By Lori Welch Brown
An Ordinary Luxury
On a recent Saturday morning as I was deciding whether or not to use tap or distilled water in my Neti pot, another woman was attempting to absorb the news that her only daughter had died of a heroin overdose just hours before. I’m aware of the news reports about the heroin epidemic, I’ve watched Intervention since its debut (amazing show, btw), and personally know people who struggle with addiction, yet it still rocks me to my core when I hear about people overdosing. I didn’t know this young woman—she was just 32 years old. She was the niece of a friend of mine. I know only a few details. She left behind a mother and brother who adored her, as well as a 12 year old daughter who is being raised by her dad and stepmom. She had been in a hotel room with a ‘friend’ who called 911. Medics tried to revive her, but it was too late. She had been struggling with her addiction since she was 18—almost half her life. When people asked her what her drug of choice was, she answered, “more.” I feel so badly for all involved, but I feel relieved for ‘her’ because she is at least free from the horrible existence that is addiction.
I’ve written about addiction previously so I will refrain from getting up on my soapbox—and you and I both know that won’t help the addicts out there. What I will do is tell you what her death meant to me personally. This person, whom I had never met, opened my eyes to a couple of things. First off—It got me thinking about the true meaning of friendship because as far as I’m concerned, no ‘friend’ will ever call 911 from a hotel room for you because you’ve overdosed. For starters, a true friend would never be in that room with you. A true friend would have cut you off long before you ever got to that room because a true friend wouldn’t be able to sit idly by and watch you slowly kill yourself. Just sayin’.
Secondly, this person, whom I did not know, opened my eyes to the beauty of my ordinary life. I’ll never look at my Neti pot the same way again. Seriously. How fortunate am I that I have this daily routine that includes such simple luxuries? I sleep soundly on a comfortable mattress with fluffy blankets beside a man who loves me. We sleep in our little slice of heaven surrounded by a three year old boxer/collie mix who often snores as loudly as my husband, XXL. We are awakened most mornings around 4:00 AM by our cat, Macey, who likes to be scratched under her jowls at that particular time. It is her favorite and I can’t deny her this simple pleasure. A cup of hot, black coffee awaits me as soon as my feet hit the floor each morning. Coffee in hand, I make my way to our sunroom where I quietly sit contemplating the day ahead.
My days are not without stress—some days I have to fit in grocery shopping, trips to the vet, and laundry on top of work. I have deadlines and bills to pay. I often have to skip my weekly yoga class in order to check something pressing off my ‘to do’ list. My joints ache and I see my hairdresser more than most of my friends because the gray comes around more frequently than they do. Just the other day, I picked up a nail in my tire which almost made me late for a very important meeting. Some days include traffic gridlock (stupid accidents!) and rude people. I was recently at my local Safeway in the checkout line behind a man who was on a work conference call the entire time—using his speaker phone. After five minutes of being held captive by him, his boss, and a co-worker as they dissected last week’s accounts payable log, I seriously considered assaulting him with my head of cabbage. I could go on and on.
Whatever is going on in my blissfully ordinary little existence, I can tell you with confidence that my stress is nothing compared to that poor girl. Imagine the stress of living for a high every damn day. Imagine the stress of keeping so many lies going. Imagine. I can’t, and that’s what makes it so hard. I can’t imagine what her life was like because it is in such stark contrast to my very blessed life. While I am making light of my daily ‘stress,’ even in times of ‘real’ stress, it doesn’t hold a candle to what this woman and/or her family endured. Let’s not leave out the family—they are the ones who carry the real stress of worry, concern, and fear.
While none of us wants to be ordinary, please take a moment to embrace the simple, ordinary pleasures of everyday life. Ever since I heard of this woman’s passing, simple and mundane tasks like doing the dishes and putting away the laundry seem like luxuries I have been afforded.
Happy Easter, everyone!