*Baby reading* ”And I’ll catch you now…” *undecipherable content from child* Child: ”Then he ran out the door..” *undecipherable child content* Woman: ”That’s right!” Child: ”The end!” Woman: ”That’s so good!” Woman: ”Well, night-night, okay?” Child: ”Lemme read it to you again.” Woman: ”Okay, start over.” He was really sweet and kind. He just had the sweetest smile that would just light up the room. When I was like a baby, I think he really, really, really loved me until I started getting old enough to like bite him and smack him. He liked to pester me all the time by thumping me or calling me names. He used to call me liver and onions to get on my nerves Then he would have those big brother moments When he would always be there for me and protect me and everything. Baker was very active. Loved to be around his friends. Loved to be playing outside. He was a very good football player. He was very fast. His only problem with that was he, he was prone to get hurt, which he did. That’s how he broke his collar bone, making a great run at Clay-Chalkville and he had to have surgery. He had, you know, Lortab, and I would give it to him. I suppose, though, that was when he experienced how it made him feel. I grew up in a wonderful household. I was the oldest of three sisters. I was oftentimes in trouble. When I six years old, I was diagnosed with ADHD. And it was a very severe case. I was put on a stimulant in order to function. That’s a very young age to learn you ingest a prescription chemical and you’re going to feel a different way. I’ve known Baker since I moved to Vestavia, honestly, in the third grade. Class clowns together if he got in trouble, I got in trouble with him. Me and him were like brothers. He could hang out with you whether you were into sports, or whether you were into video games or really anything. College was just a whole new experience You know you got people at parties smoking, going upstairs, you know, doing cocaine. All kinds of stuff that I had never even seen before. Everybody was just doing it. The first time that I tried painkillers I had heard about them from friends at school and I was like well I’m gonna give that a shot. I found a leftover bottle, I took them, and I remember feeling like I was flying and like this is the feeling I have been searching for my entire life. I suddenly felt like *sigh of relief* everything is okay. All of a sudden I felt like I fit in even though I’m sitting by myself, you know, I’m 15 years old. I’m watching T.V. All the lights are out. You could tell Baker was very, um, conflicted at points. He wanted to please his parents, but at the same time wanted to have a good time at school. Plenty of times he cried about it just trying to figure out the balance between the two without having to cut off the party scene cause we did love to party. I went to college. I had two majors. I went to school in Paris for a year. Now I was in this great group of people and yet here I have this other side of me that is looking through your medicine cabinets everytime you turn your back cause I’ve gotta get what I need to feel better. He had a fall from being drunk at a party one time and he was having back pains and so I knew he had gotten hard on the painkillers to you know, make himself feel better but at one point you know, those Lortabs and those Roxies and oxies, all that stops working. And you ended up taking 6 of them and wasted you know $200 and you know, you got this little bag of heroin and it’s $20 and it’s a lot stronger. Baker progressed over towards the heroin and it progressed quickly. Within the first week of trying the needle, I had overdosed two times accidentally. The ER doctor said to my parents, ”If you’re praying kind of people, you better hit your knees. Because she 50/50 might not make it.” I was so ashamed and scared out of my mind And so I went to rehab, um, and this is multiple, multiple rehabs You know, I’d be able to fit together long increments of sobriety and then fall off the wagon. It was like, how could this have happened again? I’m doing all the prescribed things that I’m suppose to be doing and yet I’m still needing that relief. like what’s wrong? What is wrong with me? Our brains were not designed to handle the onslaught of opiates. When you’re in withdrawal or you haven’t had enough all these neurons are firing off saying like, ”Give me my stuff. Give me my stuff!” It’d be like if I took a plastic bag right now and put it over your head. Like eventually, you would start fighting me to get that bag off your head. Cause you’d start suffocating, right? That is what addiction is like for people who are in craving mode. You become like an animal. You’re so single mindedly like, ”What do I have to do to feel better?” Baker actually did it a lot and was very defensive with me He wasn’t talking to me. He had lost a lot of weight. Um, sleeping all day. Chills if he didn’t have it. He was just a terrible person as soon as he got it he was relaxed. Um, but at the same time he was never Baker. Even if he had it or not. He wasn’t him. It was a Monday night, so I went and saw him and I questioned him about, you know, his drug use. And he told me then that he had tried heroin, but that he was getting help and he had been to a counselor there at the university. And he said, ”Look at me! Do I look like I’m on drugs?” I said, ”No, you look great.” I said, ”But I’m coming back in a couple days and I’m going to bring a drug test with me and we’re going to make sure.” And it was that day. I’m calling Baker. His phone’s off. And that’s unlike him, he’s like me, my phone’s never off. I’m calling him from, you know, 8 in the morning ’till 2 o’clock in the afternoon Right when I pulled into the apartment complex I pulled in behind the ambulance. I kept praying, ”Please, don’t turn towards his apartment.” Of course, it did. I knew as soon as I saw him, man. He was blue and his back was arched up and he was stuck like this and I just knew. We called the cops and my girlfriend’s trying to do CPR on him. Blood’s coming out of his mouth, man. It’s just it was terrible. I was just hoping, praying, that he could still be with us. But I knew I lost my best friend. And I’d never see him again. I mean, I miss being a complete family. Whenever my parents suggest doing things Like, trying something new. I honestly don’t want to cause I’d rather not feel like we’re missing someone. It’s just devastating to not have him here. He was just so much fun and and such a joy. If you asked 95% of the parents out there, What’s the worse thing in the world that could happen to you? And it would be to lose a child. And so that’s what we live with. For now the worse thing that could possibly happen, has happened to us. Child and Woman singing: ”You are my sunshine. My only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are grey. You’ll never know, dear. How much I love you. Please, don’t take my sunshine away.” I’m the only one in my family who has this. My sisters, they’re dealing with babies and bottles and I’m just trying to like not stick a needle in my arm everyday. Even though, it’s been years since I have stuck a needle in my arm. It’s still like, it’s two steps away, you know? It’s right behind me. If I had been able to be honest about it and not brushed it under the rug, you know? That would have, that could have changed everything. I should have said something to his parents. I should have done something. I should have done more. Uh, I know he had tried to stop on his own. Um, and I thought he did, but he had lied to me and I didn’t keep up with him and I feel like, you know, If I had done more to help, you know, he’d still be here. Baker got a 35 on his ACT, was going to be an engineer, a doctor He was one of the best people I knew, man. He’d give you the shirt off of his back and I’ve seen him do it. They always assume things about people who have died of a drug overdose that maybe they came from a family who wasn’t supportive or maybe they were just into stuff and they deserved it. But I don’t think people realize that this can happen to anyone. Heroin doesn’t discriminate, you know. Drugs don’t discriminate. They’ll kill you if you’re living in poverty, whether you’re rich, and it doesn’t matter how old you are, how young you are I know you feel like you’re invincible, but It’s not worth it, you know? There’s so much more to live for than the next high. So much more to live for.