Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Next Door Neighbor Just Died

Just got a knock at the door and it was my neighbor's sister telling me that her brother Stan just passed away.

I wrote about this neighbor a few months back and now wonder if I should've used the word "junkie" to describe him. But that's honestly what he was -- a real nice guy with a huge list of problems, including long-term heroin addiction. Since that post, I got to know him and ended up genuinely liking the man, and I'm not just saying that because he is now deceased.

Stan and I are both porch-sitters and when I'd go out with my coffee in the morning, he'd sometimes be hanging out smoking menthols and drinking Steel Reserve from a brown paper bag (our porches are connected). We'd chat about all kinds of things.

Stan had also spent a good chunk of his life in prison for killing a man, although he never told me that directly (the neighbors told me he killed a rival dealer). He found religion in prison and seemed to know quite a lot about the Koran, even though he wasn't practicing.

He managed to maintain a little income through SSI payments and small time drug dealing out of his house. Most of his customers were thuggish-looking, but always nice to me.

Many of our conversations revolved around the election in November. When Obama finally won, Stan and I gave each other celebratory high fives across our porches and shared the same smiles. I asked him if he ever thought a black man would be elected president, and he hesitated, said no, and I could detect a catch in his voice and he started to get choked up. I then urged him to make sure he explained the historic election to his 92-year-old mother who has alzhiemer's. Not sure if he ever did.

Stan's veins were completely shot from years of abuse. All his arms, legs and joints were filled with painful fluid and the last I saw him, he could barely walk, even with a cane.

I never thought I'd be buddies someone who'd killed a human, spent time in prison, has AIDS, deals drugs, and is addicted to heroin, but I'm serious when I say this: I will miss those porch conversations and I sincerely believe that Stan was a good person. God bless him and his family.
I hear ya Lonnie. I would probably have mixed emotions in regard to a death like that...timely or untimely. That's just me.

Ive recently dealt with addiction in my life....more than one friend that has been battling demons and going in and out of rehab. I understand the plight of an addict now....but I still don't have any sympathy for them. Call me cold, but you make your bed....I don't see it as a disease per se', more like a disease of weakness and inability to cope with reality. Rubbish.

In one hand you feel bad for the guy...but in the other hand I see him as a piece of shit. A murderer, a drug user, a disease carrier, and a drug dealer. So many lives have probably put astray by this one man...intentional or not. His death might be the best thing that has ever happened to him.....

Piece of shit or victim of circumstance.....hopefully he was good to his mother. If so, then it is a tragedy that he is gone
We're all in this together. We are all flawed as humans, some of us more than others.

Addiction is a terrible problem and whether you see it as a disease or not, nobody WANTS to be an addict. Stanley fought his addiction his whole life, and he lost. But that's not the most important thing to remember about him. The important things are that he cared for his mother, was a kind neighbor, volunteered at the Whitman-Walker Clinic (when he was clean) and maybe most important is that the whole neighborhood mourns him. Last night a cop car pulled up, and it was a cop nobody recognized, and we all thought he was there to hassle us for drinking on the front porch, but it turns out he was there to pay his condolences.

I'm not trying to be preachy, Anonymous, but it will be a lonely life if you don't stop judging people so harshly. Most people fuck up at some point in their life, and those of us who are fortunate enough (and maybe strong enough) to overcome our fuckups should have some sympathy for those who can't.

A few years ago I lost a very close friend to addiction, and I am so, so glad I never stopped being his friend even though he gave me many reasons to. Now when I remember him, I remember the funny, smart, angry friend who I would argue with about politics and share music and make fun of the jocks in high school, and my life would be poorer if I didn't have those memories.

"Come to me, all of you who are weary and loaded down with burdens, and I will give you rest. Matt 11:28 ISV

Hopefully LB, your neighbor is now at rest.

Tex anon
Life can be a brute. Glad you are out there mulling over this complicated world and are a friend to someone who probably didn't have too many. I'm sorry for your loss.
I find it remarkable that many so-called misfits are sometimes the very people who are more in touch with reality than all the rest of us. I used to visit with a guy who walked up-and-down in front of a big church, all the while throwing karate chops with his hands and feet. When I asked, "what the hell are you doing Charlie?" He replied, "I'm beating the old Devil back from all those good people inside who don't know how to deal with him." I feel sorry for members of our society who live in their little self-protecting bubbles and never get to experience what it is like to know someone who struggles with demons on a daily basis.
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