Predicting the Past - a Dad's Regret
I have spent countless hours over the past few years trying to predict the past. I know what you’re thinking…how hard can it be to predict something that’s already happened? For me, however, predicting the future is significantly easier. At some point there is some outcome (or conclusion) that proves your prediction either right or wrong…and then you move on.
No…I don’t mean that I try to predict things that have already happened. Rather, I’m talking about predicting what may have happened had I done things differently in life. Since the death of my youngest son, Mark, in May of 2004, I have asked myself so many questions over and over again. What if I had talked to Mark more about the dangers of drugs?…or spent more time learning about what kids were doing at the time? If I hadn’t missed the signs of an addiction problem, would Mark still be alive?….and on and on.
There were a few occasions during Mark’s teen years when we found marijuana in his room. We also knew that he occasionally drank beer. With each situation, I talked with Mark about the stupidity of smoking pot, or drinking beer at his age, and then assigned some form of punishment. Although I worried about these activities, I never saw this as a life threatening behavior. In no way did I believe that Mark had an addiction problem.
In the spring of 2004, Mark seemed to have turned his life around. He was just completing his senior year of high school and was looking forward to the future. Teachers and counselors at his school all spoke highly of him and how he seemed to be maturing. There had been no recent incidences of “pot smoking” or “beer drinking”.
On, Thursday, May 27, 2004, Mark went to school, played basketball against the faculty and staff, and then went to work that evening. It was truly a good day for him. He was looking forward to a camping trip to Shenandoah National Park in a few days, and to his pending graduation the following week.
On Friday, May 28, 2004, Mark never woke up. He died from a mix of prescription drugs. The autopsy revealed high levels of oxycodone, morphene, acetaminophen and amphetamines in his body. I never knew that Mark was using Rx drugs, and I don’t recall ever talking with him about the dangers. How I wish that I could go back in time…
Unfortunately, the problem with trying to predict the past is that there is no conclusion. We can’t go back and change what has already happened and there are no “do-overs”. Mark’s life here on earth is over…his story complete…and there is nothing I can do to change that. My hope is that this will serve as a “second chance” for others, and perhaps help them avoid the need to someday “predict the past” about their own children.
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