ST. PAUL, Minn. — When her son, David, went missing, Martha Wegner shared her anguish with the world.
David Wegner Hay, who had been struggling with addiction, had just graduated from a sober high school. But he went right back to drugs, and his family couldn’t find him.
So Wegner, who had written a book about the miscarriage of her daughter, dealt with this crisis in the only way she knew how: writing.
Wegner started a blog and published a letter to David every day. Her latest book, “Dear David: Dealing With My Son’s Addiction One Letter at a Time,” is a collection of those missives to her missing son.
“Writing the letters was just getting it out into the universe and letting it see the light of air, so that people could see the pain,” said Wegner, of St. Paul.
She never expected the response she would get from other parents of kids who were dealing with addiction. “Everyone kept saying, ‘This is my story.’?”
Hay, now 19, is safe and sober. But when he was on the streets, he had come across his mother’s blog.
“I absolutely hated it,” he said. “When you’re using, you tell yourself all of these stories and justifications, so you feel OK with living the life you’re living and doing the things you’re doing.”
But the blog told the truth. “It was showing me the thing I didn’t want to see, and it made it really hard to run after that.”
A year and a half later, he has nothing but pride in his mother for sharing the family’s story.
“I know it has been really good for her, and it is important to me to be able to help her use that to heal,” he said.
Hay joins his mother for book signings and talks. He has no qualms talking about a rough time in his life.
“If we’re able to turn something bad that happened to us into something that can help other people, then I think I’m obligated to do that, and I feel good about doing it,” he said.
Wegner is no stranger to sharing the darkest moments of her life with readers. Almost 20 years ago, she wrote her first book, “Embracing Laura,” about David’s twin, who died before birth. Wegner later penned a book of suggestions for talking to people who have experienced miscarriage, called “How Can I Help?”
Another book that she put together is a compilation of poetry written by her mother, who is suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
But the books about David and Laura are two emotional brackets on either side of 18 years.
“Both stories were very painful, so (writing them) was for getting support,” she said. “But also to let myself know that it’s real, and I’m still here, still surviving.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism. AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.