About half of the PBS special on Janis Joplin was over by the time I channel surfed into the program. I remember when I first started hearing about her, while I was living in California and I dismissed her work as that of just another screamer on the music scene. Then one day as I was rolling along in my little Volkswagen Bug, channel surfing on the radio, when that unique raspy voice came across the air belting out Bobbie Magee and I knew she had a new fan. Drugs seem to be a prevalent problem in musicians and actors who attain great fame early in life. I remember being disappointed when I heard that Janis Joplin died.
While I am not exactly what one might call a “groupie” and I have no vast collections of any particular genre of music, for me listening through the two minutes or so of a piece, sometimes even increasing the volume was my show of admiration. I was sad when I learned that Prince died of an apparent overdose of drugs, too. I always feel let down when a life is snuffed out before a person has lived more than a few decades. So much unfulfilled potential, never mind the vacuum that person leaves behind.
According to an Associated Press article by Kantele Franko, Ohio State troopers have seized seven times more heroin in the first half of 2016 than during the same period a year earlier. In another article by Sara Goldenberg, one Fairview Park, Ohio mom, who recently lost her son to Heroin, is calling for a state of emergency to fight the epidemic.
So this terrible business of death by opiate has gone from main stage to our backyards. It isn’t just the rich and famous who are dying by drugs of choice. Is it that there is no comprehension that playing with fire can lead to lethal ends, or is it that the addiction is so intense and so consuming that the person doesn’t think it can happen to him, or her? How is it that a young person is so oblivious to his own place in the world, his value to his family and community and friends, that none of those people figure in the decision to play this Russian roulette with life?
It was with a heavy heart that I listened to one of my cousins telling me of yet another sad demise, this one the 39 year old son of one of our first cousins. An affable young man, father of three, found dead in his bed by his father, who came to pick him up to go to work together.
The impact of this loss will certainly be seen as time goes by, and the ripple effects will reach across the wider expanse of our extended family.