He taught all of us many things, about how to live life, of making the right decisions, what to do and what not to do, what boundaries to cross. Almost any clichť could have applied to the lessons that we all learned through him, during what we all went through while witnessing the consequences of the life choices he made.
The lessons we learned were by example, for he never sat down with us and talked to us after a fashion. What he taught us was that how by seeing the direct causes and effects of many of the situations he was to become involved in led to some very dark and extremely serious ramifications. No classroom could have served us any better.
He was the one who had too much too soon, lived life too fast and too hard and took too many chances. He was the Roman candle that flames out, the shooting star that streaks across the nighttime sky only to disappear into the darkened void. He was the one who could do just about anything he wanted to, brilliant, smart, talented and able to fix almost anything except for himself.
During the darkest times many years ago as he struggled with a drug addiction of the worst kind, every aspect of his life seemed to become compromised. The downward spiral that he embarked upon took its toll not only on himself, but also on anyone who knew him and cared about him. In the depths of this nightmare we all saw firsthand his life unravel before our very eyes.
He wasnít a bad person; on the contrary he was really a good guy and never did anything in a mean spirited way. He was actually kind hearted and willing to help others, often times doing things for folks on the street and us if anyone needed a hand. Thatís what was the most frustrating part of the whole ordeal, to know that someone of his good-natured demeanor would fall into that kind of black abyss.
After a time he replaced the drugs with alcohol, which was just as bad in itís own way because the manifestation remained the same yet the demons that took his soul still held sway over him. On the paths he took there would be no return even though he made some desperate efforts to make his life right again. The damage was done and we would never be able to get him back.
By the time he died he was just a shell of what he once was, his body ravaged with the years of abuse. Did we do enough as a family to try to help him break the addictions? Would anything we could have done been enough? But it might have not been enough because he couldnít find the strength within himself. I guess that was the main lesson we learned; if you canít do it for yourself, no one can.
As I reflect on those days now, a wistful contemplation has replaced any of the sadness or regret that I once had. Itís been so many years since heís been gone, and yes, time truly is the great healer. We all still miss him very much, and we all know we were not at all unique in the experience that our family went through back then. Yes he taught us many valuable lessons, and imparted a knowledge not found in books or in school.
Our Teacher, Dave.