Look at that happy, smiling, bright eyed little boy. Today I attended his funeral, after he died from a drug overdose 3 days short of his 33rd birthday.
How does one go from an all American boy with everything in the world going for him to a broken young man who’s life is ravaged by drug addiction?
A week ago, almost to the hour, my phone rang.I saw that my best friend, Sharon was calling. I answered the phone, and I heard the words, “Patty, I’m calling because Matt died of an overdose.” Matt was her son—her only child. Instantaneously, I burst out crying in shock and pain. It really shouldn’t have come as a surprise at all, after watching the nightmare of his drug addiction unfold for eight years. But when the moment finally came, it was a shock.
I rushed to her house, 15 minutes away, still crying. I was greeted at the door by her next door neighbor, who informed me that his body was still in the house, in his bedroom. His mother had found him, dead. Almost every night for eight years, she would stop by his bedroom door in the middle of the night to listen to make sure he was still alive. When she did so at 2 am, he was sleeping. She could hear his rhythmic breathing. When she woke up Saturday morning, she went about her business as usual, waiting for him to get up. 9 am came, then 10 am. Finally, around 11 am, still no sign of Matt. She opened his door and he was laying on his bed, lifeless. She knew he was dead right away, but she felt his skin. He was cold.
It’s all sort of a blur, but there was a police officer there, in the living room, telling the small group of close friends that had gathered already that they were not going to do an autopsy and that they found two needles next to him. That they were running toxicology tests but they had no doubt that it was a drug overdose. The police officer looked very mournful. She had seen this too many times. When they came to remove his body, we all went outside and walked around the block so we didn’t have to watch. But I turned around and saw a body covered in a maroon cloth being carried out on a stretcher.
I have had a long, complex journey with Matt and his mother, my friend, Sharon. We became friends when Matt was just about 7 or 8 years old. My son was the same age. We used to sit and talk at the community pool while our kids played in the water. Sharon was a karate instructor, and part of our history is that she was my teacher all the way until I got my black belt some 20 years ago.
Matt was a typical blonde haired, blue eyed all-American boy.He grew up in a typical middle class suburban family with good values. His family loved him. No family is perfect, but his home life was happy and typical. He played several different sports growing up.
But this story begins later, when Matt was in his mid 20’s. To an outsider, he seemed to have it all. Everything had seemed on track for him–he played high school football and had graduated. He had been away at college for a couple of years and had come home after he apparently decided he didn’t want to continue college. He was very, very handsome and the girls flocked to him like a magnet. He had the biggest, bluest eyes. He had a big infectious smile with perfect teeth. He literally could have been a male model. He seemed to have a great life ahead of him.He was friendly, polite, respectful. He always greeted me with a big smile and a hug.
Sharon and I had drifted apart for a few years, and we weren’t in contact that much when it first started. I don’t remember what actually led to us starting to be in contact again, but when we did, She began telling me of troubles with Matt and drugs.
He started out by abusing prescription opiate drugs. A few years into his journey with drugs, his mother showed me the prescription labels she had saved that showed that a doctor had been prescribing massive amounts of drugs like morphine, and Dilaudid to him. I don’t know how that got started –don’t know if he originally had an injury. But the way he became addicted to opiates is clear–an unscrupulous doctor who would end up going to prison for illegally prescribing controlled substances for cash. By the time that doctor went to prison, Matt was already a full blown addict at the age of 25.
When he could no longer obtain opiates legally from a doctor, he turned to heroin, like so many do.
By the time he died last Saturday, drugs had ravaged every ounce of his being, and his drug addiction had ripped through his family for 8 years like a vicious storm and there wasn’t much left but trauma and pain.I don’t really want to go into the whole dark story. I don’t know if I will. I feel like I have to, but probably not today. It’s not a happy story at all. Actually, it’s a horror story. Today was the funeral. I watched my best friend speak at her only child’s funeral. She looked really tired and sad. It has been a long, hard 8 years. Longer and harder than anyone that has never been affected by drug abuse could even begin to imagine.
