It breaks my heart to be writing about losing another child I care about to a drug overdose… again.
Last night, I received a call alerting me to the fact that a dear friend of my son’s died at the hand of pharmaceutical drugs.
You could say that the strikes against him were many, and the stakes were high for a boy like him in a society that grooms kids with less difficult circumstances for incarceration in an epidemic school to prison pipeline, but this boy should never have been struck by that hand. No child should.
I met Shama soon after his mother told me that our sons had become friends at school. She was excited and relieved that he now had a friend like Chog… She held so much hope for their friendship then, but over the years, the ability to sustain it was eclipsed by bad choices and productive paths chosen—or not. When she and I had that first conversation, we happened to be standing outside of the funeral for another dear young friend who had died of an overdose.
My last conversation with Shama had not been easy. We talked about choices and actions and repercussions and vision for something better and the potential that lies in the luxury of a small town like this one… He always appreciated my straightness, even when it wasn’t easy to hear. He wanted to find the right path and make valuable choices… I know he did.
It’s not just one demographic, and it is not just one income bracket. It’s not just “that” community, or somebody else’s “dysfunctional” family, or the fault of one parent or another. It’s not just someone else’s medicine cabinet… or some other place to point so we can turn our heads back to complacency.
We can go back and forth about how horrible the drug problem is, or curse the drug dealers, or the government for the systems that keep us down.
We can ask, “What are we going to do?” a million times, but we need to take action.
In the same way a community has many different people with many different offerings, that action is going to take many forms. It is going to take more than treatment centers and lockdown, it is going to take more than heart to heart conversations, it is going to take more than scare tactics and statistics, and tough love and tender care.
And it is going to take commitment from all of us… there are many holes in the lifeboat, and we need more than a few open hearts and minds to figure out how to fix them. From what I can see, It is going to take creativity on all sides…
Time and time again, in the last five years, I have seen kids go into drug treatment centers and jail, only to be dropped back on the green, taking only a few weeks, days or minutes to make their way back down to the CVS bench. Interesting how the clinic that prescribed almost 10,000 scrips for oxycodone in a two year period, half of which were to people under the age of 23, closed almost 4 years ago, but the activity continues today, on the same block and goes unaddressed.
The rumors are flying, some people think it was Heroin, some think it was the first time, some think it was a slippery slope he was headed for. Some think it was one thing when he thought he had bought another.
Oh yes, the problem is deeper than just the choice to dance with hard drugs… Selling killer drugs to your peers or your juniors is bad enough, but when you pass one thing off as another and keep walking… Oh, it is a deeper problem than we think. When is one of our kids going to accidentally smoke a laced joint? Or has it already happened around the corner and we just haven’t heard?
I could spend hours comparing growing up in my generation to times today, but why bother, the situation today is dire, and we have to get here now. We must keep these flowers in the garden…
We have to provide more lasting opportunities for kids to fill time with creativity. We must give them more ways to engage productively.
We have to be there when they land. Isn’t that what we are pro porting when we say we want to stand in support?
Because the work is continuous and the need spans far beyond before and after treatment. And far beyond the mourning period when another child has been taken.
I want to honor the life in Shama’s heart and potential by being there for another child in need of support. Just being there to the best of my ability.
CREATING SOLUTIONARY IDEAS
Yesterday I was driven by the motivation to create another place for kids to go and be productive, but today, after losing one more bright light the drive is even stronger…
I invite you to enter into an immersive conversation about solutionary action. This is where my heart has been for most of 2015. I believe this is one avenue for solutionary potential… Join me?
Kids naturally don’t trust cops, and there is good reason not to. When I was a teenager in Woodstock in the 80’s, we had a weapon free Constabulary. They checked the door of every business in the hamlet, on foot, nightly and knew every kid in town by name. When they moved to official gun carrying policemen, no one would have noticed a change if there hadn’t been a to-do about it.
What I have seen in the last five to ten years is frightening, Woodstock police force has gone from a small-town force of local resident officers who grew up with us, or watched us come up, to a force of non-resident cops who don’t know any of us from a junkie on the bowery and they have tazers to go with the guns. And trust me, there is nothing creepier than watching a cop taze a young guy right in front of you, only to be told that if they look above the age of 14, they are wide open for a tazing.
There are (last I checked) only five remaining local officers on active duty out of nineteen, including the Chief who is rarely spotted out and about. And we have an epidemic spreading in our community.
What are they doing about it? And where do they begin. They have no idea who we are and how we roll…
Who are the other fourteen cops?!?!? I have no idea. In a small town like this one… no bueno.
Time for change. Our kids don’t stay young forever.
The weight of funeral costs, lost wages, is nothing compared to the toll of losing a son, brother, nephew, cousin, uncle, grandson…
No mother should outlive her child