Addicted to love

By Diana Ashjian
April 21, 2005

My mom held my shoulders in her hands as she tried to tell me that Jeff overdosed and he was dead. I guess she thought that the placement of her hands could keep me from falling apart on that rainy Friday night, April 19, 2004. But, like the glass that lay at my feet I was broken into what seemed like a thousand tiny pieces.

Thinking back I can still feel the metal of his tongue ring in my mouth when he kissed me just as vividly as I can hear the glass that shattered around me when I heard the news that he was gone. Just as surely as I had lost my grip on the tray that I used to carry drinks to my tables, I also lost my grip on the emotion called love and everything that comes with it.

The mish-mesh of feelings and memories that at times have consumed me from that night on have pointed me on a personal journey and even driven me on a crash course that’s challenged me to question the fairytales I’ve built my philosophy of life upon.

You see, the last time he walked me home my heart thudded with disappointment as each of my footsteps drug slower than the last. Somehow I knew that the closer I got to home the further I’d be from him. The more he tried to explain the less I understood. I’d never really experimented with drugs and heroin seemed to me like some dirty word that shouldn’t even be spoken out loud. To me, drug problems were the stuff of after-school specials, and the consistently rising percentage of people living with drug problems in the city of Philadelphia didn’t actually include a real person, especially someone who I loved.

What he wanted most for me to understand was that although he had become a user of such a monster of a drug, his heart still wrenched for someone to understand his conscience-shaken, shock-stricken state. He couldn’t bear for me to be that person anymore than I could watch him drown in such a hell. I knew I lost him that night, but could never have known I would have lost him forever.

In spending days fleeing from the inconsolable grip of grieving the loss of a childhood friend, a confidant and a deep love and trying to use school, work and even dance as an escape, I’ve learned that what I’ve found up until now is what my existence always comes down to, in the grand scheme, of my emotions: myself. Not someone else’s pain or someone else’s problem, just my own image as it is not what it was or what it could be.

I think it’s true that growing up isn’t always an easy thing, but the decisions that we make and the relationships we hold are infinitely apart of us. Jeff is an infinite part of me and some of that part will be some of the basis upon which I’ll make a lot of decisions. Instead of accusing him of hurting me with his shocking choices or leaving me with too many pieces to put back together, I’ve decided to continue loving that undying part of him.

And as much as each stage of grief in losing someone close to you is more personal than most things a person could even start to understand, that air of pain is still a universal enlightenment that varies from so morbid to somehow so beautiful.

As far as remembering the Jeff that I knew, and not the drug addict that other people saw in the last of his days, I’ll always think of him as the boy with the most inquisitive James Dean stare with imploring eyes revealing more than his mouth would ever dare. What I’m asking you is to remember to consider this story the next time you want to ‘get high with a little help from your friends.’

Posted to the web by Shane Evans

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Diana Ashjian

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