Pubdate: Thu, 02 Feb 2012
Source: Auburn Plainsman, The (Auburn U, AL Edu)
Copyright: 2012 The Auburn Plainsman
Author: Rebecca Croomes


You can't look me straight in the eye and tell me weed is "no big
deal." You can't, because all I can think of is walking down a hall,
looking at all the other families with their arms full of gifts--simple
things like new underwear, cookies or a book from home that hasn't
been read in a long time.

In other narratives like this people often say, "I don't know how we
came to this point," or ask "How could we end up here?" But as I
glanced around at the people and the building, which tried hard not to
be, but so obviously was a rehab clinic, I didn't pretend to be
stupid. It doesn't make me feel better.

Their eyes are tired. Tired from long nights of crying, worrying or
the anticipation of the return of somebody they thought had all but
died a long time ago.

At the end of the hall, there's a table. None of the gifts are
wrapped, because they would have to be opened by the wrong person
anyway. Sterile, gloved hands search for contraband: stuff that can be
torn apart and used by the patients to harm themselves, or get high.
Why anyone would think to bring those things is beyond me.

After checking in we walk through some double doors into the
cafeteria. There were drink machines, potted plants, plenty of natural
light coming through the windows--the only stark reminder of where you
are is a giant poster about "The Twelve Steps" screwed into the wall.

People shuffle in and out. There's more crying, hugging and awkward
pauses, because no one really knows what to say. We end up making
small talk with someone we love.

As we sit, I look around some more at the other people. They huddle
around their table and chit-chat.

We talk about everything else except the reason we came to see him. We
talk about what I'm doing in school, what the soccer team looks like
this year. The closest we come to discussing it is when we ask him how
he's feeling, how the group sessions are going, how long he has to
keep going to meetings once he leaves.

Outside it was sunny, but the mood was no different. We try to stay
under a shady tree and talk about all the things there are to do
outdoors. He asks if we can bring his disc golf bag and some
cigarettes next time.

As we get ready to leave I'm told not to look at him or wave goodbye--
some rule they told us that I still don't understand--but I can't help
myself. We see him smoking on the porch. He waves and so do I, only to
have my hand yanked back down.

Years have passed and I consider myself lucky to have come away from
that place without having lost him when some of the other people there
that day were not as fortunate.

Maybe you can control smoking marijuana. Maybe terminally ill people
need it to ease their pain. I don't buy the legalization arguments
enough to let it slide for the sake of any one person who decides to
destroy their life.

Whenever I hear about people getting into crazy things just because
they were high out of their gourd, my stomach churns. I just want to
sit down and tell them they don't need it. People are worth so much
more than they give themselves credit for, but they let themselves go
to waste while their friends and family stand around and watch.
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.