I don’t believe we ever officially met and I know now we officially never will.
You and I were actually scheduled to meet today. Your name is still neatly nestled in my calendar for the 10:45 am slot. I still have your application in my work bag. I still remember what you typed into the essay boxes. You were to interview for a training program I’m coordinating, a program that is designed for young people in recovery who want to learn how to support other young people in or seeking recovery. You wanted to use your experience to help others. I was looking forward to meeting you.
“—— will not be making it to their interview, they passed away over the weekend.”
This is the message your Mom delivered yesterday. She called to notify us that you died as the result of the very illness you aspired to combat. I cannot imagine being your Mother; I cannot fathom what making that phone call must have been like for her. It took me much of the day to even wrap my mind around the idea that yet another person who was looking to help others access and sustain recovery had in fact lost their way themselves.
Nearly 25 million Americans and their families are living with a substance use disorder, with 114 Americans dying of a drug overdose every day, while over 23 million Americans and their families are living in long-term recovery.
Sometimes the line between which group one is a member of gets extremely blurry and way too thin. While there are many strategies and resources that can help thicken the line and increase access to initiating and sustaining recovery, the side we stand on is never fixed and permanent. You were one of the 23 million Americans in long-term recovery at the time of submitting your application before the holidays. You have since joined the numbers that represent all of the individual human lives and family systems adversely impacted by addiction challenges. You were going to help bring individuals and families over that line but have instead now forever crossed back over it yourself.
I don’t know you and your story. I don’t know what happened and I never will. All I do know is that you will forever hold the 10:45 am slot of January 7th, 2015 in my calendar and a spot in my mind. You will always be the appointment that didn’t happen because you are a possibility that didn’t happen. You are a reminder that those of us in recovery from a substance use disorder are chronically near that blurry, thin line and you are a reminder of how all of humanity must always look to clarify and thicken that line. We must always strive to ensure that more individuals and families not only cross over the line into recovery but that they have access to all of the resources and supports that they need to stay there. You are a reminder that our personal recovery must always come first. We must always ensure that our wellness is intact and our recovery is stabilized before, during and all throughout our service to and advocacy for others. You, and 10:45 am on January 7, 2015, will always be remembered.