Disheartened. Depressed. “Why bother, Joani, you are working at a losing game. Whack a mole, that is it, that is what you are doing.”
Do I believe in what I’m doing, interventions, to get people into treatment for their disease?
I am just plain sad and discouraged. My sweet (sometimes pain-in-the-ass friend) is gone. She answered my tweets often. She was the kind of person who stayed in touch. She took selfies with everyone she knew. Did she know her short life was going to need to be chronicled? Did she leave us gifts of pictures? Her singing voice had a range and beauty that literally made you stop and listen; it was so good that if you did not see her you swore it was someone streaming from a playlist. Then you would turn a corner and there she was, usually sitting on the floor, legs crossed. Her guitar, as it turns out, was gently weeping.
My last selfie with me was a month preceding her unintentional death at a mutual friend’s wedding. Her life was taken by a disease few comprehend, even those who have been in its vise grip. Addiction.
A monster is roaming this earth—strong, altered heroin, laced with fentanyl and ketamine. Fentanyl is a potent narcotic; ketamine is commonly known as an elephant tranquilizer. They combine with heroin to make a powder keg of unpredictable strength. The people who are making this aberrant form of heroin not only don’t have an FDA approval stamp for the dosage strength, they apparently have no morals. So addicts are rolling the dice as their disease overrides the rationality in their hijacked brains and they snort or inject the poison and they fall asleep. The brain stem that is the control center for vital functions in the body slumbers as well, shutting down respiration, and the person with no oxygen circulating through his body to supply all organs with necessary air drifts off to death.
The “heroin epidemic” is so much larger than me that I have faltered in my desire to fight it. It looms tall with a huge knife pointed at my neck. It laughs at me, “I won, Joani, I took your friend.”
But that was yesterday. A day of disbelief, tears, and grief.
Today, you son of a bitch, I will continue to hunt you. If enough of us play whack a mole, maybe we could win. Maybe, probably not.
But remember the Jewish proverb that came to the forefront of our modern recognition when a war raged, when another monster was roaming the European continent and murdering millions: “When you save one person you save the world entire.”
I will not give up, no matter how big the knife. In fact, my dear monster, you have ignited in me a bigger urge to carry on in my mission to save that one person. I laugh back at you. You are in fact stoking the flames of all of us in this fight against your poison . . . to cut your throat.
The last song I heard my friend sing was “Good Riddance.” The words now ring in my ears as a harbinger of what was going to be her fate:
Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right
I hope you had the time of your life.
It was her life’s journey, I do not know why. I do know I will miss her.