This morning I did what I do most “lazy” mornings, upon coming into semi-consciousness: I turned on my phone, and opened up one of the far-too-many social media apps to see if anything interesting had happened while I was sleeping.
The first post I saw on Facebook was from my cousin: “Cory Monteith AKA Finn Hudson is dead!”
That woke me up quickly.
My first response whenever I see a post like this is to try and find a legitimate source, so that’s exactly what I did next, and sadly, it didn’t take long to find several.
After a night of shock and awe over the events in Florida, this felt like another kick to the gut. I love Glee, and Cory Monteith, by all accounts that I’ve read, was a sweet, caring guy. He was only 31.
Most posts expressed similar shock and sadness, but I wasn’t surprised when I saw one random tweet to the effect of, “Why feel sorry for some guy who was stupid enough to take drugs?”
It happens every time, doesn’t it? Someone has a history of addiction – whether they were clean at the time or not (because we do not know what happened yet) and so when they die young “they had it coming.”
It upsets me; not just because this was an actor that I liked, on a show that I liked. It upsets me because we (a general “we” if I ever used one) feel qualified to judge someone’s life and mistakes, as if we had never made any ourselves. We can say, “He should have known better. We all know that drugs are bad, and they kill. I would never do something like that.” And maybe that’s true. Maybe you and I wouldn’t pick up a needle, or a pipe, or snort a line of cocaine. Maybe you and I don’t drink alcohol to excess.
But can you honestly say that you’ve never made a stupid decision in your life? Never made a mistake? Never had a close call because of a choice that you made? Because sometimes, a split-second decision can alter your entire life path. I’m not even talking about the decision to try drugs. What about the decision to send “just a quick text” while you’re driving? What about a person who picks up an appetizer at a party, without asking about the ingredients, not knowing it contains an allergen in it that then gives them a fatal reaction? What about the person who dies living their dream of climbing a mountain? Did they “have it coming”, too? We judge parents who lose children in horrible, tragic accidents, because it helps us think that it couldn’t happen to us, but the truth is, every single one of us has those “oops” moments where we did something that could have had tragic consequences, and then, if we’re smart, we thank God, or the Universe, or luck, for keeping us safe.
Most of those split-second decisions or errors don’t result in a lifetime risk of an early death, but some do.
Drug and alcohol addiction is, by all accounts (since I can’t claim to have any personal experience) a lifelong struggle. You can want nothing more to be clean, get clean, and then even years later, struggle daily to keep from having “just one more hit” that sends you right back into the depths of it. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to deal with that, and so I have to feel for those who do. I have my own issues that I know very well have the potential to kill me eventually, if I don’t get them under control; it doesn’t make it any easier to do it. Like Cory Monteith, and so many others, I will likely fight my demons every day for the rest of my life. I can only pray that if – God forbid – I pass away far too young, that people will have more compassion than to say, “She had it coming.”