Sometimes we are faced with situations in life that are sad beyond belief. I faced one such situation this weekend.
My best friend lost her grandson. The details weren’t very specific in the obituary. His name, age, the family members were all listed. Preferred memorials were to the family, so that did not give any indication of the cause of death.
His memorial reception and service was on Sunday. My husband and I went to the reception before I went into work.
My best friend could not attend the memorial because of her own health issues. I did get a chance to speak with my friend’s daughter, the grieving mother. It was then that I learned of why this healthy and vibrant young man died.
He was 18 years old, a beautiful young man inside and out. Like most of us at that age, he probably felt he was invincible and nothing would happen to him. Most of us have been there. We have done stupid, illegal, or dangerous things when younger that we now look back on and think, “I can’t believe I took that kind of a risk.” Maybe it was drinking at a party and then driving home. Maybe it was engaging in some reckless activity that could have caused great bodily harm. This young man, who wasn’t really into drugs, decided for whatever reason to try to get high on a Fentanyl patch. It only took that one time of risk-taking behavior and experimentation to be fatal. Due to his inexperience, he ingested the whole patch at once, overdosed, and slipped into a coma. Two days later, he was declared brain dead and a day later the family had to face the nightmare and heartbreak of giving permission to turn off life support, a decision no parent should ever have to face.
There was so much potential and promise of a life that will never be. He was working at enlisting in the military. Ironically, on the day after he slipped into a coma, a letter came from the US Air Force informing him that he was eligible for enlistment.
His mother told me that his life wasn’t in vain. He died, but lives on through the organ donations that his family authorized.
One thing she said that stuck with me since yesterday’s memorial was that through his death, her son has saved other lives. It came to me that perhaps by writing this, he will continue to save lives in another way. Perhaps there is a young man or woman who is curious and wants to experience and experiment with drugs or engage in some other risk-taking activity. Perhaps there is a parent who is concerned about their son or daughter. Perhaps they will stumble across this commentary and if so, perhaps this young man’s death will help others to make a life-saving decision. Even if just one person reads and takes this to heart, through his death, he just might save one more life.