A Light in the Addict.
As he rested hopelessly on the dusty carpeted floor, the apartment that stunk of rotten food and rat poop; surrounded by used up needles, I couldn’t fathom how anybody could live like this.
He’d been a high achiever, fallen from grace after life took a sharp turn and stripped of his dreams of pursuing an athletic career.
The needles lay, like lego bricks, to be avoided being stepped on — I felt disgusted and a little over-judgemental of what I’d just encountered.
There wasn’t much to be explored and it must have been a lot easier to say, “It’s just another addict, what do you expect?”.
I got a phone call a few days after the encounter to come visit with him in the rehab; he’d wanted to thank me.
I’d relentlessly avoided the task, because I wouldn’t be able to come to terms with someone I couldn’t relate to.
After numerous attempts, I finally succumbed to the request and made my way to meet the erroneous character.
He asked an eerie question, one which I didn’t know the answer to;
“What’s your blood type?”
“I don’t know. I never bothered.”, said I.
“Mine’s O type Negative. Learn a lot from needles.”, he confessed.
I didn’t know much about blood types, or of how rare they were.
He said it made him special.
I couldn’t understand why.
“O Negative means I’m a Universal Donor. My Blood could help save a life.”, he murmured as he fixated his gaze on the floor.
He suggested I ought to find out mine.
I told him I would, I never bothered — I’ve always been scared of needles.
“They said you’re making progress here. Looks like you might be getting better soon. You’ve made friends here, I heard…”, I gave it my best attempt to make sense of the conversation.
“What about you? You’re a friend. Saved my life, didn’t you?”, he replied.
“I was just a guy who got asked to help out, man. I didn’t save anybody’s life. People here at the Rehab do that.”, hoping it would be end of the conversation soon.
“So anyways, I don’t know know what I’ll do after this. I was hoping you could help me something, you know? If it ain’t too much of an ask…”, he asked with a tenacity, that I couldn’t bring myself to refuse his request.
He’d asked if I could help him get into the Blood-Donation program; help get professionals involved in cleaning up his system for him to be considered a donor.
“I have to do this, man. You gotta help me.” — His last words of hope latching onto me to make my best attempt.
I returned to the office, unable to concentrate — I left early and drove home.
Took a valium and fell asleep, hoping to wake up with a sense of clarity.
Upon being woken up, I thought of a friend who was involved with certain charitable organisations — and although her path had now taken a more political turn, I was hoping her contacts could help me figure out some sort of solution for the request he’d made.
“Blood-Donors don’t take addicts, buddy. He’d have to get clean — it takes at least 5 Years to do that.”, was her response to my request.
“There’s gotta be a way, a safer method. I think he really wants to do this…I’d appreciate if we can figure something out for him.”, I said with a false sense of hope.
A glimmer of hope appeared and an opportunity presented itself; he’d have to work hard — establish himself, and he could be enrolled into the Blood-Donation Program.
Five-Years was the plan.
I returned to the rehab, met up with him and had a chat about my findings.
He never made eye-contact with me.
Rubbing his arm, souvenirs of his past decisions.
“They’ll make it work.” — I told him.
“Thanks, mate.”, is all he had to say.
“Your apartment doesn’t smell like rat-shit anymore. It’s been cleaned up. No more needles on the floor.”, I remarked, hoping to continue the conversation.
“Got rid of the carpet too, did they? Always hated the bloody thing.”, He joked.
“Nah I think, they thought the carpet was just fine. Just a bit dusty, the cleaned it.”, I joked back.
“I was a bit dusty too, hey? Cleaned me up didn’t they…?”, with a smile of his face.
“I think they did.”, I said, as we shook hands and I departed.
Time had passed and I hadn’t checked up with him in a while, until recently when I was informed he’d overdosed.
He’d donated enough blood to save a few lives, he’d been awarded for his bravery.
The carpet seemed dustier now, even though it was wiped clean; no needles to be found.
Just a body, lay still; much like how I’d found it the first time I’d met him.
Except this time it didn’t have a pulse.
His heard had stopped beating, but his blood would live on; forming a life of it’s own — continuing to give life after his departure.
The image still remains the same, only I’d failed to see it’s real meaning.
The purpose has always been the same, from the day that I met him to the day that I witnessed his departure — he’d never hoped to live.
He’d hope to leave this world with something to give rather than all that he’d taken from it.