Donald Trump has been President for a month now. I got sick with Pneumonia shortly after the Inauguration and the March on Washington and am still recovering. It started out as bronchitis and turned to Pneumonia at some point….I have never had Pneumonia in my life. It really put me out of commission for weeks–I had to cancel two trips that were planned.
I can’t speak for others but I know many people share my feelings on this: Life in America has become a nightmare with Trump as President. He’s insane. He’s irrational and hateful and a stone cold racist. Now he’s trying to shut down the press by saying they are enemies of the United States. My emotions go from rage to terror and depression, pretty much every day now. I am part of the Resistance and I will continue to be until either he is taken out of power or I die. My life has changed. Each day I am horrified by the things he says and does. I know that later, when he finally is no longer POTUS, there will be hundreds if not thousands of books written by historians about this very dark time in America’s history. There will be much speculation about how he rose to power and how Americans reacted to his terrifying rise to power.
I am not going to get in to Trump supporters. All I am going to say about that is, anybody that supports that despicable man has a screw loose or is a racist. A reasonable intelligent person would not support him. That’s all I have to say on that topic. Racists are now openly spreading their hate all over the country. They feel empowered by having one of their own in the most powerful position on earth. Hate crimes are escalating. Trump’s lies and hatred get more outrageous each day. Many speculate that as crazy as he is, he won’t be in power long. I pray they are right.
I know that most likely, things are going to get worse. My worst nightmare is happening. We are on the verge of losing our right to free speech, dissent, and a free press. I know that my participation in the Resistance could ultimately get me killed. If that is what happens, so be it. I refuse to hide and be silent. I won’t go down without a fight. I have no desire to be involved in any sort of violence, and strongly believe in peaceful protest and resistance.
I can’t and won’t give up this fight. I love my county and I will die for it if I have to. Many, many people feel the same. There has been an enormous uprising of people all over the country and actually the entire world, against this evil maniac. I pray for divine intervention before he destroys America and everything it stands for.
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
Frederick Douglass 1857
Yesterday I did one of the most important things I have ever done in my life. I took the DC metro to the Women’s March on Washington. It was the day after Donald Trump’s Inauguration. Nobody wanted to go with me so I went alone. It was a last minute decision. I woke up that morning and saw the people on TV gathering for the march, and I knew I HAD to go and be a part of history. I hastily made a sign with poster board paper I had in my house and got in my car and drove to Springfield.
It was a dreary, drizzly day and I was petrified about having to navigate the Metro by myself. I was so nervous on the way there. I wasn’t sure exactly where to get off, and it was getting a little late in the day so I kept thinking, I’m going through all this grief and there will probably be only a few pockets of people milling around by the time I get there. I got there around 2 pm.
But it was too late to turn back. I hopped off at the Federal Triangle metro station, still with plenty of doubt.I kept thinking I had made a foolish decision because it would be all over by the time I got there. I walked toward the street and as I approached, I saw lots of people on a bleacher (left over from the inauguration.) The bleachers were blocking the street so I couldn’t see what was going on until I walked around the bleachers –and what did I see? Hundreds of thousands of people marching in the street. Actually, now the estimated count is up to a million. A sea of people everywhere, many wearing pink hats. Thousands of signs being held up. The beautiful sight and sound of Democracy at work.
The scene was so awesome, it was indescribable. I was overcome with emotion and felt tears spring to my eyes. I had to hold back from bursting into tears. I was thinking, “Oh my God!” As far as the eye could see, from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington monument, the people were marching and yelling and singing and chanting. Women and men of all ages, mothers and their young daughters, elderly people being pushed in wheelchairs, babies in strollers…People of every race and nationality. The parade was a force in itself and I just jumped in and started walking, holding up my hand made sign. It said. “Fake President.”
There were so many creative, funny, serious signs…just reading the signs was so much fun. We all admired each other’s signs and posed for each other holding our signs.
