A Silent Sorrow

The Underwood family, summer 1990
July 6 marked our twenty-year journey from the phone call that reduced our family of five to four. I never know what to do with the day as it approaches. Other than prayer, a personal ritual of remembrance has not naturally arisen from my firstborn’s grave.
I don’t know what to do with myself, either. It’s odd to walk upon this earth while my child does not. The cycle of death is out of order. I do my best to adjust, remember funny and fulfilling moments my daughter bred within and without our household. No matter my efforts, the veil over the empty place at our table cannot hide the beautiful life destroyed by addiction.
Without warning, a flashback recalls a visit to a rehab center, the drama of recovery and relapse—the horror of transformation from track and cross-country champion to criminal to corpse.
 For eight years, I followed my daughter up her mountain of disillusionment, but couldn’t catch her when she fell—I lost her whereabouts in the wilderness. As other parents who walk this loathsome path testify, this is a common conclusion to an addict’s life.
Forgive me, dear Reader, for this dark subject. If I were you, I would turn away and take up my dulcimer instead, or walk my country road to ease my mind and spirit from painful truth.
Yet, in the heart of this homestead sweet with birdsong, there’s a solitary, silent sorrow that must speak for the legions who bear it. They include extended family members, dear friends, neighbors, co-workers, and fellow volunteers in community service I do and do not know, who climb this mount of woe with me.
I’ve heard few voices who speak truthfully about our country’s fatal attraction with pharmaceuticals and alcohol. In my daughter’s case, the chemical interaction of the two stopped her young, athletic heart. And it all began with marijuana at Hillsdale College. Some call that recreation.
Neglected in literature, our press, and political dialogue, who dares reveal and prosecute the sources of America’s drug traffic, our corporations, politicians, and law officials who harvest the profit?
I don’t know what Cincinnati’s newspaper printed about my brother-in-law’s nephew who passed this July 6 from an overdose. Perhaps the same line or two the Lexington newspaper published when our daughter left us twenty years ago. I couldn’t speak when my sister called the very date with the dreadful news. More flashbacks.
Depending on the deceased’s celebrity status, drug deaths have become passé or romantic to Americans, and to many youth, heroic. Anyone who searches for facts will discover, “Drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States, ahead of motor vehicle deaths and firearms” (cns.news.com, for one source).
It’s redundant to ask why, then, gun control persists to lead the news. I must think upon whatever is a good report, set my eyes upon the Celestial City. High above our sick, beloved country, I believe, my daughter waits. Forgiven. Healed. Risen.