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January 30, 2007

The Colts and The Coats

It was cold here last night in Indianapolis, we had our first real snow of the season; the Colts won the AFC and are going to the Super Bowl.  By some amazing stroke of luck we got tickets to last night's game between the Patriots and the home team.  My anticipation before leaving for the game was palpable as I nervously ran my checklist...camera, glasses, pocket radio...tickets...YES!! 

And then as I went through the hall closet for a coat to wear the ache in my heart caught me up short. My eyes fell upon several of David's coats that still waited, where he hung them up there...left them there...touched them last.  I wear some of them now and agaim...he was a bit shorter than me but like lots of 16 year olds he cultivated that "baggy" look, which I hated then but love it now because it means that I can wear his things.  And when I do I am totally enveloped by him the way that I still ache to be...totally enveloped by his arms. 

And as I paused between a memory and the ache I so wished that David were here to share this once in a life time moment with his Mom and me...when the stars aligned for the biggest game in the relatively young history of the Indianapolis edition of the Colts football franchise. 

And so I reached for a coat that I had never worn before.  Slipped it on, zipped it up, and then put my hands in the pockets.  Searching for something....anything...in the depth of those pockets that his fingers had last touched.  Then I heard Marissa in the hallway behind me and when I turned and looked at her I knew why I had married her.  There she stood...in another one of David's coat....just like me, wanting to share the moment with our son across the eternal divide of memory and love and loss....

We nodded at each other knowingly and left the house...wrapped in our son's coats...his arms around us, carrying him with us into the cold night to the Colts game.

January 30, 2007 at 10:55 PM in The Odyssey | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 27, 2007

The Last Home Run

I lean on the chain link backstop my fingers intertwined with the gray metal and gaze out from home plate toward the outfield.  I hunch up my shoulders against the bitter Indiana January wind and pull my hat down over my ears to fend off the numbing cold. The noon sun shines brightly down but its promise of warmth remains unfulfilled and will remain that way for still some weeks to come. And yet as I stand here on Diamond One at Veterans Park in the middle of winter I am both warmed and haunted by memory…for that is what memory does when you have lost someone whose life shined so brightly and whose death brought such darkness.

I walk to the batters box and stand where he stood many times kicking the dust off his cleats, taking those practice swings and awaiting the next pitch. I step behind the plate where he squatted in his team’s ill-fitting catcher’s gear that always seemed two sizes too big for him.  Finally I walk to the pitchers mound where I stood the last time I was here with him and the waves of the sea of memory wash over me.

We came that June afternoon, in the year before he died, because he wanted to see how many baseballs he could hit out of the park.  You see this was his little league field where he had been an all-star player in his younger years.  Now that he was on his high school team he was bigger and stronger and wanted to spend this warm afternoon at his old field engaged in his own personal “homerun derby”, with Dad as pitcher, infielder and outfielder. We had a wonderful time that day yelling and laughing at each other…he complained constantly about my pitching saying that at times it was too fast, too slow, too high and too low.  But now and again when the speed and the height was just right he would send the ball sailing over the center field fence accompanied by our whoops and hollers.

Shortly after that summer day he lost his love of baseball, a change that in retrospect should have been a warming sign for us that something was terribly wrong.  As addiction grows and begins to take over a young person’s life it pushes out other things of worth that had provided feelings of pride, satisfaction and joy.  Addiction becomes the rapacious creditor that demands the addict’s soul as daily recompense until, in David’s case, his life was the final payment.

Baseball memories….light and dark, joy and sorrow.

January 27, 2007 at 07:22 PM in The Odyssey | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 22, 2007

Winter Diamonds

The gravel is wet and sticks to soles of my shoes as I walk along the path to the baseball diamonds. The chilling rain creates minature streams that empty into scattered puddles forcing me to make my way gingerly between them on this bleak January day. Winter in Indiana was never a favorite time for me when I was growing up...the steel gray skies above, the damp wet cold that settles deep into your bones; the empty trees seemingly devoid of life standing like sentries over the barren fields. 

