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Gone Too Soon

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By Jonathan Clink – Collegiate Staff

I always liked to think of myself as a hero figure. Always ready to throw myself between approaching danger to protect my friends or a defenseless stranger. But I could not save my friend. I had forsaken him for his transgressions.

Act I 

Everyone has at least one friend who loves to party. Some of the craziest party animals ironically come from the most serene upbringings. I had a friend from childhood, way back to the point where you don’t really remember not being friends. He grew up in a stable home, lots of love, went to church, and was homeschooled through sixth grade.

My friend loved to party. He started smoking weed at 13. This was spurred in large part by the grief he felt from losing an older brother in a car accident, with whom he had a special bond. His brother was hit, driver’s side, late night driving through a blinking yellow, by a driver who drove through a blinking red. Needless to say it was a major turning point in the family’s storybook.

My friend wasn’t just some kid who liked to party. He was smart as hell. This kid was a half decent computer programmer by the time he was nine, making computer games with another brother, a few years older.

Fast forward to 2016. I am in the process of buying a house and my friend has recently moved back from Colorado. We had spoken in the past about him renting a room in my house. He had informed me he was moving away from drugs which made me comfortable living with him. The process of closing on the home had many delays. The actual move in date was further delayed through the foolish decision of allowing the current tenants to remain in the home for a few months after closing, but that is another story.

I finally got possession of the house on a Friday night after midnight. We both walked through the house together dismayed by the messiness of the previous tenants, yet very, very excited to finally be there. We spent much of the next week cleaning and moving in. After a few weeks most of the mice were killed. One morning my friend found that one of our mouse traps had killed two mice in one catch. We celebrated like we had won the mouse hunt championships.

Within the first couple months my friend introduced me to one of his friends , who was looking for a place to live. Getting along with our new roommate was made easier give the face that we were both big hockey fans.

Act II 

It was a Friday. I was on my way over to my friend’s house. Saturday was his bachelor party and we were going to further celebrate by playing computer games late into the morning. I stopped at my house after work to grab my laptop. There were two friends of my friend, who the story revolves around, in my house when I got there – who I assumed were waiting for him to get off work.

One of them was in the kitchen and I introduced myself to him and asked him his name. He paused for several moments before responding. I noticed he was opening a box of scalloped potatoes looking for potato chips. Most likely drunk. I put the potatoes back in the pantry.

I packed up my gear and headed upstairs to let my roommate know that I was heading out for the night.

“You need to take care of this before you leave,” he told me. He went on to explain that the two people in our house were very high on an unspecified substance. In addition, they were making lots of noise. He had also caught them multiple times in our friend’s room while he was at work rifling through his things.

I tried to call our friend but he was not picking up. I went to talk to the guests in the home. The other guest was now eating butter off the stove as I spoke to her. She was eating some with a fork and smearing some on the stove. We just wanted them to leave and.found they had a lot of their belongings spread out in one of the spare rooms as though they were moving in. We told them they had to stay in this room and not do anything disturbing until our friend got back from work and they could stay here for now. Moments later we found them trying to get the doorknob to our friends room to cooperate.

After a few more attempts from the male to enter our friend’s room we informed him that it was time for him to leave. We escorted him out of the house. The female asked us where her friend was and we told her we kicked him out and she ran outside to him, concerned. Naturally, we locked the door behind her.

We decided it was time for their belongings to be out of the house as well. In the spare room their were several syringes and needles spread on the floor. Using gloves, we put everything in boxes and bags and put it all on the porch.

They were sitting on the back porch after many warnings to leave. We called the cops. When I showed them where they were, they asked where the girl was. She was just here moments ago. Another cop shined his flashlight on the roof and spotted her. She was trying to break into an upstairs window.The cops let her in that window and escorted her through the house.

As they walked her down the stairs she was behaving childishly, unwilling to walk. On the stairs she allowed herself to fall but was already being held by the police officers.

