He Would Have Been a Senior
This year, Gavyn would have been a senior and, ultimately, would have succeeded in becoming a high school graduate. Instead of celebrating one of his most significant achievements with him, we are in the early stages of figuring out how to pick up the pieces after every part of our lives has been shattered. There is no easy way to put it.
According to the toxicology report, fentanyl, one of the most powerful drugs ever created, was the cause of my son's accidental overdose, but as his father, I know it is much more complicated than that. Family trauma, adverse childhood experiences, generational cycles of addiction, mental illness, societal norms, peer pressure, isolation, disconnection, and various systemic problems are a few of the underlying issues, which doesn't go without highlighting the makers and distributors, from dealers to pharmaceutical companies, who have notoriously fueled the opiate crisis in America, leveling so many communities across the country. And yet, I also realize that each of us has a unique intrinsic responsibility for our own lives. Asking ourselves how we can better prevent addiction or make sure that substances like fentanyl stops killing people who never intended to take it in the first place may be good places to start.
As we begin a new school year, I cannot help but think about those families that are suffering like mine. I think about the parents like me who are at a loss for words, constantly wading in the water, the muck and the mess, hoping that wind still sets their sails free to carry them off in the right direction. I think about the countless students, peers, friends, and those that are connected to Gavyn and how they may navigate this new year without him by their side. I also begin to think about the beauty that this year could have and will bring over time. So here I sit, constantly in the duel between what is and what could have been. Where do we go from here?
For many people, 2020 has already been so difficult. While I don't know what my future holds, I believe there is one. Yes, it will be challenging to move forward, but I know we will persevere. Today, maybe more than ever, we all must raise our voices, share our stories, embrace radical change, and work together to create a long-lasting impact that will better support our families and the generations to come. So this is a call to all the great orators, writers, creators, the builders, the social justice warriors, advocates, students, teachers, parents, families, and friends. We ALL are being called to something greater. Let this year be a year of great change and monumental action. If you can't do it for yourself personally, then especially do it for others, for the youth like my son Gavyn. Give them more than a chance, but instead, give them equal opportunities to thrive and watch our communities grow out of these unprecedented times.
p.s. I really miss seeing my son putting out his clothes, especially those new shoes, for the first day of school. Although, I know he's looking better than ever-smiling down on us all.