I’m crying tonight as I write this. A night out for pizza has become another lesson in the hideous tragedy of addiction. I live in a beautiful small town, Franklin, Tennessee, that I’ve often described as a real-life Hallmark movie. And yet, our children are dying. I’m tired of it. The stories, the babies left behind, the grieving parents and grandparents.
In spite of the tragedy of a genetic disorder that is slowing taking my daughters mobility, I still get to call my children, talk to them, and watch them make a mark on this world. Tonight I met the father of one of my oldest child’s high school friends. There were three of them: my kid and two other girls. Now mine is the only one alive. Both heroin/fentanyl deaths: one leaving a beautiful blond boy behind. His beautiful mother is now just a black and white photo on someone else’s Facebook page, a memory of happier times.
I spoke with Toby Mac not long ago. We share too much in common. His song, 21 Years, says more than I have the capacity to artistically share. None of it makes sense. We live in a lovely antebellum town that offers families all of the advantages—low taxes, great schools, friendly neighbors, amazing churches, safety. But there is a demon loose in our community. That demon is addiction. This enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. It has taken much from my family in a very personal way.
But there is hope and help. There is an AA and Al-Anon meeting that gathers right at the end of my street on most days. My husband and I helped start a Celebrate Recovery program at my church, Grace Chapel, and there are many others in the area. But the demon is out there searching for another young life to rob from someone who doesn’t see the danger and who believes they will be fine if they chase that high just one more time.
I do what I can personally and professionally. I’m blessed to work with a few companies — CHESS Health in Rochester New York, Owl Insights in Portland, Oregon and a new relationship, PsychHub, right here in Nashville. These organizations are standing in the breach, leveraging technology and education to find ways to get more people into treatment, keep them in treatment, reduce relapses post treatment, and give friends and loved ones hope that there is the possibility of a bright, meaningful future in sobriety.
But tonight I am brokenhearted after speaking to a sweet man who lost his daughter, a man who cares for his five-year-old grandson and can’t understand how this all happened. We have two children that went to school together. I can still see them laughing on a playground in the sunshine in this beautiful town where I live. I don’t know why I get to call my daughter to talk this through and cry just a bit, yet he does not.
My heart goes out to everyone suffering in active addiction and those who will forever mourn the loss of their loved ones. I will continue to work every day to make a difference in regard to this scourge, and I will grieve with my friends and neighbors. I will also ask God to protect the children who feel hopeless and helpless against this disease… one day at a time.