After a while I made my way to the sidewalk where there was another bleacher looking out into the street. I stood at one of the highest bleachers so I could just take it all in. The parade marched on, slowly and boisterously. At intervals, the entire crowd would spontaneously burst out in loud cheers, as evidenced in this video I posted.
People were happy, peaceful..it was so wonderful to see that there were SO MANY people out there that felt strongly enough to fly on planes from California, Oregon, New York, to name a few, to participate in one of the largest marches on Washington in history. At the same time, hundreds of thousands were marching in cities all over the country, (not just the coasts!) and indeed, all over the world. It was Donald Trump’s first full day in office. And the American people spoke, loud and clear. The entire world spoke, loud and clear.
It was a joyous and exciting experience. We marched on the same streets that Martin Luther King marched on, the Vietnam war protests, thethe Civil Rights Marches, the Suffragettes….the most important historical events in our history. Their spirits were right there with us. We were exercising what makes America the greatest country in the world–the First amendment right to free speech. In the most sacred ground for Democracy–the Washington Mall. It was just a vast, colorful. beautiful sea of Americans who cared enough for their country to come and participate. If you look at pictures you can see how many were there, but to actually be there –it was a magnificent sight that I had never seen. Everybody was happy, friendly, excited to be a part of this massive outpouring. For the first time since election day when Donald Trump won, I felt real hope at that march. I saw that there are millions of us, all over the country, and all over the world.
It was a peaceful protest. I heard there were zero arrests. People sang, at times, “This land is your land”. We chanted things like, “hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go! I met a new friend from Portland, Oregon, while waiting on line to get back on the Metro. I have never been so proud of my country as I was at that march yesterday. Even the famous Gloria Steinham said she had never seen anything like it in here “very long life.” John Kerry was there. Madonna. Other celebrities, but I missed them all. I was just happy to see my fellow Americans out there being patriots for their country. God bless America.
I was born in Central America and lived there until I was five with my American mother and Panamanian father. When they divorced we moved to the U.S. to be closer to her family and friends. I became a Naturalized U.S. citizen when I was 7 years old. While I do have roots in Panama, and several relatives still there, I identify as an American much more than Latina. I grew up here…I was considered a Gringa when I lived in Panama because I look like my blonde haired green eyed mother. I have always been proud to be an American. Very proud, and count myself lucky that I have had the great fortune and privilege to have been raised and lived most of my life in this great country.
I remember, as a young teen, being in Panama visiting relatives when my sister and I decided to walk around parts of the city and look for our old house. I remember seeing armed soldiers walking the streets instead of police. I was struck by that because I wasn’t used to seeing that. During the reign of the despot, Manuel Noriega, I wasn’t there, but heard about some of my own relatives facing frightening situations with him as their leader. All of that seemed like a million miles from my typical middle class American life. I could never, in a million years, imagined anything like that….until Trump.
Since the election, I have been considering moving back to Panama after 50 years. What an irony–now, we are the ones facing a dictatorship and Panama has a stable government.
I have been struggling with feelings of rage since Trump got elected. Even after signing a dozen petitions, donating to the ACLU, calling many Senators and Congresspeople, making countless posts on Facebook –I feel totally powerless. Our voices are not only not being taken seriously right now, but also being mocked and laughed at. I know it’s going to get better eventually, but when?I just thought I would never see this day come in the U.S.
I am actually outraged that this happened..I felt like we were moving forward as a nation, that most people were pretty much on the same page with the direction we were going…and I believe most probably were. But it totally caught me off guard to see that there are THAT many people who are racist, misogynistic, ignorant, hateful…I’m shocked that Trump actually did awaken a huge segment of the population that was silent and angry–they hated our growing multiculturalism, tolerance , intellectualism, and basically liberal leaning society in general. I don’t why I’m shocked, though–seems pretty obvious now. I was just naive. I had no idea it was that many–I knew there were pockets of people all around that wanted to go back to a White man’s America..but I just didn’t get how many. It is making me re-think everything I have ever thought about this country.
