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The Below Deck captain previously shared that his son had struggled with addiction for the past 20 years. However, he told Page Six that prior to his passing, Josh had really turned his life around. “He’d been doing well,” Captain Lee said. “We thought this time was the time we turned the corner. He had a DUI conviction about 12 or 13 years ago that he finally got off his record. He’d got himself a car. He was working. We thought we might have hit a milestone.”
But when Captain Lee drove over to Josh's Fort Lauderdale, Florida home on July 22 "to check on" him, he discovered that he was gone. Medical examiners later told the family that Josh had relapsed. “I hate going to sleep, and I hate waking up. There’s a hole there that can’t be filled,” Captain Lee shared. “And the person who said, ‘time heals all wounds,’ is full of it. It doesn’t. The only thing that time may do for you is allow you to learn the skills you need to cope with the situation that you’re dealing with. As parents, you’re not designed to bury your children.”
Of course, Captain Lee's life has been forever changed. “The hard times for me are the alone times, when I’m on my own. Those are hard," he said. "I don’t laugh a lot any more. Things aren’t too funny. Once in a while something will slip in, and it feels good when it happens. And it gives you that glimmer of hope that you can get through it.”
Captain Lee will always remember the love Josh put out into the world. “He was such a loving child, and guy. His sister would be having a bad day, so he’d drive by her house and drop a little note with a smiley face in the mailbox and just write on there, ‘Love Josh. Hope your day’s better tomorrow,’” Captain Lee recalled. “There wasn’t anybody that knew him that didn’t realize he had an unconditional love for life. He took a beating from a world that he never intended any harm to whatsoever, as most addicts do.”
Captain Lee told Page Six that he plans to help fight the opioid epidemic, but right now he's hoping to help others whose loved ones struggle with addiction by opening up about Josh's passing. “There’s a lot of guilt that comes with something like this. What if I’d gone over to his house sooner? What if I’d done this? What if I’d done that? I should have made his life easier,” he shared. “So you carry around a tremendous amount of guilt. And then you have to stop and realize that you can’t prevent the inevitable.”
He added, “That’s my endgame right now, because I can’t do anything else for my son right now. He’s gone.”
Captain Lee recently shared on Instagram that he will be taking part in the 14th Annual Sallarulo's Race for Champions in Fort Lauderdale in memory of Josh, raising money for Special Olympics Florida. The family previously honored Josh's philanthropic spirit by asking that in lieu of flowers, donations in his memory be made to the Humane Society of Broward County.
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