She was a pretty girl in her early forties, a homemaker, landscaper, and a former police officer who enjoyed drawing and the outdoors. That’s what the obituary said. Buffy was also a heroin addict.
I got to know Buffy the several months she was in jail. She was very likable and easy to talk too. She was looking forward to getting out of jail and on with her life, but as the time for release got nearer, she was concerned.
“I don’t have any place I can go,” she said. “I have nowhere to stay, and no one to help me.”
“No one,” I asked, “not a family member, a friend, or neighbor?” “No”, she replied, “no one.”
We talked about an available half-way house or transitional housing unit, where she could stay until she got her bearings. The problem is, in our county, there are next to none available. One of our Common Pleas Court Judges, Chris Collier, said that residential housing for women is the single most important need for the county. “Women with addictions have no chance if we send them back to a home where a man is abusing drugs and alcohol everyday,” said Collier in a recent article. She assured me she would look into it, but I don’t know that she did.
“I’ll keep you in my prayers,” I whispered as she gave me a hug at the end of our time together. That was the last time I saw her.
A week later, we were at a meeting of our jail ministry group when one of the members said to the group, “Did you hear about Buffy? She was released on Thursday and died of a heroin overdose on Sunday!”
Many thoughts raced through my mind. It seemed that, in reality, the jail had been keeping her alive, and with no one to help her on the outside, she simply returned to what she knew, heroin, and in three days, it killed her.
Did the system do enough for Buffy? Did the courts? Did we as concerned citizens? Or worse yet, did I do enough? These questions will never be answered, but what I do know for sure, is she deserved help. How many other Buffy’s are out there? Heroin is a powerful drug, and the odds of beating it are very slim, some say 3%. Tonight, say a prayer for Buffy and all the other Buffy’s out there, that have been hooked by this deadly drug, that someday there might be easily available treatment and safe, transitional, residential facilities. If we only cared enough, it could happen.
* Note: Since this articles was written, the county is moving forward with Cathy’s House and will brake ground soon. From what I have heard, five to seven beds will be available to women at the new facility. It could be opened by next spring. A link to the article can be found here.*