Captain Lee Rosbach has become an integral part of the Below Deck series. He is the embodiment of a tough boss. Captain Lee has high expectations and leaves little room for error or coddling of his crew. He is respectful but tough on his team, and we’ve only seen him emotional when Ashton Pienaar narrowly avoided certain death last season.
Maybe it’s easy to forget that Captain Lee is also a family man who has vulnerabilities and tragedies as well. In July, Captain Lee shared the heartbreaking news that his son Josh, 42, passed away from a drug overdose. At the time, Captain Lee posted a moving statement on behalf of himself and wife Mary Anne. It was poignant message of love for their son. Now, nearly three months later, Captain Lee is ready to share Josh’s story.
In an interview with Page Six, Captain Lee revealed details about Josh descent into addiction and how he has been coping since Josh’s passing. “Josh was a normal teenager up to a point. We moved a couple of different times. Those moves weren’t easy on Josh. I think he had some [obsessive-compulsive disorder] problems,” Captain Lee said, “he was very anxious. And I think that maybe contributed to him finding something to self-medicate with, because he found it difficult to go to a doctor and talk about it.”
In addition to self-medicating for his “obsessive-compulsive disorder,” Josh was also prescribed painkillers when he broke his feet in a car accident. Captain Lee thought that “certainly compounded” the situation.
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Captain Lee described watching Josh struggle with addiction. He said, “For 20 years, every spare dime that Josh had that didn’t have to go into paying bills or something like that, went to drugs. And they turn into recluses. They don’t socialize with anyone. They don’t go out. They’re embarrassed in social situations. You’ll have them at a family function and all of a sudden, they’ve gone missing and you don’t see them for 10 or 15, 20 minutes, and all of a sudden they reappear. ‘Where did you go?’ ‘Oh, I had a phone call to make.’ And you know what they were doing. You’re just powerless to stop it. We spent 20 years, every night, waiting for the phone call saying either he was in jail or that he was dead.”
At the time of his passing, Josh’s life seemed to be changing for the better. Captain Lee explained that Josh was off painkillers and heroin for six months and, “he’d been doing well. We thought this time was the time we turned the corner. He had a DUI conviction about 12 or 13 years ago that he finally got off his record. He’d got himself a car. He was working. We thought we might have hit a milestone.”
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Tragically, Josh was not able to maintain his sobriety. He overdosed on what appeared to be prescription opioids but were, according to a medical examiner, counterfeits laced with cocaine, heroine, and Fentanyl.
Captain Lee revealed that he was the one to find Josh on July 22nd at his home in Fort Lauderdale, FL. “I walked in and he was sitting on the sofa with his head in his hands, and I thought he had just passed out,” he said, “I felt relieved. I thought he was fine. Then I went over to give him a hug, and he was cold. He’d gone.”
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“He was such a loving child, and guy. His sister would be having a bad day, so he’d drive by her house and drop a little note with a smiley face in the mailbox and just write on there, ‘Love Josh. Hope your day’s better tomorrow.’ There wasn’t anybody that knew him that didn’t realize he had an unconditional love for life,” Captain Lee shared, “he took a beating from a world that he never intended any harm to whatsoever, as most addicts do.”
Captain Lee has been relying on work to keep his mind occupied. But there is no relief from the pain. He explained, “I hate going to sleep, and I hate waking up. There’s a hole there that can’t be filled. And the person who said, ‘time heals all wounds,’ is full of it. It doesn’t. The only thing that time may do for you is allow you to learn the skills you need to cope with the situation that you’re dealing with. As parents, you’re not designed to bury your children.”
He added, “The hard times for me are the alone times, when I’m on my own. Those are hard. I don’t laugh a lot any more. Things aren’t too funny. Once in a while something will slip in, and it feels good whne it happens. And it gives you that glimmer of hope that you can get through it.
Captain Lee shared plans to fight the opioid epidemic but explained that he is not ready yet, “I don’t want to start something, then not be able to finish it.”
He is still processing the emotional fallout of Josh’s passing. “There’s a lot of guilt that comes with something like this, “Captain Lee said, “what if I’d gone over to his house sooner? What if I’d done this? What if I’d done that? I should have made his life easier. So you carry around a tremendouse amount of guilt. And then you have to stop and realize that you can’t prevent the inevitable.”
Captain Lee hopes that other grieving families can find some solace with his words. He concluded, “that’s my endgame right now, because I can’t do anything else for my son right now. He’s gone.”
Thank you for sharing these words, Captain Lee.
[Photo Credit: Bravo]