We were talking while watching the news one night back on Hippy Hill and although I was paying 100% rapt attention to what my husband was saying (about work) I was astonished to see Joe’s 25 year old daughter, my niece, on the evening news, in handcuffs and a county orange jumpsuit. I said to my husband, “That’s Kayla!”
Kayla is a heroin addict. She was arrested for bail violations, at a crime scene where her male companion was shot and killed by law enforcement after an exchange of gunfire. If I were a cop and someone shot at me you can bet I would shoot back with deadly accurate force. I’m a PRAGMATIC progressive liberal.
To be honest there has been so much drug related tragedy in my family that I have lost interest. My husband on the other hand thinks I should be nurturing to any and all as long as it doesn’t disrupt his life. He impressed upon me that I should offer something to Kayla in Joe’s absence. My investigative research revealed that she faces a maximum of 41 years in prison for a number of violations, none of them especially serious, the petty crimes of an habitual offender. Among other things I learned that inmates color in jail, crayons aren’t sharp I suppose. I checked the county jail log each day to see if she was still there and I began to write to her. This is the first of a series of letters.
I’ve been thinking of you since you disappeared and every day since I saw you on the news. I write because I would feel terrible otherwise and there is a slight chance that something I say will be helpful to you in some way.
You are the 4th person in the family who has been tragically affected by drug addiction. Brian died, Tristan died and, of course, Joe died. It is my hope that you will take the opportunity you have been given and learn to LIVE. I don’t understand the psychology of addiction. I know that there are things that don’t work and other things that are effective for some people. I can tell you that I am a lot like most people in my feelings about addiction- I believe it is largely a matter of personal choice and disregard. Kayla, what if I am wrong?
At your age, I made some very bad choices. If I were your age now it is entirely possible that I could be sitting in the cell next to yours. I promise you, it is never too late to change your life and I promise that, like all things worthwhile, it will be very hard work. You will have to say things to people that may be difficult to say and you’ll have to make some changes, changes that other people may not like but changes that will be necessary for your survival. I KNOW you can do those things.
I have wondered on many occasions if Joe shared his medications with you kids. If that is the truth Kayla, you need to start talking about it. You need to tell people to help prevent it from happening in other families. I loved Joe with all my heart; in the last decade of his life he became someone I did not respect at all. You will not be throwing your father under the bus. He wasted his life in many ways and I know he was consumed by regret. I don’t want that to happen to you.
Life is very hard work but it is worth the effort to find a place inside where you are happy to be the person you are.
Each day is a fresh start on a happy ending.