I used to debate wearing the colorful string bracelets I had stacked on my wrist. “Friendship bracelets.” For awhile after I quit my job, and all of its associated crises and elevated cortisol levels, these simple strings encircled my wrists like fetters. I wanted to cut them off sometimes. I couldn’t.
Because when I wasn’t wallowing in delayed self-pity, I would look down and remember each precious (and angry and annoying and stubborn and wildly inspiring) soul who lovingly crafted something pretty. A token of thanks to a staff member they didn’t have to love, but somehow did.
Two days ago, I found out one of them overdosed on heroin. She used to hug me all the time, even though I only subbed in for her own staff once or twice. She was full of life. One of the vivacious, sassy, vibrant ones. She could be a huge pain in the ass. But she loved fiercely.
I look down as I’m tying my shoe, or making change for a customer, or testing the temperature of milk for the baby. I see those colors tied to my wrist, still, months later. I see M****. I see each of those faces. Those eyes. Those laughs. Those struggles. Those stories. They are lives, now. Lives that might be cut short too soon, way too soon, by designer poisons in glamorized needles and bottles and baggies, promising lies that chase the ghosts away.