs for the celebration event

3. Set up the Mercer Room at the Community Center along with table clothes and memory tables

4. Hosted stations that served beer, wine and soft drinks

5. Created elaborate spreadsheets detailing every possible task to be done for Bill’s celebration of life

6. Spread the word of Billy’s loss to influential teachers, many of whom showed up

7. Created a memorial Facebook page

8. Developed an amazing slide show

9. Contacted the MIHS and UW drumlines to play at the memorial

10. Created a pot luck dessert table, and 11. Many contributions that happened without my awareness or that I have forgotten in my grief.

Next there is the Mercer Island Community Center. I had a window of three weeks to set up a Celebration of Life for 300 people. The staff at the Community Center did the following:

1. Arranged a date at the center within 30 minutes

2. Loaned an electric piano for no cost

3. Directed us to a wonderful caterer out of a list of four they provided

4. Were constantly available on short notice for advice about banquet licenses, serving beer and wine, allowing drumlines, and the use of overflow space

5. Had a staff that dealt with us with incredible kindness at every step of the way, and stayed late in the night to help us out, and 6. Provided state-of-the art facilities with a beautiful venue, AV connections for a video show, a catering kitchen with an ice machine, a huge parking lot and location that is so close to the intersection of I-90 and I-405 that you can walk there!

The Mercer Island Reporter immediately published an obituary with a color photograph of Billy and everything we requested. Then, reporter Andy Nystrom reached out to Billy’s mom and me and wrote a beautiful article in the Reporter about who Bill was, and also detailing the risk of dangerous opioids.

There are so many ways to thank the community for softening the blow of Billy’s death. I have no question that I have missed many of you in this letter, and please forgive me for that. The presence of his cherished teachers that showed up for his event in person, or online, brings tears to my eyes. The flowers, cards, dinners and offers to help are beyond comprehension.

The loss of my son Billy has convinced me that deciding to move to the Mercer Island community is one of the greatest decisions of my life based on the community response we found to be overwhelming. I am posting a link to Bill’s Celebration of Life:

David Patterson, Mercer Island