Thursday, August 4, 2016

This One Hurts

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the plague of overdoses that have been inundating our area. Today, sadly, another fatality was added to the count. And this one was someone I knew reasonably well; she had dated, for the better part of a year, a guy I was good friends with for some time and even ended sponsoring for a short time. I found out about it from him today (he, after his own relapse and incarceration, has opted to start over in a community in western New York and is doing well there, at least until today), after hearing it from her parents, and he was totally devastated.
As was I, and almost everyone that heard about it. I am told that she actually was at an AA meeting Tuesday night; her parents found her dead when she didn't get up Wednesday morning. I cannot think of a more painful scenario than one of my children dying; under these circumstances, I would quite possibly lose my sanity. She was just 25; she had struggled in recent years, but had seemed to be doing better in recent months.
Even as someone that suffers from the disease of addiction, I am having an increasingly difficult time understanding the attraction of this type of drug. And there is something out there now that is very deadly. I'm not an expert, obviously; I've never used an opiate in my life. But I have seen and helped revive someone who is overdosing on three occasions in the last six weeks, and I have heard of several others who were lucky to survive, too. And at least five, in the last five weeks, have not, and the true number is likely higher. There is a good part of me that simply doesn't understand what rush, what high, could be worth risking death for. My most recent ex, who was two of the three revivals, tried to explain it to me,  but failed miserably; and my most recent serious ex doesn't do much better (although she has not OD'd in two years, and to my knowledge has not been using recently). I see the increasing number of deaths, and I wonder what can be worth it. I view the damage that the drug does to those who don't physically die, but might be better off if they do; I have seen what it has done to another ex, and I don't think a NKVD torture team in Stalin's time could have done a more brutally effective job in destroying what was once a vibrant woman alive with the possibility of a new life unfolding in front of her.
I don't get it. I mean, I do; I am an addict myself, and I understand better than the average reader will. But this is turning into a war zone here. And even my most recent ex had a remarkably cogent moment of clarity when she said that if she found out she had cancer, she would fight it with all her might--so why can't she do it with heroin?
Especially since heroin has the capacity to kill in minutes. I am beyond, at least today, beating the dead horse's ass that is our county executive. This is something more insidious, more deadly, more puzzling--and more horrifying. For some reason, I had a vision earlier tonight of a Hunger Games projection into the clouds of faces of the dead. I have been clean for nearly two decades, and heroin was not my drug of choice--and I know of at least twenty people that have died of overdoses in the last couple of years. Where does it end? How does it end? Can anything be done? Is this a conflagration that needs to burn itself out, or is this an underground coal fire that will burn forever?
I don't know. All I know that I have another wake to attend, and another sad obit to read, and another hole to fill, another seat in the rooms that will never be filled again. Another set of parents, friends, siblings grieving, aching for a response from a God who is no doubt weeping, too. We have become cannibals of our own, unwilling to confront on any meaningful level the epidemic, and also those unwilling to stop dancing with the devil. I cannot fathom either the choices made, nor the depth of pain being felt by their loved ones. \
And one sort of vulture is already feeding. I certainly am not in the mood to hear any moralistic preaching and sitting in judgment on the dead. If one cannot summon up any compassion under these circumstances, if you cannot keep your sulfurous need to feel superior to others to yourself in this time of tragedy, then you are a failed human being and I have no further desire to ever be in contact with you again.

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