“Oh come on, walk,” the officer told her.

“I never do anything right,” she replied.

“Yeah. Don’t do heroin,” the officer replied.

He looked at my roommate, who told of the officer having a bit of a smile as he said this. The whole situation was both comical and disturbing.

The unwanted guests were taken away as trespassers after they were provided medical attention.

Twenty minutes after the police had finally taken away the two heroin addicts, My roommate and I finally sat down on the couch. Finally, starting to relax after having eaten, we prepared for one of our skillful battles in NHL on the Xbox. In the midst of selecting our teams for the contest, there was a strong knock on the door.

It was a police officer asking if this was the residence of our friend and we were concerned he was in trouble for something. The officer informed us that he needed to speak to his parents and that he had had a drug overdose at his work. Our friend was currently in the hospital.

I made the phone call to his older brother and let him know what happened. Immediately, I went to the hospital. He was unconscious and on a breathing tube when we were able to enter the room. I was up that night at the hospital with his brother. On the whiteboard I changed the date to show a few years from now as a joke to cheer him up a bit. The doctors were trying to induce him to sleep through the max dosage of a sedative drug but he was still waking up. As he began to wake up they kept telling him to just focus on breathing. I was pumping his hand with mine in a way that simulated lungs inflating and deflating. He wanted the breathing tube to be taken out. Thankfully, they had just removed the breathing tube before his mom got to the hospital.

The next day, after many hours of street hockey, for my friend’s bachelor party, I checked my phone and had several missed phone calls and messages from my roommate. I called him. The two unwanted guests from earlier had come back to the house. Nathan physically fought them off from entering the upstairs window. He had called the police who had taken them away. Twenty minutes later they brought the female back who claimed she lived in our house. The officers would not believe my roommate when he said she did not and wanted to speak to me. She thankfully said something in the conversation that had given away the fact that she was lying and they took her away.

My friend came back to our house two days later. I spent a decent amount of time with him and he at first expected to be evicted. I beat him in tennis in an outing at the park as things began to normalize. Within a few days, however, I gave him a seven-day eviction notice for the incident. I had spoken a lot to people I knew who had knowledge on the drug heroin. Heroin is a drug that is very hard to break an addiction to. If you research the side effects, you will see that it is physically impossible to break the addiction through willpower. It normally required at least a three-month rehabilitation period. I presumed that further incidents would occur and that he would not break the addiction unless he attends a rehabilitation clinic. By evicting him I was forcing his hand to get help.

A few days later my friend overdosed in his room. Paramedics took him to the hospital. He was in the hospital for the last couple days of the eviction and moved in with his parents briefly before going to a rehabilitation center for a month and a half. The second heroine overdose had an effect on his brain that resulted in him losing the entirety of many months of recent memories. He had no recollection having lived with me.

My friend was unapologetic about the first incident and the second incident. He was rude to his parents during this time and failed to see the way in which his actions impacted other people. He was angry with me for evicting him and saw it as an act of betrayal. I read this as my friend not being a true friend rather than a friend blinded by his addictions. The facets of life that a person sees as precious become unimportant as a powerful addiction places the substance as top priority.

Act III 

My friend came back from rehab and was staying with his parents. We texted off and on, periodically. He never apologized for any of the situations, but we started to get in contact again about our lives over messaging but never fully reconnected. There was still a rift between us that neither one of us was fully taking the initiative to mend. I had heard he was doing well from family and friends and had returned to his joyful old self.

About a month after his return my friend died of a drug overdose.

I was angry with him for doing this to himself and hurting his family. I was angry with myself for harboring anger against him. I was sad for my lost friend. I felt guilty for not being there for him through the time that he was trying to finish the battle with this addiction. Every action has a reaction. I frequently consider that if I reacted differently, maybe he would still be alive.

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug or substance abuse, visit AccessKent resources at accesskent.com/ Health/SubAbuse/ default.htm

Addiction Treatment Helpline: 888-966-8152