Who’s going to take responsibility?


“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” — Nelson Mandela, politician and philanthropist.

When my nephew and I get together, we usually laugh and laugh about all the nonsense of our family. But this weekend, we didn’t laugh. When I came into the room, Davey stood, walked up to me, draped his arms around me, held on to me, and we cried together.

That Saturday morning, the day before Father’s Day, we met for the funeral of Davey’s son. Max had overdosed on heroin. He was only 25 years of age. Only two years before, Davey had spoken at his brother’s funeral, Sean, who had overdosed on the same drugs.

Davey spoke at his son’s funeral. Max had won five state-championship titles in gymnastics and played football. He had a heart of a competitor and was a true athlete. He had a brilliant mind. He had accomplished a lot in his young life, but his life was over too soon.

Davey asked the questions so many people asked. “Why? Why would he turn to drugs? Why couldn’t he kick this serious drug addiction? Why couldn’t we help him? What more could we have done for him?”

Over the last five years, Max had overdosed several times. My nephew had spent over $200,000 for drug rehab centers to get his son well. Max would get clean, then he’d fall back into the addiction. Davey did everything he could to save his son from drugs. He couldn’t save him.

The last thing he said to his son was, “I love you, Bubby.” The evening before his death, Davey asked his son to meet him the next morning for a men’s breakfast. If Max would go, then he would take him to the fights the next night. Davey knew how much his son loved going to the fights.

Max said, “I don’t know what kind of shape I’ll be in tomorrow morning, but I’ll be there.”

His father said, “It doesn’t matter, just come.”

In the middle of the night, he overdosed on heroin. He was rushed to the hospital. They couldn’t save him.

My nephew said, “My last words to my son were ‘I love you, Bubby.’ I’m so thankful those were the words I said. I didn’t yell or accuse him. Only by God’s grace, those were my last words to him.”

I asked Al’s brother about his son’s death. He said, “Your life changes forever. It’s never the same when you lose a child. You never get over it. It’s so final. I think of him all the time.” His son was only 48 years of age and left two teenage daughters behind.

I read an account that Rick Renner, a pastor, wrote of a funeral he conducted for a young man, “The sorrow and remorse in that room was so thick, it could almost be cut with a knife. Nothing is more sadder … I watched as the mother approached the casket to tell her son goodbye one last time. She was so overwhelmed with grief that she crawled into the casket. She clutched and held tightly to her son’s dead body, pleading, ‘Talk to me. Talk to me. Don’t leave me like this.’ Funeral home workers had to pull the mother out of the coffin and escort her to the limousine that awaited to take her and the rest of the family to the cemetery for the burial.”

Al’s brother told me about one of his girlfriends, whom I have written about in this column before. She’s the one with the twin 2-year-old girls. She is on meth. Her parents are trying to help her and are taking care of her children. Why isn’t she taking responsibility for her own life and her daughters’ lives? These little girls will grow up and only know about a mother who is strung out on drugs. They will probably know heartache and maybe even abuse before they’re grown.

When these young people are fighting for their lives because of an overdose, their so-called friends scatter. No one is around. With both deaths in our family, we asked, “Who sold him the drugs? Why wasn’t someone around to help him? Who and where is the young girl he was partying with that night? Someone dropped him off at the hospital and left; why didn’t they leave their name?” These are heartbreaking questions for a parent. They don’t want to believe their child died alone or with some sleaze-ball who sold them the drugs and left their child dying without trying to get help.

My question is, Who’s going to take responsibility for this drug situation? Teenagers are not old enough to vote for the drugs that are coming into Colorado (marijuana). But they are the ones using them. So who voted these drugs in? Who are the adults here?

I’m talking about recreational drugs. They are addictive and will lead to other kinds of drugs, believe it or not. The sellers aren’t taking responsibility. Why should they? They’re making more money than they know what to do with. Why would they give up a lucrative business?

A drug dispensary in Denver is making stacks and stacks of money. The news reported that when the owner of the dispensary took the money to the bank, it smelled like marijuana and the bank refused to take his money. Now, he has the task of getting the smell out of the money. That’s what he’s worried about, but he’s got the smell of money and that’s a small worry. Is he going to take responsibility for what he’s doing?

Final brushstroke: Does the responsibility fall on the lawmakers, the voters, the sellers, the parents, the children or the users? I can’t believe it’s a futile fight. Do we just talk about it and watch the ones we love go to an early grave? Someone needs to take responsibility for what’s going on. Those who term it “recreational drugs” are fooling themselves. This was no party.

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This story was posted on July 3, 2014.