Knowing the insidious darkness that can take over the mind of an addict(using or sober) far too well, I can only imagine the degree of pain that he must have been in to justify taking such lethal doses of pharmaceuticals. That mental torture chamber that we can trap ourselves in seems to never end some days, and for far too many their suffering is unfathomable.
I arrived at church that evening in strong spirits, anticipating the greetings from friends I knew were joining me. But, after only a few shorts minutes I knew something wasn’t right with them, and eventually the news was broke to me. My eyes began to flood with tears. “Do you remember that friend you went to meet up who was really struggling?”, pausing to take a deep breath, my friend turned to his support system beside him, looking for even a subtle nod of assurance that it was the right thing to tell me, “well, he unfortunately passed away today and I felt I needed to let you know as soon as I heard………I’m really sorry”.
Doubt was first to rise, as I questioned the source through which they were informed. Anger quickly followed behind, asking for reassurance that we were in fact speaking about the same person who I had connected with only a few days prior. The reason for such disbelief was the fact that the last time we spoke he was in such strong spirits, even though he had just recently relapsed, temporarily defeated but far from disrepair.
This incredibly bright, young, golden hearted man was one of those unfortunate people who never seemed to fully grasp recovery, despite his best efforts. The baffling disease always seemed to overpower him as relapse after relapse took more and more of his life from us. I sit here today with over five years clean and feel somewhat disgusted with myself that the death of another hopeless addict hardly registers an emotional response within me. The loss of life is said to be one of the most difficult things we will ever have to face, and yet, the impact on me time and time again is far too minimal. I have become numb and use to the notion that many of the people I sit with in meetings will no longer be here to share life with me next year.
As a child I distinctly remember a neighbour who took his life by hanging. Although my connection with this person who had seen me grow into adolescence from birth was negligible, and could be summarized as a surface level relationship to the extreme, I was still gravely shaken up by the traumatic event. I even remember taking a day or two off school because the reality of death struck me so hard that week and I was paralyzed by the fact that I too would die one day, and so would my parents. Today, many chapters and years later in life, I have just lost someone with whom I have shared such intimate and challenging details of life with. I connected with this man on a vulnerable depth that many people may never get the opportunity to experience, and you would now think that I would be in complete ruins over this loss……..but I’m not. I have grown mostly numb to the fact, and sit in this inhumane belief system that states”this is normal…this is okay….get use to it….there are many more to come”.
I will attend his celebration of life tomorrow, with many other individuals who share a similar numbest that we have all sadly habituated to. But I choose not to live in this subdued acceptance any longer, it just isn’t right. I won’t stand for his life to succumb as a meaningless statistic that we gawk at in the obituary columns. I won’t tolerate the view that many people hold towards drug addicts or alcoholics either, as stigmatized weak individuals who just should have been smarter with their choices in life. And I most certainly won’t use this event as an excuse turn to depression over this great loss to our community, but will use it as fuel to help me reach more and more people, shedding more light and hope for the disease of addiction.
Matt, I only wish you knew and felt even a fraction of how much you were loved, will be missed, and will never be forgotten! Your worth was, is, and will forever be immeasurable. Rest. In. Peace.