Jennifer Alba sifts through the boxes of photographs and documents. It’s a collection of what once was, and what her life has become. A mother sorting through pain.
There’s her son, Joseph, as an infant, smiling, dressed in a onesie with his bright blue eyes matching the blue backdrop. He was her firstborn, a gift who came into her life when she was just 17.
Not too far away lies the document from a middle school recommending that he be suspended for the last few weeks of school after being caught with marijuana. He was 13.
It was the start of a lifelong struggle with drug abuse that his mother desperately wanted him to break. Over the next 16 years, Alba says, her son spent dozens of nights in jails, cycled through nearly 20 stints in rehab and served two prison terms.
Alba pulls out a bank receipt for a deposit her son made in late August 2017. At 29, he was a DJ who played music at dive bars and strip joints. A good haul was 100 bucks a night. But this deposit was for more than $33,000.
She shakes her head.