Mayor faces ‘new nor­mal’ af­ter son’s over­dose death

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

NASHVILLE: A knock on the door woke Nashville Mayor Me­gan Barry and her hus­band Bruce out of a sound sleep about 3 am When the mayor saw po­lice at her door, she knew it must be bad news - maybe an of­fi­cer was shot, and she was needed at the hos­pi­tal to com­fort a griev­ing fam­ily. In­stead, what the of­fi­cer re­vealed just wouldn’t reg­is­ter: Her 22-year-old son Max was dead. “He had to re­peat it sev­eral times, be­cause that was not what my brain could hear,” Barry said, her voice crack­ing, dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Mon­day.

Barry re­turned to work Mon­day for the first time since her son died of an ap­par­ent drug over­dose July 29. It marked the start of a “new nor­mal” for the griev­ing mayor - she won’t ever hear his voice or get his text mes­sages again. But even as she mourns her only child, Barry also knows she can be an im­por­tant voice in drug abuse aware­ness and the opi­oid epi­demic.

Max Barry’s death comes amid na­tion­wide con­cern about a rise in fa­tal drug over­doses. The Na­tional In­sti­tute on Drug Abuse re­ports over­dose deaths from all drugs that the gov­ern­ment tracks rose from roughly 23,000 in 2002 to more than 50,000 in 2015. In Ten­nessee, state health of­fi­cials re­port 1,451 peo­ple died from drug over­doses in 2015 - the high­est an­nual num­ber of over­dose deaths recorded in state his­tory.

The mayor kept her com­po­sure as she went through the day’s du­ties Mon­day. In an el­e­men­tary school class­room she smiled wide and didn’t skimp on hugs as she de­liv­ered back­packs to stu­dents on their first day of classes. She showed en­thu­si­asm as she thanked the com­mu­nity for an out­pour­ing of sup­port for her son dur­ing the news con­fer­ence that fol­lowed. At times, though, she couldn’t hold back tears.

‘In dis­tress’

“Max will con­tinue to in­spire me and Bruce for the rest of our lives,” she said, start­ing to cry. “Our hearts will al­ways be sad and empty be­cause we can never re­place our child. But I know that with my faith and I know that with my fam­ily, and I know that with my friends, we will get through this.” The Bar­rys still don’t know what drug or drugs killed their son, as they await tox­i­col­ogy re­sults. The mayor said Max had com­pleted a month of re­hab last sum­mer. She didn’t spec­ify what sub­stances he went to re­hab for. “Max came home last sum­mer to visit, and it was clear to me the minute that he got off the plane that he was in dis­tress,” the mayor said. “And so we got him into re­hab im­me­di­ately.”

Af­ter­ward, he grad­u­ated from the Univer­sity of Puget Sound - “al­most on time,” she said. For the last few weeks, he poured con­crete for a con­struc­tion com­pany in Den­ver and was look­ing for an apart­ment out there with friends. Even­tu­ally, he wanted to re­turn to Nashville, Barry said. Max Barry died at a pri­vate home in Jef­fer­son County, Colorado, near Den­ver. One of two other peo­ple in the home called 911, say­ing his friend was in­co­her­ent. First re­spon­ders couldn’t re­vive him, Jef­fer­son County Sher­iff’s Of­fice spokes­woman Jenny Ful­ton said. His par­ents found out early the fol­low­ing morn­ing. — AP

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