Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Yesterday, I Attended the Wake of a Life Long Friend

Yesterday, I attended the wake of a life long friend.

You hear someone say this and you think of years of weddings, parties, holidays, your children playing together, decades of commitment and memories.

The problem is, I am only 36.

In the past two years, four of my friends have died. These men were all in my age group, all interesting and fantastic in their own ways. Not one of them (minus one with a young son) got to build a family, spend an afternoon on the floor with their baby and a stack of wooden blocks, have their friends shower them with love and bubbles upon turning away from an officiant to face the crowd, hand bonded to someone who made them genuinely, deep down happy. My friends have died because of an epidemic sweeping New Jersey, permeating suburbia, causing young men with futures to lie, to disappear like so much air.

It's the vicious path; take the painkillers, run out, have less money to spend,  take the blue pills, run out, have less money to spend, snort the heroin, die.

I've watched what this does to families. I've seen my friends cry over so many less years than we all deserved together, over lost opportunities at family barbeques and rocking chairs on porches and satisfaction.

Yesterday, I attended the wake of a life long friend.

The one sentence I heard more than anything else was, "How could I help him when he wouldn't admit what he was doing?" You see, the issue is with the "open secret." We all know he's doing it, but when we confront him, he lies to our faces. Not maliciously, you see. An addict doesn't really understand how those lies will kill them. It's just the way to get to the next fix without having to listen to a bunch of bullshit about how they're hurting themselves. So, if you say, repeatedly, "Please, stop doing this. I know what you're doing. We all know what you're doing," you expect a reaction. Maybe some tears, some attempt at redemption or explanation. Instead, you get, "I'm fine. Stop worrying about me so much. I'm not going to do anything stupid."

That's what my life long friend told me a month ago, when another friend of ours died of an overdose. "I'm fine. Stop worrying about me so much. I'm not going to do anything stupid."

Yesterday, I attended the wake of a life long friend.

How many of you out there suspect that someone you love is abusing painkillers? Taking pills? Doing hard ass drugs that they warn you about in high school, the ones you see people in movies taking and you wonder,

How could they let it get that far?

Because listen to me. If you don't do something, if you don't stand up, if you don't stop taking no for an answer, they will die. I've seen it. I've seen too many photo collages, too many crying mothers, too many young men blubbering over of the caskets of people they grew up with. This isn't going to end well.

I'm pretty sure there are others in our circle still doing this. I can't prove anything. All I have is second and third hand information and fear loading up in my belly like bricks.I'm currently taking no for an answer.  But I'm ready to make this shit stop. Let's save our friends. Let's help the cops find the people who are killing our friends.

I have to do something before I'm the only one left standing.