I came to my teen years during the late sixties, the decade of protest and change. No parent of my age is naive to the trinity of sex, drugs, rock-n-roll…we invented it, we lived through the fads – grass to cocaine to pills. The sixties and seventies were rife with hard-core drug songs: Lucy in the Sky, Cold Turkey, White Rabbit, Sister Morphine, Gold Dust Woman, and Heroin. Neil Young’s The Needle and the Damage Done was likely one of the earliest drug-warning laments. Nathaniel Rateliff’s S.O.B. aint nothing new. My parents both hailed from a long line of alcoholics, but the addiction gene went past me without so much as a glance.
My sons, born in the early eighties, also dodged the gene bullet. My daughter, born in the late eighties, rose through her teen years as a privileged, suburban, white collar college student, who loved ballet, art, social causes, and her friends. That she is bi-polar wasn’t something obvious until too late. The gene did not pass her by – it wrapped itself around her and practically invited the college boyfriend to introduce her to his close personal friend, the devil. Opiates, the needle, and hell on earth. It can happen to anybody…brutal comfort.
I wonder if my generation didn’t just take the counter-culture-became-our-culture for granted, and not for the sordid warning it should have been? So smack (no fucking pun, believe me) me in the face with a shovel, and our kids are dying in a heroin plague. My daughter is still dancing with the devil, but my son’s best friend, over a dozen young women I’ve met through my daughter’s programs, young men and women my kids went to high school and college with, are all overdosed and gone – all in the arms of an Angel, and God bless her, but Sarah McLachlan was not writing about heaven, but about a friend’s heroin death.
May they find some comfort there.