Who they may have become

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Some squeeze into lonely, ignoble deaths, leaving loved ones grieving, inconsolable, screaming the loss, their dreams stolen in that icy moment. No-one
will never see the greatness of who their beloved may have become, if they’d lived another day.

Backs sag, knees bend, wet eyes watch the coffin drop, long years
of pinprick horror forgotten — stolen by a final tickle in the vein.

So long they grieved, but not like this,
never like this.

Old tears swim through fishes’ salty fins
to swill in the ocean of lesser loss,
while this monumental pain will always taste the same.

It makes no sense in heavy heads which rattle with the raddled question of where the connection may be, between

the child with smiling eyes, whose chubby fingers reached for the rising sun, the girl who laughed to see stars in the night-time sky; the boy who cried when the dog died,
and that cold pair of letters that nudge together: O.D.

O.D. Odd. Ode. Overdose. Too much of something, somewhere beneath the skin. The old hands now know that their first shot was an overdose. Too much of a drug that the body didn’t require, which twisted the mind into thinking the needle of death held the elixir of life.

Photos spill from pine tables in rose-garden homes, they pile upon worktops in slick city buildings. Suburban parents and council house tenants squint at pictures in search of their children, eyes stinging as they make believe there is a secret hidden behind their youthful skin that will bring them back to life again.

Weeping, they recall
the day he won the game,
the way she longed for fame.

They can’t escape the horrid thought that hammers in their brains:
“Was I to blame for the fall?”

Misplaced guilt and memories increase the weight of pain,
but still it tastes the same,
still it tastes the same.

“Another day and he may have gone straight,”
“another day and she may have been great,”
“They may have seen the light,”
they say, and they may be right,
but tomorrow came too late,
too often, it comes too late.

Some struggle with hope, and some recover to become great.
These are the lucky ones, for whom tomorrow was not too late,
but they have to be brave to break the chain
that binds the brain with links of lies;
their wills must be strong to beat the Devil at his evil game.

Those who win are grateful that the reaper waited
until it was too late to stake his claim.

Should you ever meet a recovered addict in the street,
know that it is an honour to be in his company.
In his weakest hour he has risen from his bed,
kicked away the painkilling killer
and writhing through sickness and agony of body and brain,
has beaten foul fiends the like of which you and I have never seen,
to come out cleaner than we may never be,
and to become much more than he may otherwise have been
even if he had always been clean.

The Daily Post #Elixir

©Jane Paterson Basil

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33 thoughts on “Who they may have become

  1. Watching a loved one struggle with this viper leaves a special kind of maniacal heart ache in your soul, doesn’t it? You pulling an arm one way, the Reaper pulling the other away. It’s not a death so much as it is a war game, a battle. It leaves scars on everyone’s soul.

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  2. Not sure, yet for most. The ultimate denial that it will happen for them someday. Always wanting to somehow make their mark in the world. Alexander of Greece, Isaac Newton, Napoleon Bonaparte or even bankers like Rothschild and cartoon film makers like Walt Disney. All convinced it would not happen to them. From the moment we are born we are on that slide. It would make sense that we prepare for the inevitable. Are there school classes? Or college level courses? The one thing that will be, one day inevitable and we will be totally unprepared. For the most part. So without becoming maudlin. Use some humility and look for death as the next door to pass through.Not an end to it but a new beginning. Cheers Jamie

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  3. Thank you for reading and commenting, Jamie.
    This poem is about drug overdose. I’ve seen too many young deaths, and one too many fatherless children. There’s a time for everything, including that great adventure, death, but when someone accidentally overdoses on an illegal substance, I don’t think it automatically becomes the right time.
    As for me, I’m pretty sure that what lies ahead of me when this life is through will be a lot better than this, so I have no fear of death, but I believe the lives of two young people depend – for the moment – on me being alive.

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    1. Ahh, I see. Being someone who grew up in sixties. Illegal substance was out there and available if I wished to pursue. I never understood why someone would willingly embark on a toxic narcotic for “fun”? I certainly understand the monkey on the back, that is addiction. Still, addictions may be beaten. Mostly, it just requires will? I have a lot of sympathy for those who die from a self inflicted malaise. The people left trying to understand why or how? There but for fortune … etc. Never look a gift horse in the mouth. Cheers Jamie

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      1. Addictions can be beaten, but it’s difficult because of the way the chemicals work on the brain. For example, heroin converts quickly back to morphine in the body, and when it hits the brain it attaches to opioid receptors – which we all have. The brain tells the body that heroin is more important than food, shelter and reproduction. The addict in recovery must constantly fight that mindset, and that’s only one of the difficulties… ~ Jane

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        1. True enough, it seems. Yet there are plenty of things to become addicted to in this world. Money, alcohol, gambling, tobacco, cocaine, food, sex and yes, opiates. There are other drugs than those listed. Anorexia and Bulimia. They all provide a struggle for the addicted. They all seem to work the same way? I fail to see any real difference in addictions. We walk a knife’s edge in life. Legislating morality, never seems to work. Sympathy for the afflicted. Love and understanding probably helps? There but for fortune … go I. The survivors are devastated. Trying to understand why, etc.

          It is the bankers, addiction to wealth. That seems to provide a root cause for so much misery on others.

          I’m not talking about the lady or man, who works in a bank. But the bankers such as Rothschild, Sassoon, Rockefeller, Meyer, Goldman and so on. There seems to be as many bankers addicted to wealth as those using heroin, fentanyl, oxycontin, etc. The bankers connections to the trade, go back a long way. They probably keep layers of separation, to make any connection hard to prove? Yet seeing U.S. troops guarding the poppy fields of Afghanistan give some indication of their continued involvement with funding.

          As for the children and families left by the devastation? The poem makes more sense for me now. Cheers Jamie.

          Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s great news Jane.
        I really do hope they make it to
        the other end. Where the sun shines.

        Don’t forget Jane, you have my my email address.
        You can email me anytime.

        Your friend,

        Alan.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. .
    As for me, I’m pretty sure that what lies ahead of me when this life is through will be a lot better than this, so I have no fear of death, but I believe the lives of two young people depend – for the moment – on me being alive.

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  5. .
    As for me, I’m pretty sure that what lies ahead of me when this life is through will be a lot better than this, so I have no fear of death, but I believe the lives of two young people depend – for the moment – on me being alive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment. It’s the same for me, although my two are 29 and 31. They’re both in the early stages of recovery from addiction, so it’s essential that I survive until they are more settled into abstenance.

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  6. There seems to be as many bankers addicted to wealth as those using heroin, fentanyl, oxycontin, etc. There’s a time for everything, including that great adventure, death, but when someone accidentally overdoses on an illegal substance, I don’t think it automatically becomes the right time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve just read through the poem again, and see that the last two lines could be misleading – suggesting that for that addict to live another day is a mistake. I only meant it was a mistake from the point of view of the grim reaper. I’m going to edit it. I resuscitated my son one of the times when he overdosed. It was horrible. The paramedics were just about to tell us there was no hope when he came round.

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  7. There’s a time for everything, including that great adventure, death, but when someone accidentally overdoses on an illegal substance, I don’t think it automatically becomes the right time. I’ve just read through the poem again, and see that the last two lines could be misleading – suggesting that for that addict to live another day is a mistake.

    Like

    1. I reread it a week or two ago, and thought that despite my obvious empathy, the last lines may be misleading, so I changed it, making it clear that the only one who is disappointed when the addict survives is the grim reaper.
      I connect with addicts and families of addicts online, I have a blog about addiction, I plan to start a recovery blog, two of my children are addicts, I’ve wept at the funerals of addicts and I resuscitated my son when he overdosed. It tears me up when an addict dies, and makes me weep with joy when an addict goes into successful recovery. Some of the most valuable people I know are recovered addicts. A lot of my every day is spent thinking about addiction and recovery.

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  8. There seems to be as many bankers addicted to wealth as those using heroin, fentanyl, oxycontin, etc. There seems to be as many bankers addicted to wealth as those using heroin, fentanyl, oxycontin, etc.

    Like

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