I didn’t know you, but I’ve been thinking about you for the past week, since you came up missing. I was following the story – and so was the rest of Michigan. I saw a picture of you with my friends at an NA convention over the winter. I thought you could probably be my friend too. When a drug addict comes up missing, any number of things could happen. I was hoping you were just hiding out in some bad neighborhood in Detroit, which is the best case scenario, but sadly that was not the case. They found your body today. You know this because you were watching and waiting when they finally found you. You were watching and waiting while your sister flew in from out of town to look for you. You were watching and waiting when your family and friends posted “Missing” flyers on telephone poles. You were watching and waiting when memes flooded the internet. The whole Michigan recovery community watched and waited too; waited for you to come back to the rooms, waited for you to come back and surrender, we waited to hug you again.
Elizabeth, maybe it’s selfish that I want to talk to you. You have friends and family and people from all over who love and care about you, but I wish you could sit down with me and tell me what happened, because I’ve been clean for over 13 months and I go to recovery conventions too. It wasn’t long ago that I was in treatment and started going to meetings, and I keep on seeing my friends week after week turn into Facebook memorials. Liz, I feel such pain and sorrow in my heart and my mind for you and your family and I just want to know what I can do so I don’t have to die too. I was addicted to heroin, crack, xanax, and alcohol for over ten years; woke up on my floor alone, woke up in the hospital, woke up in my car with a needle hanging out of my arm and I just can’t fathom why I’m still alive and you aren’t. Believe me, it’s not because I deserve it.
Liz, I never met you but I’ve been reading about you for the past week and I think you would’ve been my friend. I wanted to write you last week and tell you its okay to come back. I wanted to tell you that everyone makes mistakes. People relapse, people lie, people get into fights, but you got to come back. Liz, I know you will never get this letter, but, I believe you’re in a better place and you can hear all the kind words people are saying about you. They talk about your warm heart and how your presence brings joy. Maybe you can see the pain in my face as I’m writing this to you. Liz, I know I never met you, but I kind of feel like I knew you. I don’t think I will ever forget you. I never got to say hello and I’m sorry that I have to say goodbye.
With ever-loving care and compassion,
An addict named Gabe