I bet at least ten kids who grew up along and with my own kids have lost their young lives to overdose or addiction in the past three or four years. One kid who grew up across the street from us was shot in the chest and killed by another guy in a local bar after an argument. Totally senseless.
At my high school, the worst thing anyone ever did was smoke cigs on the designated smoking grounds or a little pot in their car or use fake IDs to go clubbing in Underground Atlanta, when the drinking age was eighteen. The Stoners hung out with their own hippie friends but were basically good people. I can say for sure that no one ever did Heroin...yet today's kids are falling victim to it right and left. A kid who used to spend the night at our house with Zach when both were in elementary school just died from a Heroin overdose a few short weeks ago.
He was a good kid from a good family. Addiction doesn't discriminate.
When I worked at Mama Lucia's in Newnan before working at the airport, I worked with one of the cutest, brightest young guys who was from a great family. He had a great personality and we had a blast working together. I lost touch with him after he quit working there.
Do you know how shocked I was to hear of his overdose from Heroin a year later? I wouldn't have imagined that happening to that bright of a guy in a million years, but it surely did. I also can't imagine how his mother survived that much of a crushing devastation. I'm not sure I could.
When Zach was in high school he lost at least five classmates to addiction. That simply boggles my tiny mind.
When I think of Heroin, I think of the late sixties and seventies along with the likes of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix or John Belushi...not high school kids from Coweta County who grew up along side all three of my own children.
I'm not sure what these kids were thinking, if they were at all. I have heard that the high is instantly and intensely addictive.
When the latest kid died this past week or so, I immediately sent Zach a text. Just checking in and to tell him how sorry I was to hear about Joe's tragic death. He sent back this exact text:
"It's okay Mom, that's one thing you never have to worry about with me."
While that was very comforting to read (and believe him) it also made me realize how extremely lucky I have been with all three of my children.
I've always been a little (lot) more than annoyingly persistent when it comes to what my kids are doing and who they are doing it with.
You need to.
You have to.
When my Mom Radar gets a ping on it, I'm all over it and don't let go.
When Zachary got into trouble at the age of eighteen, he took the fall. We didn't swoop in and rescue...couldn't have even if we'd wanted to. It was during a time when we were broke as jokes. I wish I could convey to you how hard it was for me to watch him be sentenced to thirty days in the county prison. I was crushed and pretty sure he was scared shitless. I got him out on work release every five days when my wonderful boss hired him to work in the kitchen. He got strip searched every night when I took him back. Longest thirty days of my life. Biggest lesson Zachary ever learned.
I'm not saying all these parents weren't diligent, but you gotta watch for signals and know when to play that Tough Love card. And even if these parents didn't have a clue...someone did. Maybe a neighbor or a friend or another relative but surely someone knew these kids were in trouble and headed for more. That's when it's your duty to step in or at least tell someone else to. The community you grow up in is your extended family and we all need to have each others back.
I suppose this seems easy for me to say since none of my own kids (Thank God) have gone down this rocky road, but someone, anyone...who even has the tiniest inkling of maybe a possible problem should be all over it...and not stop until they are stopped.
One thing I've learned from raising kids is to never ignore but instead implore. Snoop around if you must, it's better to have your kid mad at you than to not have your kid around anymore to be mad at you.
Yes, once again I'm one of the lucky ones. Just heard today of another loss...thirty one years old.
These kids are our future and to save our future, we have to save them.
If you ever even suspect something is wrong or off with anyone or just doesn't seem right...speak up and speak loud.
I'm pretty sure it should say "you're" but you get the drift. Pissing someone off is better than having to cry at their funeral.
Til next time... a Concerned Cotton