War Against Drugs
6 years ago today, I lost my childhood best friend to a heroin overdose. He was the funniest, most caring person, he always treated everyone around him with love. He loved music, the outdoors, and his dog Bruce. We had such a blast together growing up, especially during the summers. He was more of a rebel than me, always causing mischief. I was more of a girl-next-door type, so we were quite opposite of each other but we got along very well (for the most part, lol). I still to this day have his phone number memorized…
I’ll never forgot the day I found out Johnny was gone. I hadn’t spoken to him in about a year because his exgirlfriend had forbid him to see me and we sort of lost touch after that. The funny thing is, I drove by his house a couple of days before and thought to myself that I needed to go see him. In hindsight, I wish I had just stopped by right then and there, because at least I would have gotten to see him one last time.
When I first found out, initially I was in shock and denial, I couldn’t express any emotion and I didn’t believe he was gone. Then my mother and I went to his house and as soon as I saw his sister Allie, it hit me and I broke down in tears. I couldn’t help but feel guilty that I had lost touch with him, because maybe I could have stopped him, maybe I could have done someone about it and saved him. But, one thing I have learned since then is this- a person has to want help and change for themselves. No matter how hard you try, or what you do to help them, it will be useless unless the person actually wants it. And when they want help and change, they will reach for it. Then and only then can anything be done about it.
I sang “Amazing Grace” for Johnny at his funeral. It was probably the most emotional performance of my entire life. Later we went back to his parents’ house and I met all of Johnny’s friends. They knew all about me and told me that Johnny talked about me all the time, which made me happy to hear but at the same time broke my heart.
A woman saw me sing at Johnny’s funeral and hired me to sing at monthly candle light vigils at her church in remembrance of all the kids from the south shore who we lost to heroin overdose. The Patriot Ledger newspaper came to one of these and did a whole news series on the heroin epidemic, including a slideshow on their website featuring a live recording of me singing. Another woman saw this slideshow and hired me to sing at a large political forum on the war against drugs held at Bridgewater State College. Since then, I have also done volunteer work for “The Truth About Drugs” campaign. Also, I personally contacted the superintendent of Abington Public Schools (my hometown) and got the “Truth About Drugs” anti drug program added to the health curriculum at Abington High School.
I wrote a song, which will be on my new EP due to drop early 2013, featuring a verse about Johnny. It’s called “The Butterly Song.”
This past year I had a very close family member become addicted to heroin. For obvious reasons, this made me extremely upset. But what broke my heart even more is that this person is a grown adult who clearly knows better and is so selfish to not care how they are hurting everyone around them who love them. Meanwhile, they are getting high and can’t feel a thing while we are all suffering having to deal with this. And what happens if they overdose? The people who love them will be left here devastated. And, I repeat, this person is a grown adult who clearly knew better… Don’t get me wrong, I still love this person very much and they will always have the opportunity to turn it all around, but it has to come from them.
So, the moral of my story is: don’t do drugs. You will destroy not only your life, but the lives of those around you who love you.
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Melissa Jane xoxo