Teresa Boston took the painful steps on Wednesday to mark the end of a journey that her son Isaac started but didn’t get the chance to complete.
“When I would drive and I would see the kids, because I’d have to pass Saugus every day, I would cry because it was like, my boy was supposed to be there,” said Teresa Boston, mother of Isaac Boston.
On Wednesday, she accepted Isaac’s honorary diploma at Saugus High School’s graduation. She said she considered not attending because she knew how painful it would be.
As she returned home with Isaac’s diploma in her hands, she found something that she didn’t expect from the ceremony – closure.
“To know that he wasn’t here, but he still made it. He still got his diploma and to have him know that, ‘Mom, I wasn’t there but you stayed there for me, and you took it,’” said Teresa. “It was a special moment. It was so special.”
“It almost kind of gave me closure because I’ve struggled with still accepting the fact that he’s not here.”
Isaac Manuel Boston died on Aug. 8, 2021, from a fentanyl overdose.
On the death certificate, his death is labeled as accidental. Teresa takes comfort in this label, as Isaac was so much more than how he died.
Almost two years later, Teresa is now ready to talk about her son’s death because it serves as a lesson: This can happen to anyone.
“That’s my hope, that I find purpose in why all this happened so that I can make a difference in sharing my experience with moms that are going through it because I am going through it,” said Teresa, “and make it something that we make aware, whether it’s going to the high schools and talking to colleges and say, ‘Kids, in this generation you just don’t know what can happen if you want to go and have a good time. You think you’re gonna go home.’”
Isaac was born on July 29, 2005. He grew up skateboarding and playing video games on his PlayStation, but his most valuable trait was his kindness that knew no bounds, his mother said.
“He was a people lover,” said Teresa.
Isaac was constantly there for anyone who needed it, she said, and he wanted to make sure that everyone was OK. He had an ear for anyone who needed to be listened to. He would stay up with people all night long just listening to what they had to say.
Teresa said that one boy shared with her that he was kicked out by his parents. He called Isaac and Isaac stayed with him the whole night because Isaac didn’t want him to be by himself.
Isaac’s heart even extended to strangers.
“Every time we saw a homeless person, he would say, ‘Mom, stop!’” said Teresa. “And it didn’t matter, he would give them his money, his food, even if he just had it, and he’d always just ‘Here,’ and he’d tell them, he always ended with, ‘God bless you.’”
“He poured his little soul in everybody that he came across,” said Teresa.
At only 15 years old he was so in touch with his own emotions, she said. When the world became too much, he would grab his skateboard, ride over to a hill in his neighborhood, climb to the top and meditate.
On Isaac’s 16th birthday, he chose to not to do anything celebratory and stayed home.
“I did what I did every single night,” said Teresa. “I walked in his room and I said, ‘I love you papa.’ He got up off his bed, because he was playing PlayStation, and he hugged me, and he said, ‘I love you too Mama, sleep good.’ And I said, ‘OK.’”
“That was the last thing until I got the knock on the door.”
That night, as soon as everyone in the house was asleep, Isaac had a friend pick him up and take him to a party.
The next day Teresa received a knock on her door. Opening it, she met the eyes of deputies with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.
They asked if Teresa was Isaac’s mother, to which she responded yes. Then they told her that she needed to call Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital as her son was found dead on arrival, but managed to be brought back to life.
“I remember being there (at the hospital) thinking, ‘Oh, he’s gonna wake up. He’s gonna wake up,’” said Teresa. “But he never woke up.”
Isaac went into a coma.
“I remember thinking, telling God, ‘Why would you bring him back only to take him from me? Why make me go through that?’ But I’m glad because I was able, before he was completely gone, to have a minute that he could hear me and be able to tell him how much I loved him.”
“But the last thing I said to him was, ‘Papa, if you’re having conversations with God and you want to go home,’ because his dad (who died in 2013 due to cancer) is also in heaven, ‘then I’ll let you go. I’ll let you go.’”
The next day Isaac was declared brain dead and died on Aug. 8, 2021.
Thirty-one people died due to overdoses in the Santa Clarita Valley in 2022, according to Carrie Lujan, a spokeswoman for the city, who has noted the number could be higher due to ongoing investigations.
According to law enforcement officials, since the Sheriff’s Department’s Overdose Response Task Force was formed in July of last year, it has received notifications regarding more than 140 suspected overdose deaths throughout Los Angeles County, at least 18 of which were in the SCV.
According to Drug Enforcement Administration agents, an estimated 25% of all street drugs now are laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl is estimated to be 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.
Teresa is glad her son’s death certificate says “accidental” because she says fentanyl overdoses are not a typical overdose. They are poison.
She shares Isaac’s story with grief in her heart to bring awareness that fentanyl is out there, and people may not even know it.
“These other kids, they think they know what they’re doing,” said Teresa. “They go out and they think they’re gonna come home.”
“I’m so grateful now that people are becoming aware that it’s not a joke. You can’t just go out there and think you’re going to come home because you just want to have a good time because you just don’t know what you’re taking anymore. You never know what’s going to be your last night if you do that. You’re Russian roulette.”
Even in death, Isaac’s giving spirit lived on.
“He was such a giver that I knew he would never say, ‘Mom just bury me,’” said Teresa. “It’d be like, ‘No mom, I’m a giver, and I care about people, so give my organs.’ So that’s what we did.”
Teresa received letters from the recipients of Isaac’s heart and kidneys.
In them, Isaac lives on.
Isaac’s life was cut short, but Wednesday’s graduation proved what Isaac was still able to accomplish after life, Teresa said. “He’s not gonna get married. He’s not gonna have kids, but I could say for this moment, I could say, ‘But he got his diploma.’ That’s a special moment.”