Clawing to escape the belly of the beast here in Hollywood. To commiserate, email my name assistantatlas at yahoo.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Melba In Memoriam: 5.23

A friend passed away today. First we heard cocaine and pills. Now it's being said it's heroin. Whatever it was, it was drugs and that's that. She's gone.

I'm calling her "Melba", and only maybe a dozen people in the whole world will get that reference, but I get it, and she would've liked it, and that's all that really matters.

We grew up together. We hung out in high school a lot. She was younger than me, but by just a few months. In middle school, we briefly considered marriage, but then she found out I wasn't Jewish and wasn't likely to be a doctor. And so there was a brief falling-out, but we soon became amicable parts of the same group of friends.

It could not have been her time to die. How can 25 be the end of life?

One time, we were in this play together, and we had to act like an old married couple, and I had to wear a paper hat because we supposedly owned a diner together. She was a waitress and I was a cook and we were living happily ever after. And now, Melba is gone.

I will never see her again. Maybe there's still some shock left over, and I was essentially struck dumb for several hours when the Roomie told me. But anger is also setting in.

You see, all I can think is that I never told Melba this: her sarcastic wit was one of the reasons I knew Kansans could be cool. And also, she had an amazing rack. It's true, Melba. You had the whole hourglass and then some and . . . it's just too awful that you're . . .

So maybe I should've known. She was depressed a lot. Of course, she'd always been depressed a lot. And she'd done drugs, like all of us had done drugs, but last time I saw her, maybe nine months ago, it seemed like she was doing less than I. And certainly not heroin. And the dark personality, by 25, that just seemed like her.

Another friend of ours who didn't get along with Melba referred to her, sarcastically, as "Happy". Maybe that was where we failed her. By not doing more sooner. We saw it. We all did. But I've thought a lot about it, and I don't think so.

I think she knew I was always there for her if she needed me. She was a proud girl, that Melba, not one to ask for help. Even if she needed it. And especially if she wanted it. But I think she knew I would've been there, if she'd just have asked. But I don't think Melba's death falls on my shoulders alone.

I rage against a lot of things that are abstract concepts: the Hollywood system and entertainment industry, the rampant materialism of Los Angeles, Republicans, etc. And even stupid things sometimes. I'll cop to that.

But there's something wrong here.

I'm tired of this country treating chemical dependency like it's a crime. It's a disease. And it won't get better until we treat it-- all of it, from pot to Prozac-- as a public health problem. Personally, I think we need to legalize pot and take a look at more regulation for Prozac. You're free to disagree.

What I know is this: we need to set up more drug treatment centers and do what works-- even if that means putting aside moral quivers and qualms, and implementing needle exchange programs that have been shown to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS (among other STDs).

We need to stop letting some people's morality (President Cheney's) to get in the way of saving lives. Because no morality should trump saving people's lives- whether it's stem cell research or drug policy. There's a war being fought, sometimes quietly, sometimes explosively, over all this.

And we're all losing.

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7 Comments:

Blogger jengod said...

Sorry to hear about Melba. Just lost a friend from high school, at 28, to breast cancer. I hadn't seen her in a long time, but there's still the horrible shock. Be well.

12:07 PM

 
Blogger Scribe LA said...

Atlas,
So sorry to hear about your loss. Apparently it's ours, too, as I would have loved to have met the woman you proclaim having a great wit.
Despite the awful news, remember that we are never promised tomorrow, so live for today. Yes, I did get that off a bumper sticker. jk.
Best,
Scribe

1:31 PM

 
Blogger writergurl said...

My condolences.

I'm sure your friend knew that you loved her. Sometimes, the most difficult thing to do is to ask for help.

I, too, lost a friend at far too young an age.

4:12 PM

 
Blogger Nyssa23 said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. *hugs*

I can understand some of what you must feel. I also lost a friend two years ago (he was shot outside a club in L.A.--please be very, very careful when you go out.)

And, for what it's worth, I think you're right on regarding the stupid and disastrous "war on drugs."

I'm sorry to not have had the chance to know Melba, but I will think of her in temple when we say the Kaddish.

May the Source of peace bring peace to those who mourn.

10:28 PM

 
Blogger queenofattolia said...

To add to what Nyssa23 wrote (also from the Hebrew prayer book):

Her memory is a blessing.

Never forget that.

1:51 AM

 
Anonymous lynnzgal said...

Toast, I get it and I'm sorry Atlas. I have a nephew that is going to jail because first his mother and then the state of CO aren't interested in finding the right meds to treat his disorder. He ends up self medicating and then in trouble with the law. Our priorities are seriously f-ed up! Its too sad!

7:20 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And yet, you joke about all the death in Africa.

10:11 PM

 

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