Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Wednesday's Post

February 22, 2012

Remembering the bad to cherish the good

Feb. 22, 2012 —     As keepsakes go, it’s a bit unusual. I carry it to remind me each day of denial, of pain, of joy and of hope.

    Not everyone’s pocket contains an old contact lens case as a daily reminder of an unending life-and-death struggle.

    Actually, it’s only half of a contact lens case, the side marked with an “L” for the left eye.

    But to me, that plastic letter stands for love because that’s what binds me to an ongoing five-year struggle to save loved ones from drug addiction.

    At the suggestion of my practically-minded wife, who shares this parental path with me, I also use the little round device to hold the four pills I take each day after lunch.

    Often when I pull it out of my pocket, someone will ask why I’m carrying pills in a contact lens case.

    My first response is that I carry the little case so that I will never forget that the best place to hide something is in plain sight.

    That’s because I know the container was used many times to conceal illegal painkillers from frantic parents desperately searching rooms, clothes and vehicles for evidence of what they couldn’t bring themselves to accept – that a child reared in their home was addicted to drugs and that they would lie, cheat and steal to feed the demon that held them captive.

    My second comment about the little case is that it reminds me to be constantly alert to signs of a relapse, as often happens with recovering addicts.

    Parents of an addict learn to look more closely into their eyes for signs of impairment, to listen more carefully for slurred speech, to notice if their sleeping or eating habits change, to engage in extended conversation to test comprehension, and, finally, to discreetly check for residue on surfaces where they used to crush pills for snorting.

    My third response is that the legal medicines I carry in that case are constant reminders of a journey that never ends. 

    I realize that – like the diabetes and other conditions I must cope with for the rest of my life – their personal fight against drug addiction also will be a lifelong journey.

    Each time I read or hear about someone else becoming ensnared by drugs, I find myself instinctively reaching into my pocket for the little plastic case, much like a child clutching a security blanket.

    Somehow, it reassures me that those I love actually are recovering and – with God’s tender mercy – there is real hope for all of us.

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