My desk space at work is literally in a closet. It's a large closet, but still a closet. Donated clothing for homeless patients, or patients whose clothing is destroyed, is kept here. This morning when I came in, I saw that someone had thrown away a lot of items into my garbage can, without a bag. Annoying, right? As I was putting the stuff in a bag to take to the trash room, I found a journal among the toiletries and empty wallet. It is inscribed "To Brian from Mom" and has entries faithfully covering a two month period last summer.
It is the story of an addict trying to stay clean. He wrote every day, telling of his struggles to stay off drugs, remorse for mistakes he had made, sadness for relationships ruined because of his drug use, and the strong desire to get clean and stay clean. He spoke of friends and family members, new friends at the treatment facility where he was staying, and his faith in God. He had two relapses, and went back to the treatment facility for a few days. His last week's entries are all about a plan he had. The handwriting was jerkier that week, and he wrote on staying focused on his plan. Then, nothing. The entries just stopped.
I am haunted by his brief story, and curious as to what happened to him. How did his journal, and what I would assume are his other possessions - a wallet, toothpaste, deodorant, vitamins, shampoo, a toothbrush - end up in a garbage can in an emergency room closet? Were they found in some donated bags? Did something happen to him?
The back of the journal contains three full pages of names and phone numbers. Treatment houses, government programs, AA hotlines, AA friends, an entry for "mom," other family members, job leads. I could call someone, I suppose, and see if they want the journal returned to them. But I'm afraid of what I might learn. At this point, in my head, he stayed clean, found a job, and is still exorcising his demons. He wrote of wanting simply a normal life: to be drug-free, find a job and a home, and a wife to love. I can imagine he is on is way there. Even though I have no idea who he is, I think it would break my heart if I called and found out he relapsed, is back in prison, or dead. His entries are so full of hope and determination.
I returned the journal to the garbage can at last. Here's hoping Brian, whoever he may be, is still collecting his sobriety chips and living his dreamed-of normal life.