This is a very sad column to write. One of our reader/writer family members has suffered a terrible loss. Her 31 year old son, who had been “clean” for 10 months, was seduced by a “friend” to try an illegal substance “one more time;” it took his life.

Children are not supposed to die before their parents; it’s not the normal or natural way…but it happens and when it does it is completely devastating to the surviving parents. No matter what the cause—drugs, illness, accident—we blame ourselves and wonder what we did wrong.  

My son, John, was only 3 when he died. He had run a very high fever when he was one month old, which caused encephalitis, and left him totally brain damaged. Could I have prevented it? I doubt it. We had a three year odyssey trying to find out why. There had been a meningitis outbreak when he was born and he could have been exposed while we were still in the maternity section of the hospital. I’ll never really know but even now, 53 years later, I still wonder if I could have prevented it.  

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Judy, Geoffrey’s mother, wrote the touching acrostic “Addictions.” She did everything in her power to help free her son from the demon drugs that finally took him from her.  

We make choices in life and are sometimes seduced into making the wrong choice. To alleviate feelings of depression or anger or lack of confidence we self-medicate, some with alcohol, some with legal or illegal drugs. Any one of us can be caught up in the euphoric state created by an addictive substance. We must strive to understand first how to prevent addiction and then, nonjudgmentally, how to help those who become addicted.
I wrote a poem after Johnny died and I offer it now to Judy and to all who may find solace in reading it.

De Novo
The cross I bear seems heavy now,
On bended knee, with knotted brow,
I struggle on and seek the way,
To follow in His path this day.

Three times He fell, yet on he strode,
While scoffers laughed and barred the road.
(I’ve fallen too beneath the weight,
My courage wanes where His was great.)

I thought my burden fierce and crass,
Undeserved and unsurpassed.
I cursed the sky ‘til I was shown
A cross far greater than my own.
- AK, 1967

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