After losing David, winter in Indiana seems to exist only to suck what hope and joy I still possess in my soul.  And so I come on this winter day to these open diamond shaped fields enclosed by chain link to listen and remember.  To listen in the wind that sweeps by me for the cheers of summer days long past when hope came in the guise of a three run inning....and joy in the fluid motion of a young shortstop as he effortlessly fielded a ground ball and made the play at first.

And as I remember...the hope and the joy floods back warming my soul steeling my resolve against the damp wet cold of loss.

January 22, 2007 at 11:58 AM in The Odyssey | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 09, 2007


Over the past six years when we do presentations on "huffing" and David's  stuggle with substance abuse, there are many questions that young people and their parents ask us.  One question that occurs over and over again is..."what does inhaling areosol propellant or "huffing" do to the human body?" 

During that time we have done our best to try and explain it's destructive physiological effects that the chemicals in areosol have on organs like the lungs...the kidneys...the heart and the brain...

But as time goes by we have realized that in all actuality the time is short for young people...and in recognizing that...we have come to know that the only real answer to the question ..."what does inhaling areosol propellant or "huffing" do to the human body?" is that...


January 9, 2007 at 07:01 PM in The Odyssey | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 08, 2007

Bad Kids

Too often the phrase "Bad Kids" is the answer to why?? when parents talk about their own young person's substance abuse.  Blame is often leveled at "those kids" their son or daughter is "hanging out" with.

Parent denial and societal stigma drive much of this desire to put the blame on others when really the more important task at hand should be about working to get the adolescent, who is struggling, the help that they need.  Parents and families who become mired in the blame game waste valuable time and emotional capital that would be better directed toward substance abuse treatment and recovery.

When it comes to the disease of addiction, there is really NO such thing as a BAD kid, only GOOD kids making BAD choices.

January 8, 2007 at 02:05 PM in The Odyssey | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 07, 2007

It's My Life

He stood in the waiting area of the treatment facility...pleading with his parents as if his life depended on it.  Tears and threats mingled together.  "Don't make me give up my friends!!!  If I want to smoke pot or do drugs I'm not hurting anyone....why don't you just leave me alone and let things be how they used to be...IT'S MY LIFE."

The young man's words echoed in my ears and took me back to that night when Dave came home strung out on drugs...his pupils so dialeted by the Acid  that they didn't react at all to any bright light.  Dave knew we had reached our breaking point and that taking him to treatment was his stop.  But in the same breath with which he agreed to go to treatment he implored us to not make him give up his friends...

When a young person decides to use drugs it is a false perception that they're not hurting anyone and it's only their life that is affected.

In the end David, through the drugs, gave up his friends, gave up the girl he loved, gave up his parents and his brother...gave up his life.

And you know...It wasn't just his life....it was all our lives.

January 7, 2007 at 09:48 PM in The Odyssey | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 01, 2007

Ambulance 334

You always hear the sound first but you never know where its coming from. 

Sometimes it starts out faint and in the distance...other times it is sudden and near...but you never can tell at first where it is.  You turn your head from side to side as your ears attempt to localize the sound and then you ask yourself...."where is it...is it behind you, or in front of you?  Maybe its off to the right or to the left...where is it?"  Is it responding to a call or is it on its way to the ER?  Does it's reluctant passenger really have a chance, or are the odds against stacked against him or her and this is just a valiant effort?

And then there it is...rushing toward you, the ambulance with it's siren whining in intensity until it reaches a crescendo beside you,  And then as if by magic it's plaintive sound recedes as quickly as it grew until it is only a memory for most.

But for me I go through these thoughts every time an ambulance is near.  And as it rushes past I am compelled to look for the number on the side.  Is It is Ambulance 334 or not?  334...Station Number 4 in Lawrence Township of Indianapolis Indiana.   Station 4 that responded to David's call that warm summer day in June.  A valient effort...but in vain.

I wish I didn't care so much about ambulances.

January 1, 2007 at 10:16 PM in The Odyssey | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack