ST. ALBANS — A hummingbird with his name and death date, May 10, 2017, are inked onto his mother’s shoulder blade.

The dog tags from his years in the U.S. Army hang around his sister’s neck, with his ashes encased in resin on the front.

John Thorpe

John Thorpe poses at mixed martial event.

John Thorpe, of Georgia, may have passed away at the age of 31 from an overdose of heroin, fentanyl and Molly, but the memory of him — his loyalty, his positivity, his energy for life — lives on in his family.

John’s parents, Mary and Bob, and his sister, Jaime, were by his side for 12 years of drug use and nearly five years of sobriety. And they were there to pick up the pieces after his death.

His three-year-old bullmastiff and pit-bull mix Kane, car, photos, and letters from recovery went to live at Jaime’s house in Swanton.

His sobriety chips, associate’s degree of arts from Montgomery Community College in Maryland, military uniform, and belts and trophies from mixed martial arts fights stay at his parents’ home in Grand Isle.

These tokens serve as reminders of his struggles and his successes.

Eight months have gone by since his family heard the news, giving both Mary and Jaime a new perspective.

When it came time to write John’s obituary, they wrote, “passed away unexpectedly,” unsure of what to do, what to say.

Now, the Thorpe family is ready to share their story, of how they lost their son and brother to heroin, how addiction can impact anyone, including a middle class family from Franklin County, and how, at the end of this, if they can help other families going through this struggle, it might be all worth it.

For the Thorpe family’s full story, pick up a copy of the weekend Messenger or subscribe to our digital edition.