“I hope this book reaches out to people who have given up on their family members who have been trapped in drug addiction and can find a new heart for them to try to give them the love that they are so desperately needing,” says Ted Jackson, author of You Ought to Do a Story About Me: Addiction, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Endless Quest for Redemption about the life of Jackie Wallace. NPR interviewed Mr. Wallace and Mr. Jackson on Weekend Edition today
These reflections on questions without answers are contributed by guest blogger, Rick Rezek, who we thank for his commitment to our mission to connect us with the struggles of people with addiction disorder and the families and friends who care about them:
Just a few weeks ago, I threw my high school yearbook away. I did not know why I was keeping it. I have my dad’s yearbook, but my dad was a star in high school. I was not a star, not a jock, not a head, not a theater kid. Somewhere in the middle. I liked it there. Friends all over the school. I was more friendly than popular, which was fine with me. One of my better friends was Tommy. I am not sure he would still be a friend; 40+ years is a long time for any friendship. He picked me up for school in a VW Beatle. He let me drive on many mornings so he could finish homework. We usually talked trash and laughed the entire way to school. Some mornings we got out of the car in a classic cloud of smoke. Fifteen years after those glory days, Tommy was killed in a drug deal gone bad. Found shot dead in his car.
Tommy was the kind of person who told it like it was with conviction. His lectures were never boring. He could charm anyone and did frequently. Out of necessity, he was always devising ways to get out of trouble. In the group of kids in the middle, he was easily the most popular. After high school, he went to work at a job that could have been a career. He moved from pot to I don’t know what. We lost touch. There was an occasional unplanned run into Tommy. He was taking partying to a different level, addiction. I should have been more worried. Should I have done something more than worry?
During those fifteen years after high school, Tommy got married, had a son, went to rehab, relapsed, got fired, got into legal trouble, and on it went. His mom called me. His mom called my mom. His mom called the police. His dad helped him. His siblings disowned him. His friends changed from regular folks to mean people.
Two weeks after tossing the yearbook, all my sadness about Tommy returned. I got a message that Tommy’s son, Michael died of a drug overdose. How? Why? WTF? Thirty-two years old. Questions without answers.
I thought of Tommy’s mom, Michael’s grandmother. I don’t know any words of consolation for parents. But I tried. If you have to, you better try.
From Michael’s bravely written obituary:
“Addiction doesn’t discriminate and hides in the faces of people all around us. Its effect is damaging on the families and people who love them. Michael isn’t just another statistic or “another one gone too soon.” His heart was big. He was full of passion to live life to the fullest. He envisioned a bright future. Michael is a gift that the world lost and can never be replaced. The best way to honor Michael is for people who read this or knew him to think twice before you judge an addict. While an addict has to be willing to help themselves, it certainly takes the help and support from others too.”