Small World

I ran into Ashley at the grocery store, I hadn’t seen her in a while, she seemed okay, but as our conversation progressed it became clear that something was wrong. Turns out a good friend of hers and an acquaintance of mine  overdosed on heroin earlier in the week, and her, less than a year in recovery took it hard. We stood near the fruits and vegetables, other shoppers poking around, picking over the oranges, peeling cobs of corn and discarding some of the husks in the barrel the store had put there, and on the floor mostly, but those people didn’t matter, and if they overheard us we didn’t care, they were invisible to us.

Addiction and recovery are tricky things, baffling, crafty and relentless. One day at a time is the best a person who suffers from the disease can ask for. Relapse happens, and happens often, and the fear of it is always in the back of an addicts mind, especially when somebody close falls back into the cycle. A person goes far deeper than what they let us see, their thoughts hidden, protected and private. To peel back the walls and defenses is next to impossible if that person chooses to keep their true feelings and desires hidden.

Ashley’s friend knew what he was doing, and chose to keep that knowledge to himself, and because of that didn’t get the help that could have saved him

He had been doing well for six months, she told me, found a job and seemed happy. He spent some time with her the day he overdosed, and she knew something wasn’t right.od A person makes the choice to return to old habits long before they actually do so, and she just knew he was heading in that direction.  She did nothing, other than the obligatory “are you okay” things, and an offer to talk. He told her he was fine, and went about his business.

We did the usual dance, said the usual things, reassured ourselves that we really have little or no control over another person’s actions, and the best we can do is focus on the present, and try to help other people when they need it, or ask for help.  I wonder what she was really thinking when she smiled, and said she would be okay, and went back to her shopping list.

Her friend didn’t ask me for help either. It was too late for that.  He overdosed in Providence, on my watch. I found him dead in a car on Elmwood Avenue.

I left that little tidbit out of our conversation, she really didn’t need to hear that.

Small world.

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