I was originally going to cover all the drama of Eternal Masters but there have already been some great articles on the subject and I don’t have anything productive to add to this conversation right now.  So instead I decided to write about something entirely unrelated to Magic and the reason why I didn’t post an article last week.

Two weeks ago my best friend’s brother passed away at the age of 29.  He was fighting a terrible disease that has become an epidemic in this country.  That disease was a drug addiction.  James* is not the only person to have passed away over the last few weeks in the area where he grew up and was visiting. There have been dozens of deaths due to a lethal strain of heroin in the area known as ‘Hollywood Heroin.’

James had been clean after leaving the state, attending rehab, receiving treatment for his depression and falling in love.  He was really thriving.  Unfortunately James temporarily had no health insurance and therefore was without his anti-depressants.  When he returned to the state to take care of personal business he found himself both alone and depressed.  He relapsed and passed away that night.  The system ultimately failed him like it has so many others.

The image of his mother, father, and sister as their beloved son and brother was lowered into the ground is forever burned into my mind.  It was freezing out and all I had on was a sweater but honestly I couldn’t feel the cold.  The only thing I noticed was the pain in my best friend’s eyes.  I spent a week at their home cooking, cleaning, crying and comforting. None of it helps.  I just found myself with more images, like his mother and sister crying at the kitchen table.  Or laying in bed with them reading a card from him that left all of us in quiet tears.

For those fortunate enough to never have had to stare the effects of addiction directly in the eyes I can understand how easy it might be to ignore this growing problem.  But I cannot. The pain those I love dearly has suffered through is burned into my mind and heart forever.  The growing stigma toward the treatment of those who suffer from this awful disease is heartbreaking.  For the lucky ones who have avoided this pain I ask please to think of his sister who has been working tirelessly to get a masters degree in social worker to help people like her brother.  Think of his mother who had to find her son dead in his bedroom.  Think of his girlfriend who loved him dearly.  Think of the beautiful 29 year old boy who died too young.

Addiction is a disease that cannot and should not be fought by one person or family. It is a disease that needs to be fought by whole communities.  We need to educate our children, support those who are suffering and fight for improvements to our healthcare and law enforcement systems.  No one deserves to suffer like this.  James was a truly wonderful and caring person who was loved by many.  Please help me honor him and his family by supporting change to how we treat addiction.

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the family.

Kate hails from Worcester MA and also does a bit of Card Altering. Check her Stuff out on Facebook! She mainly plays legacy and modern though will occasionally find herself playing EDH or Standard if she’s desperate.

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