This I Believe
Crack cocaine has changed my life and made me explore what redemption entails. I had assumed that I would protect myself by keeping as much distance as possible from this drug. Living in New York City one cannot help to see the pathetic wrecks that people become from chronic use. It is human nature to feel repulsed and even contempt as they panhandle in the subways. A junkie is a pariah, an American untouchable, to give them money will just go to maintaining the habit.
Eight years ago, a close family friend’s daughter introduced me to her boyfriend. I would later learn that his mother had been addicted to crack which made living with her impossible. I became his mentor and care giver, as well as the person who would take him to the museums of New York City to show him that among such ugliness there is beauty.
This youth showed scholastic skills that were far and apart that of his peers. He also inherited the legacy of neglect and violence. I was warned that he was too much of a risk. I would wind up gravely disappointed or possibly seen as gay man manipulating a teenager. I believe in redemption and certain risks have to be made so another can recover the beauty in their lives. He is now a man and was awarded a scholarship to the University of Oxford.
While the excitement of his success was the buzz of our household, I noticed my lover of 5 years was loosing weight. I had thought it was unchecked depression causing him all this pain; it was not much longer until I found the many cheap lighters and the glass pipe.
This doesn’t happen to good people, junkies are those other people! The intervention was done and the complex network of state agencies finally produced a treatment center not far from New York City. On Tuesdays I became aware that junkies were sons and daughters, husbands and wives, and parents. I too had to make a fearless inventory of my past. Our love plus this therapy will aid us in dealing with this chronic disease.
Not long after, on Easter Sunday, I would awake to an empty bed to see him strung out, and chain smoking in the kitchen. He chose not to return to the detox program and I began to pack his freshly laundered clothes that I had just finished folding. They whys are always the same. Yet, at the moment when the confused pets are taken away to know what to do next is not as clear.
I believe in redemption because it forces us to know that pity is not a weak or a patronizing state. It informs us that our humanity is intimately linked and one must also protect and nurture oneself. My home is diminished, yet it is also intact and I look forward to the return of my dear scholar from Oxford.
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