I will never forget the day my uncle Mack (short for Malcolm) overdosed the first time. This was the uncle that gave me my love for beaches because every summer he would scout out a different beach for all of us to vacation. Me and my family, Uncle Milt and his family, my uncle Mac and his family, would go away for a weekend and have a blast (I’ll see if I can find the pic of all of us…I have several). When we were not hanging out at the beach, I was hanging out with him around Georgia Ave, in NW. He was a barber. He would use his extra money to get my brother and I clothes, whatever was “in”. I’ll never forget a sapphire ring he gave me once…pure gold too. He was a big kid who loved to watch WWF and Woody Wood Pecker. He was just fun. He was a free spirit, who sometimes when we got home at night from Bible study or whatever, would be sleep on our back porch for no apparent reason. Or would climb our fence randomly to get in the pool. He was just so cool.

Uncle Mac lived with my grandmother and she rushed him to the hospital one day when he was not breathing in his sleep. I was just about 10 years old. He pulled through, and I visited him in the hospital and wrote him a letter begging him to give his life to God. He read the note, looked at me with a grin and said, “Nika, I’ll be alright.”

4 years later, my mom, brother, dad and I were on our way from lunch one Saturday and we decided to stop by my grandmother’s house. My grandmother was at the screen door when we drove up. We got out of the car and she looked worried. My mom asked what’s wrong? She told us the police had come by and said they had uncle Mac. We all thought that maybe he’d been arrested for drug possession. The really kind officer, told my grandmother he would come back when someone else was home. Well as soon as we got into the house and sat in the living room, the officer came back. My dad and Uncle Milt (who was also there…uncle Milt was always “there”), went on the porch and my dad asked was Mac ok. The officer said, (and I can still hear it ringing in my ears) “No sir, he’s dead.” My mom screamed. My grandmother was inside and wasn’t sure (or maybe she was) what he said. They came in the house and told her he was dead. She fell out into my Uncle Milt’s arms, and as he caught her, he was literally wailing. My brother punched into the wall, and I sat there cold….The grief of that day still weighs heavy on my heart even though it’s been 30 years since it happened. And as I watched his best friend and others die for the same reasons, I NEVER felt any concern from our government…ever. No one seemed to care about how it almost broke my grandmother’s heart, almost destroyed the life of his son (who STILL wrestles with this loss) or anything.

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