I’m disappointed in America. I thought we had come so far. Our predecessors had to fight tooth and nail for all the wonderful freedoms and progress that has been made–from the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement, women’s equality, racial equality…we were still getting there, but look at the progress we made! We are one of the most socially advanced countries in the world. I am not trying to kid myself that Panama isn’t going to have plenty of its own prejudices. But at least they are not turning back their clock 50 years–75 years.
It has been about a month since the election. The world is still reeling from the shock of Donald Trump being the President-Elect. What the fuck happened? I know I am not alone in feeling this: The night of the election, at first I watched, excited about Hillary being voted the first female President. The polls had been telling us that was sure to be the outcome, right? Not too far into the election results coverage, things started looking a little alarming. But I told myself, don’t worry, many of the blue states haven’t been counted yet. Then, things started looking really alarming. I started having the first thoughts of, Oh shit, what’s happening here?
I still have the text from my Mom from that night so I know what time it was when the reality of Trump winning was inevitable. Around midnight, she said that she couldn’t bear to watch any more, and that I was incredibly brave to keep watching. But less than an hour later, I went to bed too. I couldn’t bear to hear them announce that Trump had won the election. I went to sleep praying that maybe a miracle would happen while I was sleeping. The next morning, I woke up and turned on the TV and confirmed that the unthinkable had happened. I was so heartbroken, and shocked, and actually, devastated….that day, I didn’t get out of bed until 1 pm. I never, ever stay in bad past about 9 am.
For the first week, I remained in deep shock and despair and grief. How, HOW, HOW did this happen! It just can’t be true. How could this rude, offensive, uneducated, bigoted wind bag, pervert who I’m sure jerked off after every rally because he was so enamored with himself, become POTUS?
I took to Facebook to express my outrage and grief, and saw that hundreds of thousands, even millions of people are just as outraged as me. We all said it felt like 9-11. Somehow, it did. It was the day our country and Democracy died. I have received two serious and very scary death threats on FB since the election, for speaking my mind about Trump. A person that I have been friends with for 35 years unfriended me on FB when I wrote a post that I would never support Trump.
So I happen to be sitting on my couch this very moment watching a dictatorship in progress. Even as I’m writing this, I got a popup from the Washington Post that Trump picked yet ANOTHER Wall street exec for his Cabinet. I wonder when Trump supporters are going to figure out they got the biggest con of their lives–he is already flaunting it in their faces.
I plan to go and protest in Washington on Inauguration day. I have signed countless petitions, for recounts, for the Electoral College to not vote for Trump, which was an eye opener in itself. I actually got back several automated and one not automated responses from different Electors which all essentially said, fuck you, Hail Trump! I have expressed my anger and outrage as much as I can without just annoying the hell out of everyone.
Yet this morning, I woke up with an ever bigger feeling of outrage than ever. This is the most outrageous thing that has ever happened in my life. And I have seen plenty of outrageous things. I just can’t swallow the deep sense of anger, disgust, and fear that I live with every day now. I’m doing as much activism as I can. But it’s not stopping this horror movie in progress…I have heard a lot of people say they feel like it’s a nightmare and when they wake up maybe it will all be better. I feel the same.
I think Americans got much too complacent about freedom and democracy–so somehow this traitor to America slipped in the most powerful gate in the world. Everything I write online, like this, I think someday if Trump does manage to destroy our freedoms, these very words could come back to bite me. But like the White Rose society in Hitler’s Germany wrote in one of their famous leaflets, “We will not be silenced! We are your worst conscience! The White Rose will not leave you in peace!” I will continue to speak out. I don’t care if someone is offended by my words. I am offended that 40 million people voted for the biggest, stinking bag of feces named Donald Trump. Most likely I will be moving to Central America within a year or less. I was born there, and although I am a naturalized U.S. citizen, I have dual citizenship and I’m going to use it.
I won’t stop fighting once I’m there–I’ll fight even harder. But I just can’t stay here and watch Americans let Trump hijack our country and all of the good and right things we stand for. Hopefully someday I can come back to my beloved country. But I won’t as long as it is run by fascists.