Not how I ex­pected, or wanted, to start my new year

Rappahannock News - - COMMENT - BY JEFF SAY Jeff Say is the ed­i­tor of the Culpeper Times

As soon as I pulled in, I knew some­thing was off. We had just ar­rived back in Culpeper a cou­ple of hours ear­lier and I had stopped by a lo­cal gro­cery store to pick up the or­der I had placed the night be­fore.

I pulled into the pickup area and im­me­di­ately no­ticed a car sit­ting be­side me, with no one in the driver’s seat.

I found it odd, and frankly it sent warning sig­nals into my spine, but I quickly turned my at­ten­tion to the gen­tle­man bring­ing out my gro­ceries. Still, some­thing about that car was both­er­ing me.

Soon, I no­ticed a group of store man­agers com­ing out and sur­round­ing the car. Again, I found it odd.

Af­ter help­ing load my gro­ceries, I hopped back in my car and took a closer look. Sure enough the driver’s seat was empty, but as I looked closer, I could make out a body in the pas­sen­ger seat.

“That per­son’s dead,”

I said out loud to my­self, shocked that I hadn’t no­ticed it sooner. I quickly rolled down my win­dow as I had al­ready started back­ing out, and asked if some­one needed me to call 911.

They al­ready had, said the one man­ager, look­ing grimly down at the car.

What struck me is that no one helped, we all just looked.

I knew what had hap­pened, this wasn’t an un­com­mon oc­cur­rence in the town. This was the heroin epi­demic front and cen­ter, wel­com­ing me into the new year.

It’s an odd feel­ing, know­ing there’s noth­ing you can do. If you touch the per­son, who knows if you can prick your­self on what­ever para­pher­na­lia left be­hind (and I didn’t look closely enough to see how much or if any were still there). It’s an un­set­tling fact to be go­ing to the gro­cery store and ran­domly run into a dead body.

To be clear, and I’ve asked for up­dates but have re­ceived none, if the per­son in the car is de­ceased or not. I’ve scoured the obits, and haven’t seen any­one match­ing the de­scrip­tion of the per­son I saw. As with most over­dose cases, I’ll as­sume they were re­vived by Nar­can.

If they were, I hope they get help. If they or their fam­ily read this, know I’ve been pray­ing for you.

I thought about keeping silent about my grisly dis­cov­ery. I told a few of my friends and the ones in the med­i­cal field and law en­force­ment weren’t shocked. It’s a common oc­cur­rence. How­ever, others were mor­ti­fied that some­thing like this hap­pened in their town. They had no clue of the epi­demic or how bad it was. I feel like I’ve ded­i­cated a lot of ink to the epi­demic and the ef­forts that preven­tion spe­cial­ists and law en­force­ment have put forth against it. Yet, there are still peo­ple who aren’t aware of the con­se­quences or the trav­es­ties left be­hind.

I know sev­eral fam­i­lies who have lost loved ones in the past year from over­doses. I’ve sat with griev­ing mothers, I’ve seen kids left with­out fa­thers and mothers. It breaks my heart.

So, I de­cided not to be silent about what I saw on New Year’s Day. It helps to talk about it, to let others know this is hap­pen­ing.

If you know some­one who needs help, take them to get it. Reach out, there are others who have been im­pacted.

Even if it’s just as simple as some­one go­ing to get their gro­ceries.

“That per­son’s dead,” I said out loud to my­self, shocked that I hadn’t no­ticed it sooner.

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