Trying to fulfill a promise to a grieving father

A lot of calls come into the newsroom in a day.
Some of the calls are from people who just want to talk.
Others are from people who need a lawyer, doctor, MP or MPP or an advocate.
From time to time, grieving people will call looking for a way to honour a loved one or who are hoping to find a way to ensure that person didn’t die in vain.
Such was the case a couple of weeks ago when a man from St. Thomas called with a message.
His daughter had died of an overdose and there was an investigation underway.
It was his only child and you could hear the pain in his voice. She had four children.
He wanted to warn other parents about what could happen to their kids. He also wanted to help his ex-wife, now looking after her four grandchildren.
This man said his daughter was in a drug rehabilitation centre and her boyfriend had taken her out. She was trying to get clean, he said.
I confirmed with police that yes, this woman had died and there was an investigation.
The man had recorded a video message in the hopes of warning other people about what could happen to their children too.
It’s always busy in the newsroom and I didn’t think we would do anything with this video. After all, police, health officials, politicians have all been speaking about this issue lately as the addiction scourge in society continues to claim lives. We have talked to addicts, to their families.
So I told him I would get back to him. He asked me if I would promise. He sounded so desperate to get his message out, so much in need of someone who would listen and care and help.
So I promised.
I phoned him back in a couple of days and I was shocked at what his roommate told me.
The roommate had found him on the floor when he returned home.
He said the man had some health problems and that he was unconscious but alive. He phoned 911 but when paramedics arrived, he was lifeless. He was pronounced dead.
I felt so sad that his family now has two deaths to deal with. He wasn’t able to deliver the message he wanted. He’ll never know that I kept my promise and called back.
All I can do now is try and speak for him. Try to tell people of the pain and suffering caused by drug addiction and the dangers associated with taking drugs.
Let them know that four kids are without a mother and grandfather now.
Ask for more resources to help those struggling with addiction. Write about the importance of supervised injection sites.
Say good-bye to the voice on the other end of the phone.