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News of a Dead Friend

Written by Eliza Player on Tuesday, 08 May 2012. Posted in Voices in Recovery, Breaking News

Death in Addiction

This is a piece I wrote last June, after getting an email, bearing the news of another dead friend. I know that I have heard this sentiment from so many others. Sometimes, it just seems like they are dropping like flies. Almost all of them, seem to die from overdose, or from drugs or alcohol in some way. It makes my heart so heavy. And yet, it makes me incredibly thankful that tomorrow I will wake up to enjoy the sunrise. It makes me so thankful to breathe this earthly air. I am one of the lucky ones.

I don’t always check my messages as religiously as I once did. I saw a note in my inbox, and because it was from my writer friend, Fauna, I thought it was a story. Or a really profound thought. And as a busy single mom, trying to start a career as a writer…I wanted to save this little morsel for when I had to time to savor it. I always enjoy a note from Fauna. Fauna and I have been friends for years. I knew her back before my using days, and partied with her often in my raucous junkie days, and I still know her now…in my days of recovery. That says a lot, really, about the two of us.

And when I open the email, I do not find a story, or a profound thought. Instead, I find a few short sentences, letting me know of another tragedy. Another dead friend. At the bottom, a slew of pictures, of her, of us all back in the day. And suddenly, before me I have these pictures, and all these memories, feelings flooding back over me. The wooden floor. The needle. The hair, the nails, the skin. A chill ran up my spine, like the dope sickness is about to set in. A chill in the living room air from my window unit, while the rest of the place is humid and muggy. My friends here in NC may complain, but it reminds me of New Orleans. It all reminds me of New Orleans some days. Some days, the chill runs up and down my spine, flashing me back…

Just like these pictures. For an instant, my mind, my skin cold and clammy, transported me back to those days. Those days, so far away from these places. These things we dwell on as a writer, committing our travesties down to paper, at last. These memories, these images, these chills up and down the spine…putting me right back in that place. That wooden floor, reminding me, putting me right back in that place, in my mind, for just a moment.

Thoughts drift back and forth, landing on the Shobar stage, old and worn with the years. Black and white cheap linoleum, and crazy painted bathroom walls. White stalls, and broken toilets. Backs lifted off, and twisted around…to set up my shit. Porcelain, and wooden, and tiled, and faint…faint back in the recesses of my mind…brought leaping forward.


By the memories of the past

These images of

What once was.

This thing I know so well

This thing I knew too well

Still hate to see ‘em go.

And the memories,

Bubbling to the surface

Once more

Spilling over…

Sometimes, it seems they are dropping like flies. Around me, the world still crumbles at times…and in the distance, I hear a soft and melodic music haunting me. A slow and steady beat, rising in my chest and ascending through my soul. A deep and pounding bass, causing my feet to move involuntarily below me…as the ecstasy once did.

Relax, and let all the cares fade away. Let it all fade away. Sounds romantic. Feels fantastic, I think…as I look back with longing. Then, the shiver up my spine once more.

Like I have seen a ghost. I have seen a ghost of my past, and a tiny little piece of it that really is gone. A tiny little piece of it that really has returned to the realm of the ghostly. The wooden floor, the hair, the skin…the god damned needle. And the fucking apple. A ghost of my past, sending the chill up my spine. And I think I am on the verge of withdrawal again. Only I have not taken an opiate in years. These ghosts crawl into the recesses of my brain, tricking my nerves into thinking old patterns. Triggered, once more, by the images of yesteryear.

I take a deep breath. Look through the pictures again. Spine tingling, and chills running back and forth, as these thoughts dance wildly in my head. It almost feels like I am right back there again.

Then, I pull up Word, and begin to write. Balance flowing back onto my shoulders once more. All of it, spilling out. Where the words have been rather silent as of late…

I look around at this tiny little place, and the tiny little face sleeping across the room. And I think about how far I have come. Too far to turn back now…that is for damn sure. And, I put it down, once more. And I know I am lucky to be alive.

Another dead friend. Is that what this all will boil down to? Dead bodies, piling up everywhere. They have been dropping like flies for fucking years. My heart is heavy with all the sadness, and the pain. My heart is just so god damned heavy.

But I know, when I wake up tomorrow, alive, and able to enjoy the sunrise with a sleeping child in the room next to me, I know my heart will be buoyant once more. And I know that when this writing is done, my heart will feel relieved. And if by chance, this beautiful child smiles at me before I wake up tomorrow, my heart will be more buoyant than a balloon. And Melanie's heart will never beat again, not heavy with sadness and not buoyant with love. Instead, it ceases to be. And I thank my Higher Power that I have am still here…and more importantly, present to enjoy it.

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About the Author

Eliza Player

Eliza Player

I have been writing as long as I can remember, even carrying tattered notebooks with me through the streets and strip clubs of New Orleans, in the midst of my heroin addiction. I lived a life saturated in heroin until Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, leaving me to fend for myself, eventually facing my demons and coming face to face with my addiction. I have been clean for five years, and since then I have become a mother, graduated college, and started a writing career. I have a B.A. in Mass Media Communication, with a minor in Journalism. I have also written one published book, Through Both Hell and High Water: A Memoir of Addiction and Hurricane Katrina, which tells the story of those dark days I spent in New Orleans after the storm, battling with addiction amidst a natural disaster. I am the blogger and news curator for RecoveryNowTV, and I love sharing the stories of the world, as well as my own personal journey, with my readers. I hope that my words can touch others out there, struggling with addiction.

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