Being the parent of someone who struggles with serious addiction must be a living hell.
I’ll always remember Suzanne as one of the funniest people I have ever personally known. She could make me laugh so hard it hurt, and she could do so at unexpected times, and in unexpected places: like the supermarket. One time, for instance, she just randomly opened up a box of cereal in a grocery store on Wellington Street and fished out the prize to see if it matched the one in the picture on the box. When it didn’t, she went to the front and insisted on filing a complaint with the manager. Dude was so overawed by her righteous indignation that he actually went along with it. Never even asked about the open box. Never asked to see a bill. Nothing. It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. Still don’t know how she was able to hold it together. Suzanne was a comic genius.
Ever since I became a parent, I’ve had this terrible recurring nightmare. In the dream, my kid is lying down on the train tracks. And I can see a train coming. But I can’t seem to do anything about it. I scream at the top of my lungs, but no one can hear me. I flail my hands around wildly, but no one can see me. I try to run to him—try to save him from the train—but I’m always too far away. Sometimes I’m not fast enough.
One of my oldest friends died of a drug overdose last August. It occurs to me now, and only in light of her death, that being the parent of someone who struggles with serious addiction must be a living hell. In fact, to be a little more specific, it must be like watching your kid die in slow motion for years. On some level, you must know that that day is going to come, long before it does. You’ve gotta know that you’re going to get that call at some point. You can see that slow train coming. And you see your kid on the tracks. But there’s nothing you can do: nothing you can do but watch, helplessly, from a distance, and yell your fucking head off, in silence.
—John Faithful Hamer, From Here (2015)
Originally published at Committing Sociology. Reprinted with permission.