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An Unkind Death

Our daughter, Sugar, called the other day to tell us that an old boyfriend of hers just died. It wasn't just any old boyfriend. This was a boy she went out with in high school, took to the prom, who she shared an apartment with for 2 years and who introduced her to her future husband. This is a man who grew up in our town, had generational roots here, and whom she had loved. He was 36 years old and died of a massive heart attack.
The tragedy here isn't just that a young man died, though that is tragic. It's that he was a lost soul, a boy snatched away by drugs, bad choices and lost connections. He had artistic talent and had a bright future waiting for him. But early drug and alcohol cravings led to addiction and he lost his way. Sugar left him finally because his addiction and drug abuse overshadowed everything else in his world. He spent time in jail, time on the road, and too much time in misery. The tragic irony is that he died after he came home to clean up and shake off the addiction. There were no drugs in his system when he died.

This story is all too common in our society and it faces all of our children like a rite of passage: will they or won't they seccumb. Losing friends and family to drugs doesn't require them to die. They become the living dead, as though the body snatchers have taken over and the person inside looks out but can't escape or speak, just watch their life being led for them by this craving, illogical beast who pushes everyone who cares away. They know they have become a pariah, and everyone who tries to love them has to do it through a veil of self abuse, failure and the longing for the person they once were to show their face again and be whole.

Travis' death has affected Sugar profoundly. It is her first real brush with mortality because someone close is gone. Someone she truly loved, someone that was close to all of her circle of friends. He had dropped out of their world for much of the past 15 years but not out of their hearts.

You were a good man in a bad way, Travis. I hope your soul finds peace.