From the earliest moments of my childhood, I was happy. My parents provided everything I needed and then some. Pretty typical childhood I suppose. Parents were good ones. No issues. No addictions. Instilled healthy values and morals. My problems began when I turned 15. I didn’t get to go to the high school that I thought I’d be going to because they changed the boundaries going into my freshman year. So to get to know people and fit in I started smoking weed. And what do you know – it worked. Because it worked so well that’s all I wanted to do. Meanwhile, I’m still excelling in sports, lettered in varsity baseball to wrestling freshman and sophomore year. But the intensity with which I was experimenting with drugs grew and grew. To the point I was missing school and practices. So finally the coaches had had enough and kicked me off the teams. Then I just proceeded to do more drugs. It was the only thing left that I was good at. Fast forward 17 years and I’m about to get out of prison.
February 9, 2021 finally came, I thought I had learned from my mistakes at this time but at the first chance I got I was getting high under the 40 highway bridge. Barely two hours had passed since being released. Couple of days had passed and by this time I’m feeling a tremendous amount of guilt and shame, they had become constant companions throughout the last 17 years. Those couple days turned into a couple of months. I’m doing any drug I can but mainly heroin and meth. I’ve struggled immensely with heroin for a long time, I’m constantly getting sick. Always sore. I just figured I was dope sick. Which I was. Little did I know my body was fighting a severe blood infection. My body was literally being eaten away from the inside. My addiction overruled rational thought. I knew this couldn’t be regular dope sick. I can’t explain how much physical pain I was in, I couldn’t walk. I had to go to the bathroom wherever I was. I’m throwing up everywhere. Finally, I managed to get to St. Luke’s Plaza Hospital, where I collapsed outside. They came and got me in a wheelchair. My hand and arm are extremely swollen. So, they admitted me immediately for surgery. I go through many blood tests and surgeries. While recovering from severe infection in my hand and arm, the results of the blood cultures come back.
I’m in the hospital, by myself, on the run from P&P, scared, alone, and in a lot of pain. It’s nearly 8 am on April 17, 2021, my door opens and it’s not just my regular doctor coming to see me but a team of about five or six. A couple hospitalists, a couple infectious disease, and a couple cardiologists I get the usual run down from my regular hospital and infectious disease doctors. Which is a lot at this point. When those four doctors looked at the other two to continue is when I knew something was up. The two cardiologists introduced themselves and told me I had a severe blood infection that was everywhere. They then told me I had endocarditis and that it was eating away one of my valves in my heart and that it was growing exponentially because my valve was not closing all of the way. Then, he said “Mr. Tarr, you’re going to need emergency open heart surgery immediately to save your life. You will die if this is contained and replaced immediately.” I thought my heart was going to stop right then and there. I’ve never been so scared or alone in all of my life. They told me I was extremely lucky I’d made it this far. I did the only thing left I could do at this point – pray to a God I didn’t know. I asked Him to save my life. I told Him I needed Him. I had to have a relationship with Him. I didn’t want to die. It was a miracle I was still breathing. I called and told my parents what had just transpired.
This is where the details and the timeline of events get very fuzzy and I later found out my parents came to see me under the belief it was going to be the last time. The day before my heart surgery, the surgeon’s nurse came up to visit with me. He introduced himself, asked how I was doing, and simply wanted to have a conversation with me. He asked if it was okay if he prayed with me. When he left, I knew in my heart that God had answered my prayers and sent me a friend and brother in Christ. Ron visited me in my room every chance he got. He was the last face I saw before I went under anesthesia and one of the first I saw when I awoke. I was in an excruciating amount of pain. They replaced my right tricuspid valve. One of my first thoughts after waking up was “maybe there is a God. There has to be.” Ron and I’s conversations grew longer and longer. This man helped me realize there are still kind and beautiful souls in the world.
After one of our talks, he mentioned that he had a friend he wanted me to meet. I agreed. So the next week he introduced me to the next kind, beautiful soul I now have the pleasure of calling a friend – Tim. Tim and I share our stories together, cry together, and laugh together. All was quite painful, physically and emotionally. I now truly believe God had placed these two men in my life for a reason.
Tim and Ron both told me about a place called the Healing House. They told me it was a safe place I could go where my mind, body, and soul could not only be healed but SAVED. I knew instantly that this place was for me, because it’s obvious what I do doesn’t work. I then proceeded to call Melissa every Friday while I was in the hospital for almost two months. I would tell her how my rehab was going and how I was doing. I could immediately tell Melissa was different. What I mean by that is, even through our phone conversations I could tell how much she genuinely cared about my well being. She told me that I was to come into Healing House on June 7, 2021. The first thing I remember hearing was “Welcome home, Ben. We’re glad that you’re here.”
Over the course of the next couple of months, I began to see huge changes in my life. But it wasn’t until I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior that I felt peace and joy in everything I did. Looking back now, I can see God has never and will never leave my side. It was I who left Him. All I had to do was open my heart, mind, and eyes to see, here, and feel the miracle that He performed. He placed these people perfectly into my life so that I could follow in His light. He rekindled the fire in my soul. He has given me blessings after blessings. My family is there for me, but more than that I get to feel their love again. Most importantly, I love myself again.
It’s been 17 years of pain, grief, and sorrow I’ve endured. All of it to be taken away like it never happened. I can’t begin to express how proud and grateful I am to have joined Healing House’s ministry. God and the Healing House have helped me accomplish things I never thought possible. Every single person I’ve met since I prayed to God, alone and desperate in that hospital room, has had a perfect purpose and role in my life.
I now know God is real.