A Different Perspective….

“HAPPY EASTER my child what r u up to” 6:24pm

My shift should’ve been over and I’d normally be having a root beer with my pup by 6:30pm. This day I was just hanging up the cruiser keys as I read that Easter text from my father. The usual guilt struck me as I looked at my phone, I should’ve been having Easter dinner with him the next day…but I had to work. Dad is used to me missing special days… 18 years of police shifts- he understands. I imagined my father looking down at his phone, waiting for some message back from his little girl as I struggled to even find a response.

A post my addict shared on her Facebook page about holidays and the days surrounding them being difficult flashed through my brain. She’s right, I find them to be some of the hardest days as well.

As far as that day though, that particular day before Easter, I found some minimal comfort in seeing that my addict shared anything at all on Facebook. This gave me solace in the knowledge that she was still alive, there’s still a chance for recovery, and there’s still a chance for healing… Some days (especially days like that one), I settle on the happiness found in the smallest grain of hope I can find by reading between the lines.

I think back on the day’s events, the ones that caused me to be late getting off work. Or maybe these events are better defined as why I could only stare blankly at my fathers text- a simple holiday text, the usual, no big deal right?

I was exhausted, my nose was stuffy and eyes were burning from being in the dirty filthy smoke filled apartment for 4 hours. My mind was completely worn out from spending these hours trying to effectively communicate with the residents of the apartment. These are the same people that I assume you thought were your “friends”. Your friends… who are telling nothing but lies in an attempt to cover up what their involvement really was. I’m not saying they were guilty of anything criminal. I’m simply saying it’s harder to stitch your last night together when no one can be honest. I suppose the middle age couple think it’s normal for their 30 year old friend to die in their pigpen of an apartment. To be honest, they don’t even seem phased or bothered at all, but who can be sure right?

My contact lenses felt like glass shards in my eyes as I searched the room for anything I could use to identify you by name. There were odd unhygienic stains and cigarette holes all over the dirty bed sheet where we found you. The carpet seemed to be sticky and crusty under my boots, and trust me when I say it looked far worse than it felt. I finally found your purse tossed in a corner next to some trash. I shuffled through the contents of your purse…your personal belongings, where I found your drivers license.

The picture on your license was definitely you, that much I could tell. You used to be a pretty girl who wore makeup and took care of yourself. The girl in the photo didn’t look like the kind of girl that would be found in such a foul place. I thought to myself that maybe even you didn’t recognize the girl in the photo anymore.

I found your cell phone, which I hoped would be helpful in finding a contact number for your loved ones. The medics called out the exact time and announced your official time of death as I shuffled through the remainder of your belongings. I could tell that you were a very gifted artist and that you had a little girl that was maybe 4 or 5.
I found quite a few things in your purse that were from your father. I could see that you had a very close relationship with him, or maybe the girl in the photo used to (perhaps the girl in front of me forgot that). I could tell your father loved you very much, I could also tell he was tired. He supported you and wanted you to beat your addictions. Your father tried every possible thing he could do to get you sober….everything and then some, to be exact.

I could feel your fathers pain and frustration through his messages to you. I understood far too well his broken feelings of hope, mistrust, love, and shattered dreams for you. I knew he felt helpless, heavy hearted and sad. It’s a feeling like he was watching you drown in the ocean, his hands tied behind his back with a life jacket just out of his reach. I recognize this feeling myself, I’ve felt this same pain for over 20 years while watching my addict drown repeatedly.

“No, she doesn’t live here, she lives with her father”, I explained to the medical examiner as she quizzed us on your circumstances. I had just jotted down your fathers address, I’d need that later for your death notification.

I pondered whether your father was already wondering where you were and why you hadn’t answered his calls and texts. I knew he’d feel the same familiar angst he felt every time he didn’t hear from you. He’d feel the same heavy feeling in his chest and gut as when he got a phone call/ visit from the police before. I knew and understood the immediate feeling of panic and dread he would feel as he waited for the officer to speak. I knew no matter how fast the officer spoke, it would feel like eternity before they uttered the reason for seeking him out.

I also knew he would repeat the same phrase I hear each time I have to do an overdose death notification. I hate this phrase, it echoes in my ears and mind as if it’s just a normal greeting at this point. I reconsidered the reason of my hatred for this stupid phrase, and I know why I despise it so much.

I know the dismal phrase so well, because I have said it many times myself as it relates to my addict. I knew there’d be a slight difference in the words as they come from your father this time. This time he won’t be able to say “I’m waiting for the day I get the call that she’s overdosed and has died.” This time he will say “I knew it was coming” and he won’t sound surprised. As those words come out of his mouth I will feel the same strange anger and disgust towards the phrase as I always do. I can’t think too many other people hate something as simple as a word, words, a phrase, random words pieced together, a sentence…

The Medical Examiner finally wraps up her duties and zips up your body bag. I walk past your “friends” who seem unconcerned and unmoved by the last few hours events. They flop onto their scummy couch and reach for the remote without even picking up the trash in the middle of the floor left by the Medic team that tried to revive you. As a matter of fact, I don’t recall them looking at the bed where you spent your last night of your life. They didn’t even peer over at the spot on the floor where your lifeless body was placed by the Medic team so they could work.

I take one last look at your “friends”, one last look around the grimy apartment, and one last look at the spots where you spent your final moments. The sound of the door shutting behind me echoes in my brain as I walk to my car thinking that my job isn’t done yet. I’ll have to do some administrative things and put your personal belongings in the property locker.

My most important final task will be to contact your father and tell him his worst fear has come to fruition. I’ll have to tell him that his little girl has lost the battle of addiction and has succumbed to her demons.

I’ll call the number I found in your cell phone text log listed as “Dad.” Today- it’s the day before Easter, the day of your death, the day that will forever haunt your fathers nightmares. The day that will forever make your fathers holidays and the days surrounding them a miserable, difficult time.

By the way, you never got this, it’s your fathers last text to you. You were already dead…

“Good morning! What did you do last night? Tomorrow is Easter dinner! Love you! Dad” 08:29 am

  1. This is so heartbreaking. I know it is happening all of the time.
    I am so greatful to be in recovery.

  2. ? Tragedy upon tragedy…,,

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