On this day 30 years ago my cool, crazy, lovable uncle Melvyn died of an accidental heroin overdose at the age of 36. He’d been clean of the drug for a while and I don’t know what made him turn back to it on that occasion, but it is a sadly common occurrence amongst heroin addicts to overdose after being clear of the drug for some time. They get the dosage wrong as their body is no longer acclimatised and I guess the strength and potency can be different every time they buy it.
Melvyn, was a really popular guy with loads of friends. I remember being amazed at the number of people who came to his funeral. He was creative, a ladies shoe designer by trade and for a little while ran a successful shoe design and manufacture business before the disease of heroin addiction overtook his life.
It was so shocking for all of us when he died. I was 17 at the time and took it particularly badly. Only two weeks prior to his death Melvyn had taken me out for the day. I’d been going through a bit of a tough time myself, not handling relationships very well with all those teenage hormones racing through my body, drinking a bit too much and getting involved in the drug culture some of my friends were into. Melvyn gave me some great advice, how to stay safe and how to laugh at my relationship issues. Most importantly he listened and I could confide in him. I knew he’d be there if I needed him. When he died I felt betrayed and angry with him as well as heartbroken and overwhelmed by grief.
Within a few months, driven by a sense of pointlessness, I dropped out of school and started travelling. It was partly an escape but I also felt a calling to try and make sense of life and to see and experience as much of the world as I could. I was on a quest for beauty and meaning. My poor parents! Now I have an inkling of what I must have put them through. After a year or so I returned home and to education, but on my own terms, having realised that I needed to study if I ever wanted to work as more than a casual labourer.
I have ended up in my career as a hypnotherapist doing my best to support those who are anxious, depressed, ill or addicted. My personal life experiences have helped me to empathise and connect with my clients. I also never lost the desire to make the most of the limited time we have on earth, to stay close and take care of family and community and to travel and experience as much of the world as possible.
Melvyn is in my thoughts more than ever this year having lost my Grandma, his mother, only 3 months ago and a few days ago my eldest son turned 17, the same age I was when Melvyn died. I have high hopes for him but also some fears as I remember what it was like to be 17. Thankfully though, he appears to be much more stable than I was at that age 😊 Melvyn was a loving, caring and creative man, who made some big mistakes he was unable to recover from. He taught me a great deal.
So here’s to you Melvyn, may your memory be for a blessing.