My Lessons on Love, Life & Loss

A Memoir by Stacey Caputi Liakos

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Chapter One

There was nothing like working on the 6 o’clock news. It was the most important newscast, and tonight was no different. All hands were on deck. The newsroom was bustling. All the editing bays were being used. The main news anchors were diligently reading and rereading their scripts. Producers clacked away on keyboards. Police and fire scanners spewed all kinds of activity.

The phone rang off the hook on the news desk, followed by, “ABC 6 News, how can I help you.” 

I lived for this; loved every minute of it. I’d just turned 22 and was a full-time news editor, camera operator and all around pre- and post-production know-it-all.

A successful internship, hard work, and a little luck had landed me a full-time job before I even graduated college. That was the kind of over-achiever I was. 

I saw the job as my foot in the door, a way to get experience before I became a news reporter, and then a news anchor. In the meantime, I wanted to learn all aspects of the industry. Anytime they needed help with something or offered me other opportunities, I was open to learning.

When you’re getting ready for any live news broadcast, time ticks by fast and you never know what news will break. It was already 5:30. I was reviewing the rundown, making sure things were in order for the broadcast. The studio lights were on, rundowns were being passed out, news tapes were being delivered to the news office, cameras were in place. As I was helping to reorganize the beta tapes on the rack, a startling image caught my eye; a mugshot of someone I’d met through my boyfriend, Ray Ray. The guy had been busted for ‘possession of drugs with the intent to sell’. 

 He looked so different from how he seemed when we hung out together; mean and malcontent instead of friendly, happy and smiling. 

 “Hey, we’re ready to go,” a co-worker said. “Do you have everything set?”

I couldn’t answer her. Ray and I had been seeing each other for a few years by this point, but I’d never fully appreciated how he could easily end up on the 6 o’clock news. Every day, we covered stories of drug busts, young lives ruined, opportunities squandered, potentials shattered, families destroyed as a result of engaging in reckless, illegal activity. 

And Ray Ray sold drugs. What made him different from the guys who got caught?

Until that point, in my youth and naivety, I’d acted like I was invincible and nothing bad would happen to disrupt my life. Bad things only befell other people. Seeing his drug dealer’s mugshot broke through my illusion of security. It was suddenly obvious just how vulnerable Ray was. If he didn’t change his ways, it’d be only a matter of time before I reported his arrest.

I became aware of my co-worker still waiting for my reply, and realized I didn’t know how much time had passed. I glanced at the clock, my heart pounding out of my chest. I needed to get out of there for a minute.

“Uh yes, sorry, all good. Sorry, I have to go to the bathroom,” I blurted, dashing into the hall.

I couldn’t dial Ray Ray’s number fast enough. He picked up on the second ring. “Hey what’s up?”

“Oh my God, did you know Dwayne got busted!?” I whispered. I wanted to scream and yell and cry, but lucky for him I was at work where anyone might overhear. 

“What do you mean? How do you know?” He asked.

“What do I mean?! I mean Dwayne got busted! Something must have happened. We’re running a story about a drug bust.” 

“Wait, what?” he interrupted.

“His mugshot was just plastered on the monitor in the newsroom.” I was speed-whispering. It was almost six. “I gotta go: I have to operate the camera for the show. I’ll call you back.” 

I hung up and bolted to the studio, slowing my pace as I entered – acting like everything was fine. I picked up my headset and framed my camera. This would be the longest 30 minutes ever. 

No way! My man got busted? But, that’s what happens, right? People who sell drugs get caught. I saw it often: I worked at a news station. Is Ray Ray next?

My head was spinning, and I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Truth was, that sick feeling had always been there; I just usually chose to ignore it, just like I’d chosen to enter this relationship knowing exactly who Ray Ray was. He never hid it. It’d only been me who hoped or thought I would change it. 

But, as my mother always said, a leopard can’t change its spots. One of Mom’s million corny clichés: but the woman is always right. 

“Well, that’s it,” I decided. 

I was determined to give Ray an ultimatum: it was either me or drug-dealing. I couldn’t live like this anymore. It’d been OK when I was 18, but the older I got, the more I knew it was wrong, and the more questions I had to answer. It was time to grow up.


About the Book

In the shadows of crime and addiction, a story of love and loss emerges, illuminating the power of the human spirit.

Stray Love: My Lessons on Love, Life, and Loss, an emotional autobiography by Stacey Caputi Liakos, delves into her true story of young love and devastating loss. It’s a memoir that intimately explores her relationship with Ray, a drug dealer whose life is entrenched in crime and drug use. As Stacey’s dream of love turns into a nightmare of abuse and addiction, she faces the harsh realities of a broken heart and the perilous world Ray inhabits.

This nonfiction narrative poignantly captures the impact of drug addiction on their relationship, illustrating the destructive interplay between love and substance abuse. The book chronicles Stacey’s journey through immense personal growth and self-healing as she confronts the devastating loss and death of Ray due to his addiction.

Liakos’ story is a testament to perseverance, offering a raw and honest look at the challenges of loving someone battling addiction. It’s a journey of emotional turmoil, resilience, and the human spirit’s capacity to heal. “Stray Love” is a compelling read for those interested in autobiographical accounts of personal growth, addiction, abuse, and the journey through loss and self-healing.

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stacey bruce and michael  posing for photo