you're more than heroine

                                                                                                                                                                   Rest in Peace, Kofo

                                                                                                                                                                  Rest in Peace, Kofo

Where do we go?

Do we stay here? Do our souls leave us? Do we exist elsewhere? Have we always been existing elsewhere?

Recently, an old high school friend of mine died of a heroine overdose.

A lethal drug, a lethal decision, far too young.

Matt will never have a family of his own. Matt will never get the opportunity to grow old with someone he loves. Matt will never have a chance to see the magic of childbirth or take care of his sick spouse some day.

Matt will never experience a honeymoon, or a child’s joy on their birthday or Christmas. Maybe in this other universe he will, I don’t know. I pray for it and I cross my fingers that another reality without pain exists somewhere.

Matt was an interesting guy. He had two sides. On one side, he was one of the most loyal, kind people I’ve ever met. On the other, darkness lay ahead and you never quite knew what you were going to get. Matt grew up in a tough situation, but I didn’t know this until way later in life. He just never gave off that vibe. He oozed confidence and connection with others and always gave me the best new music to download and new artists to follow.

There was just something about him.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but Matt or “Kofo” as everyone called him, possessed this certain level of energy that I always yearned to learn more about and to follow.

Matt and his buddies were a year older than me in school. They were so confident. Kofo and I always used to crush on the same girls, and I remember one time, he confronted me about it. I was honest and upfront and told him the truth. I remember how he responded — I can’t quite remember what he said, I just recall that he respected my honesty and knew I wasn’t going behind his back. I told him we vibed on the same girls, and hell, it’s high school, and weird shit happens.

Kofo was as loyal as they come. If he heard someone was messing with me or picking on me, he’d do anything to ensure it didn’t happen again. He kind of took me under his wing the more I think about it. He was an older cousin or big brother figure in my life growing up. It’s weird, but I watch enough movies and read enough books and listen to enough older folks talk about friends slipping away and life taking its different twists and turns, that it’s hard to think about when you’re living in it.

Yet, this entire time, Matt and I were just slipping further and further away from each other. Our interests, our life decisions, our luck, our upbringings, our jobs — yet, when I saw him for the first time in a few years a month ago, none of that mattered. It was like we never missed a beat. It was almost surreal, really.

Kofo was a crazy cat. He was tough and never backed down from anyone. He was the best dude to play hoops with because he just never stopped. He’d guard you up and down the court, steal the ball when you least expected it, hit a three to tie up the game or come to the bench bright red and pissed off at the refs or some bullshit an opposing player said to him the possession before. It was sort of contagious, though. He made you want to be something, man. He made losing a JV basketball game seem like the end of the world, and really, in his mind, it was. He just gave that kind of effort every single day.

Kofo was also a teacher. He taught me how to be comfortable in my own skin, how to talk to girls, how to stand up for myself, how to drink beers, how to find the best rap music, how to ride with the windows down in the summertime and so much more. I don’t know if I’d ever have thought about Matt providing all of those teaching moments during my high school days until way later in life, but now, it’s all I can really think about.

Last, Matt was not heroine. He was not the powerful drug that consumed him. He was a human being with complex emotions, situations, decisions, goals, days, and so much more. I don’t know all of the specifics of his involvements, and truthfully, they do not matter to me. Matt might have been mixed up in the wrong shit, but I knew a guy who cared about my friends and I growing up, and that is all that matters to me.

High school is a tough time. You resent your parents and try to find your identity and even lose some elementary and middle school friends along the way. One minute you’re friends with Michael from Math class and the next, you’re friends with John from baseball, and your whole crew has sort of changed. That’s how I feel now. One second I’m with Matt hanging out having a great time and the next, we’ve both lost touch, and only know of each other through gossip and our past memories with one another.

Fuck heroine. I hope this post and my pictures of Matt and our time together can help people remember the good times and continue to remember these for the rest of our lives. We need to do something about this drug taking the lives of our friends, our sons, our daughters, our brothers, our sisters, our cousins, our aunts, our uncles, our dads, our moms — we must love more. We must ask tougher questions. We must do more.

My friends and I have been talking about heroine a lot the past year, but truthfully, I never felt I would lose someone that meant so much in my life from it. Maybe that’s just naivety or refusal, but now I have lost someone close to me and I’m not okay with that. How can I be?

We must show the light to those addicted and living in the dark.

Thinking back on our own lives, I’m sure all of you have lived through some pretty dark moments or stages. I know I have. I went through a pretty bitter stage in my life where I resented friends who were more “successful” than me.

I resented where I lived and what I did for a living and how I got to where I was, and it took me quite some time to dig myself out of that negative hole. Everywhere I went, these dark thoughts of failure and death consumed me, and it was a tough journey.

Now, it’s difficult for me to imagine the negative hole and constant dark energy that Matt lived in, but I think it’s time I do more to learn to see if I can help. Maybe the music I’ve been listening to and medicating with over the years can help an addict find a way out. Maybe. Maybe not. But I sure as hell believe it is worth a shot to see.

Rest In Peace, Kofo. You are gone from our lives, but never forgotten. I hope by telling this story, we can save someone from losing their life, and all of the precious memories that come with it.