It's been a struggle for me since my sister passed away; I have gone through all the stages of grief and still have yet to heal. The thing about grief is that it kind of does its own thing. Will I ever heal from the loss of someone so very important to me? My nephew messaged me yesterday, and we haven't talked in a while; he told me Slim had died. He died back in March, and I hadn't been told; I missed his funeral. I never got a chance to say goodbye to my friend.
I met Slim in the summer of 1996; it might've been closer to fall, I can't completely remember. Anyway, Slim was this tall, skinny, rough-around-the-edges-looking kind of guy. Not intimidating by any means; however, you could just tell that he'd been through it; we hit it off instantly. Slim sold heroin on the corner of Chicago Avenue and Ridgeway; he was a hustler, just like me. It didn't take long for us to earn each other's mutual respect. He knew my money was right, and I knew the dope was good. Yet it was more than that; we became friends, and Slim taught me the ropes. He taught me how to survive that game, how to be a Junky, and still have a good heart. Slim was that guy that everyone went to when they needed their shit. There's a reason for that; he played the game fair, as fair as an old Junky like him could.
I don't use the word Junky with any sort of disrespect; it's rather a term of endearment in certain instances. This is one of those instances. The world of drugs has a sort of inner hierarchy, especially if you remain in the same area. Slim was an old head, he was in his forties, and I was 22. I was so very new to this life and the world of heroin; I guess you could say that he was my guide. Slim saved my life! People really don't understand when I talk about the people from my past. They don't understand how you can form a bond in a world of betrayal, the world of heroin. People use the word Junky because they feel how they feel about addicts. They're junk, just discarded garbage, liars and thieves, hookers not to be trusted. I have been to all of those things at one point in my life. The thing is, I was given cocaine at the age of 11 and molested more times than I can count at that point. I was created by the same society that cast me out. Just like Slim, my sister, and every other addict I have ever met. In our own way, we become family.
There are a few people that I think about often, wondering if they're alive or dead, knowing that I will never see them again. In the world of heroin, the last thing most of us wanted was to be alone. We just didn't fit in this world; most days, I feel like I still don't. That's how these bonds are formed; broken people gravitate to broken people. Slim was 71 when he passed away, and I don't know if the man ever truly experienced life. His world was the block; wherever he was living or hustling, that was all he would ever be remembered as. Nothing but a dead ex-con addict who never amounted to shit. Well, I can tell you that part of the reason I am alive writing this blog today is because of this man. This blog isn't to memorialize him; it's more so to point out that he was much more than the world ever gave him credit for.
There are so many moments where I look at all the people that I have lost along the way, and I am overwhelmed. Some of that is because I miss them and the moments they gave me. Mostly it is because almost all of them died the way Slim and my sister did, and that is without ever having lived. The world of heroin is just that. It's a world of broken people. Not all of these people are good, and most of them will never know the taste of the rain. The beauty of a sunrise through the eyes of freedom will forever evade them. They will know no happiness or escape from the hell that was cast upon most of them. They will be judged by the courts and by society by their families, yet none more harshly than themselves. This will forever be their legacy, their stories untold, their victimizers pardoned by society. I am sad for them all; I know what it feels like to exist amongst the shadows only to be acknowledged in a negative manner.
Today I am blessed to understand that I will always grieve the loss of the ones I love the most. I don't want to forget them; I want to feel their void, to hear their laugh. I will love them for the rest of my days. They will be my reminder of what the cost of quitting looks like. I will live and teach my children how to do the same. I will love with all that I have and cry when I need. I will get angry and frustrated and tired as fuck. But I will not quit for as much as I miss you; I have some more living to do. When we meet again, it will not be in the world of heroin. Thank you for all that we shared in life, and mostly, your death will forever be my reminder to keep living.