Submitted by Brittany Keyes, Nathan’s former partner and mother of their daughter
Nathan cared deeply for those he loved
He loved the outdoors — hunting and fishing. He was softhearted and genuinely wanted people around him to be happy. Nathan’s favorite thing to do was to spend time with his daughter, Gracie.
Nathan was a good dad
My most vivid memory is the day Gracie was born. Once she was born, I looked over to see tears rolling down his cheeks. He was in awe of her and kept saying how beautiful she was. He was so afraid to hold her at first, because he said she was so little. After the first time he held her, all he could think of was his little girl. He always said Gracie was his little angel.
Nathan was playful and fun. Gracie loved to play in the backyard with him — she always looked forward to that. The last Christmas he had was spent with us — he came over and stayed the night to be there when she woke up in the morning. That’s a special memory I hope Gracie will have.
When we first met, I didn’t know about his addiction
Nathan started using drugs in middle school and was introduced to heroin when he was 16. I found out one morning when I woke up to him with a pale face and blue lips. He had used sometime before I woke up and accidentally overdosed. Luckily, he was able to be saved that time.
I remember going to the hospital after, and once the rest of his high wore off he became angry, trying to take his IV out and telling everyone he was going home. After that, he opened up to me about his drug use for the first time.
Our relationship began to resemble a roller coaster as he struggled with drug use. From there on out, I always knew when he was actively using, because he would become distant — he didn’t try to see our Gracie, and he sometimes became angry. Occasionally, we would reach a high — be happy and laugh together while he was sober — but the moment he relapsed, we would go speeding down to a low point of arguments, lies and hiding things.
Nathan fought the disease he had several times, several ways
Nathan used many different methods to fight his opioid-use disorder. He went to multiple rehabilitation centers, lived in sober-living facilities out of state and used inpatient local services. He tried medications therapies like suboxone and methadone and attended Narcotics Anonymous meetings. While incarcerated, he utilized rehabilitation programs, too. He even had an opioid-blocking implant at one point in time. He fought this disorder for nearly 10 years.
Explaining Nathan’s struggle to Gracie was difficult
When he would go to rehab, or jail, I would tell her that he had to go away to get better. It’s hard to explain such a complex thing to a young child, and I don’t want her to think he was a bad person, because he wasn’t. She was 6 when he died, so her memories are vague, but she talks about him and misses him.
Nathan died on a Thursday, but I didn’t tell Gracie until Sunday. I needed that time to process and think about how I would tell her that her dad was gone. It felt like the best way to tell her was to say this: Sometimes when people get sick, they have to go to heaven.
If I could say one thing to him
I miss you and don’t blame you for what happened. I’m slowly starting to understand addiction and how hard the battle was inside you. I forgive you. And, even though it breaks my heart every day, I’m glad you have some sort of peace now — no more demons to fight.
Nate was a dear friend of mine. Nate had a heart as great as Texas. If you had his favor you were blessed. When you left Nate you felt better than when you came. What a pleasure it was to of known him.
When we departed from each other we would say “I love you brother”. A sincere hug was never out of place. Me and Nate had so many good times. For a while we were religiously visiting King’s Pizza for the lunch special. We ate alot of good pizza there together. I miss those face-to-face conversations.
I don’t know what to say about the addiction. All I know is that it pulled Nate away from us and it seems so unfair. Many wounds heal but to lose Nate the pain does linger. He was the kind of guy that just made life better. I plan to see Nate in Heaven. We’ll be able to laugh about all the hard times and we can build on the good memories that I cherish. Love you brother!
Nathan Staubs…… Where should I start….. He was the sweetest most kind hearted person / young man I have ever met in my life!!! We had alot of fun together ❤ Nathan was my first real boyfriend / serous relationship!!! We were very young….. I was 16 he was 15…..Nathan didn’t use drugs at all during our relationship!!! We both had been through quit a bit of rough times in our life before we got together!!! I remember our time together like it was yesterday….. he had a truck when we first got together and when he lost his truck he got a motarized scooter!!! He would pick me up on the scooter and we would ride all over shepherstown!!! We would go on dates to Tommys down town Shepherstown and get the best stake and cheese subs ever!!! We spent a lot of time at his mother Renee’s we helped her clean and organization stuff at her home and she paid me and Nathan for helping her!!! We stayed there alot!!! After saving some of our money we bought bikes and we would ride the bike trails acrossed the bridge and down by the river!!! I remember going on a tractor trailer run with Nathan and his step dad Arnold!!! We had so much fun!!! Arnold stopped in ever state going north of here so I could buy a key chain!!! We went all the way up to Maine traveling through 7 states!!! Another fun trip we took to Delaware to visit Nathans grate grandfather….We got to go to the beach while we were there!!! There were so many horseshoe crabs on the beach that we went to it was crazy!!! That was an amazing trip as well!!! Nathan was so happy and so was I…… we always had fun together!!! We were inseparable!!! I can say Nathan Staubs was my first love!!! He treated me like I was the only girl on earth!!! I blame myself a lot for Nathans drug addiction he didn’t start useing until we broke up!!! I know I broke his heart when I broke up with him!!! It broke my heart too!!! I was young and didn’t know what I wanted!!! We spant entirely to much time together!!! Every wakeing day , you didn’t see one of us without the other for over a year!!! We were to young for that kind of commitment!!! But like I said before we both had already been through a lot in our lives and felt like we needed to be with each other all the time to stay happy!!! I was a little older then Nathan and realized that us being together as much as we were was very toxic…..when I started distancing myself a little it hurt Nathan and caused him to start drinking again and doing things that the Nathan I knew didn’t do!!! It hurt me to stay away from him for good but when I heard that Nathan was using drugs I knew I could never go back!!! Addiction runs in my family and that would make our relationship even more toxic!!! The Nathan I knew….. the funny , loving , kind hearted and sweetest guy ever was hiding behind the demond of addiction it was slowly taking over him!!! I never in a million years thought that something so horrible could happen to someone so perfect!!! Not perfect as in no flaws or faults but perfect as a person to ME atleast!!! Yes Nathan had anger issues with other people , struggled in school and gave his parents a hard time he was a troubled teen!!! With me he was perfect …. Honest, Caring and Loyal…. I couldn’t have asked for a better first love!!! I feel horrible for not keeping atleast a friendship with Nathan maybe, just maybe he would still be here!!! I tell myself everything happens for a reason!!! …. I Wish I Could Have Helped You!!! ? P.S. Your Daughter is Beautiful by the way she looks just like you!!! I hear that she has a heart of gold just like you too!!! P.S.S. To. Gracie your father was an amazing person!!! Very kind and good hearted Im glad you got those trates from him keep being the awsome beautiful young lady you are!!! Never forget that your father is watching over you every step and big adventure in life you will take!!! I’ll always pray for you??