My Cousin Zac
I believe that people never change. I believe that people are not capable of making a true change in themselves. They may want to change and go through the steps of making a change, but in the end they are the same and always will be.
When I was little, my parents would take me to play with my cousin. He was always smarter than everyone in his classes. He made outstanding grades and was talented at everything he did.He is four years older than me, so we began to grow apart the older we got, I was 11 playing baseball and skateboarding and he was 15 learning to drive and becoming independent.
The older he got the more trouble he would get in. He was getting in trouble at school, at home, and getting arrested on a fairly regular basis.
One distinct time, when he was 15, I remember was him getting arrested for graffiti. He had been caught spray-painting the wall under an overpass on the highway. The police had also found drugs on him and he was arrested for that as well. Around a year later, my aunt and uncle had become very concerned about his drug and alcohol abuse, so when the opportunity for employment came up in Colorado they thought it was best for the whole family to move.
Out there was no different for him. He found new friends, new drugs, and new troubles to get into. He dropped out of school in the 9th grade. This did nothing but give him more time to get into more trouble. He was eventually arrested and put in jail for stealing a car. When he got out, he swore that this had changed him and that he would not do drugs or get in trouble anymore.
About six months later my parents told me that my cousin had been found unconscious in his bed. He had taken a huge quantity of prescription medications, leaving him in a coma and on life-support. It appeared that he was going to die right then and there.
He eventually came out of the coma with severe brain damage. He could not remember much, could not walk, and was basically a vegetable. After many rehabilitation sessions, he has made somewhat of a recovery.
Today he walks with a limp, has to wear hearing aids, still does not have all his memory back, and lives off disability checks. He again talked about how this had changed his life and that he was done with the drugs. He went to a drug rehab center where he graduated and seemed to be clean.
After he came out of the coma I began to read some poetry he had written. These poems were about how he was still sitting in his room and was smoking meth and doing numerous other drugs on a regular basis.
I have tried to take something so negative and turn it into a positive influence on my life. This constantly reminds me to not make the same mistakes as him, and most of the rest of my family, do.
One would think that being arrested, legally dead, and handicapped for life would be enough motivation to make a permanent change. He tried but cannot change who he is. He has hurt everyone around him. I have not spoken to him since his overdose and have no desire to ever speak to him again. No matter how much he wants to change or what efforts he makes to change I believe that he cannot ever change.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.