Thursday 14 December 2017

Only flesh and blood can know

Twenty-five years ago my sister died of a heroin overdose. There was a newborn baby in a basket, a toddler and a 15-year-old son all in the house at the time. I cannot explain to anyone who has never been directly involved just how catastrophic the impact was.

The lies, the chaos, the stealing, the medical issues -- all of it, there are no words I could ever find to fully explain the combination of despair and mind-melting anger that is part and parcel of watching someone destroy their own life and the lives of all their family through long-term heroin addiction.

Ian O'Doherty encapsulated it pithily and brilliantly in his column. The priest is merely an outsider looking in, no matter how involved he is or thinks he is. If it's not your flesh and blood -- or in my case an only sister, four years older and a one-time champion-level swimmer -- then you are simply looking through a window at a problem.

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