We Saw It Coming

Today’s Daily Prompt is prophecy, and once again I find myself wondering if The Daily Post is doing just that with its prompts. While normally I am happy to sit down and allot an hour of my day to reflecting on a prompt and how it relates to my journey, today I’m going to take a detour with this one and write about something very different.

While I could talk about the many prophecies in the Bible, or about how receiving a diagnosis is like receiving a prophecy of one’s future; instead I’m going to share a personal story with you. It may not be easy to read, but I feel now more than ever this kind of story – and the millions like it – need to be told. They need to be remembered, and re-told, over and over and over again, until we no longer have any need to do so.

Late last night, my fiancée received the phone call she, and her family, had known would be coming. Her little cousin, the baby of their family, had been found dead in a friend’s apartment (with said friend also deceased) of a drug overdose. She had been in and out of rehab for years, and had been in a rough place recently. She had everything to live for. A beautiful daughter, parents who would move heaven and earth for her, and a supportive family who had been with her every step of the way. No one is sure why she chose to go out that evening, lying about her whereabouts, and prompting a police search – only to find her body, and not her.

This is a reality for millions of families just like my wife-to-be’s. This is a story played out time and time again, year after year, decade after decade. It is the story of beautiful, but wounded, souls in need of compassion and care, and of heartbroken families left to pick up the pieces after the tornado of tragedy decimates all they knew. It is the tale of addiction, and there are only two possible endings in this kind of Choose Your Own Adventure: recovery, or death.

When I met my fiancée, her cousin had been in a stable place. She was fresh out of rehab, had gotten a job, and was being allowed weekend visits with her daughter. She had chosen to renew her baptismal vows, and her entire family had gone to attend, flying in from as far away as Colorado and California. That year, at the family reunion, I heard the hushed, hopeful voices whispering: “Maybe she’s finally done it. Maybe she’s really going to be okay now.”

It would be six months later that she would overdose in her bedroom during a visit with her daughter, and her daughter would be running into the living room of the home she shared with her parents, crying, and saying, “Mommy’s eyes are rolling into her head!”

It would be a year and a half later that she would be back out of rehab, with only supervised visits permitted with that same daughter, and at the family reunion that year, I would only see sad eyes, and the whispers would be, “She will be the one we get the phone call about.”

That was the phrase I heard over and over, from my fiancée, her family, and even friends who knew this cousin. She will be the one we get the phone call about. The tone was always resigned, always sad; there was a degree of helplessness there too. She would be up, and then she would be down. She would stabilize, and then she would be falling off the bandwagon. Rehab stint after rehab stint, each longer than the last, and the discouragement when her parents would see her off one more time.

And now, she is gone. The prophecy has been fulfilled, to the heartbreak and devastation of this family left behind. Addiction has claimed another life far, far too soon. A little girl will grow up with too few memories of her mother, and a mother will have to bury her daughter when she should have been planning her retirement. Gone are the hopes of a wedding, more grandchildren, and a life full of promise. Gone, after “one last time”.

In writing this, I hope to add this story to the countless others that stand as grieving witness to the tragedy that is addiction and recovery. I hope to add another cautionary tale to the catastrophe that is “just once”. Most importantly, and with great sadness, I hope you will see that prophecies can be fulfilled, even when we would give anything to go back in time and re-write them.

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