Submitted by his mother, Aimee Manzoni-D’Arpino
What Emmett was like
Emmett was my sunshine, my firstborn. He loved adventure and was an avid BMX biker, snowboarder, snowmobile rider and all-around thrill seeker! He was my daredevil from the time he could walk. He was always jumping off of things.
Emmett was an amazing student, well-spoken and very polite — the kind of boy you wanted to come pick your daughter up for a date.
He didn’t have a big circle of friends, but once you were in, you were in for life — he was loyal and loved fiercely. He met his lifelong best friend, Alex, in second grade, and they remained best friends while going to different private high schools and different colleges, and through Emmett’s struggles with substance abuse.
Emmett was the best big brother
Emmett’s younger brother Zachary looked up to him, and his younger sister Alice absolutely idolized him. As far as Emmett was concerned, the sun rose and set for Alice. They had a special bond, and even though he was 10 years older, he would pick his younger sister up from school just to take her to the playground and for ice cream. Zachary and Alice even snuck up when he was having his senior photo taken and got right in the picture.
His proudest accomplishment
Emmett won academic scholarships to his private high school and then to Worcester State University. He didn’t have one subject he liked more than others; he liked them all. He was an avid reader. He loved Stephen King books and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Emmett was a true adventurer
Emmett would want to be remembered with his bike — he spent countless hours riding it. He saved up to buy the frame when he was in fifth grade and built it himself, and then continued to fix it up over many years. It was the one possession that he held on to right until the end. We also put it on the front porch of the funeral home where we held his memorial, and his little sister has it now.
Emmett made so many amazing friendships because of BMX biking. He had adventures that brought him from New Hampshire to Florida to Pennsylvania to North Carolina, traveling with friends to check out indoor bike venues and skate parks. He went to an action sports camp called Woodward in Pennsylvania — after camp ends, the best kids are tapped to stay for an extra week for free. Emmett was one of those kids.
Drugs became part of Emmett’s life in high school
Emmett experimented with marijuana in his sophomore year of high school and then was completely substance-free during his junior and senior years. However, within days of arriving at college, he started using drugs. Within six weeks, he was offered heroin at a party, and within three months he had his first overdose.
How our relationship changed
It became more distant, because he pulled away from family and isolated himself in an effort to hide his opioid use. My love for Emmett never changed.
Our last moment was a hug two months before he died. He stopped in to see me while I was running a cheerleading practice. It was the first time I had seen him in over two months. It was only five minutes, but I am so thankful for it.
Emmett died of an overdose
Emmett went through two detox inpatient programs. His struggle was very short — 18 months from first use to fatal overdose.
When Emmett’s dad and I drove to the hospital after his fatal overdose, we decided on the way that we would never hide what he died from. All of these young kids were dying suddenly, and no one was talking about why. We decided to talk about it because this can be such an isolating time for so many, and it doesn’t have to be.
If I could say one thing to Emmett now, it would be
I would tell him I love him one last time. That knowing everything I know now — knowing every struggle — I would choose him to be my son a million times over. Nothing he could do would ever change that. And I would tell him I’m sorry I didn’t know how to do more to help him.