Daniel Has Three Dashes

Daniel Has 3 Dashes

His Birth was such a joyous celebration of faith, hope and love.

His Conviction was like nothing I could ever have imagined. Grief and despair pulled our family into the lion’s den.

His Release was another joyous celebration as we watched him march out of the gate. Our hearts were singing free at last!

His Death was a relived pain of disbelief, anger, rage, trauma, and despair.

It has been one year since Daniel left us. I am not sure how I feel or how to really process this. I think of Scarlett O’Hara saying, “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

So, I put off the inevitable. The pain and depth of my grief.

When Daniel went to prison, that very day he was convicted, I felt as if he went straight to hell. The fear I had was overwhelming. The unknown and the internet were full of frightening information about what prison life was like and that paralyzed me.

When he died, he went to heaven. This I know. This is why I can carry on. Heaven is safe. It is peaceful. Daniel is free from all of our earthly demons. He is free to be what God had intended him to be. I also know that Daniel believed that his time was in God’s hands. Therefore, I can say with the utmost certainty, “Job well done, son.”

I trucked along the first few months after his death, nodding those obligatory smiles to those who offered condolences, always trying to make sure they felt okay and rarely worrying about how I felt.

I hid the tears from myself, not allowing them to fall freely. This would protect everyone from seeing my heart ache.

Not today. Not anymore. I miss my son. He didn’t deserve what happened to him. His story is not over and my pain will shine through like a beacon of light.

I have come to realize that Daniel’s death is a result of the failures of all of our public systems. Systems that our country was founded on. Systems that I believed in and pay for.

The National Security System that failed to protect him from fentanyl coming across our borders from China through Mexico – even the DEA acknowledged this in an intelligence report in January, 2020.

The Justice System That Failed to Do Justice

The Education System that failed to offer me any support or guidance as he began his spiral downward.

The Health Care System that failed to recognize his addiction as a chronic, treatable disease in need of long term monitored care.

The Justice System that failed to do justice. That failed to understand that a 15-year prison sentence would only exasperate his already fragile mind. That failed to follow through with court ordered probation conditions that, laughingly, would fix him after doing hard time.

These systems that our country is founded on, that our lawmakers refer to in every speech they give. These systems are failing us miserably and my son is just one of millions who have fallen through the cracks.

Many naysayers would look at me and say that I should have taken charge. I should have made sure Daniel was getting treatment, following the rules, and staying on course. But if it were that simple then we wouldn’t need police, we could simply police our own families into doing better.

NA and AA will tell us to let them hit bottom, kick them out, cut them off. But if this worked, we wouldn’t have addiction or millions of dead Americans. We would have sober, healthy people.
This disease of substance use disorder is the most dangerous threat to the United States of America. It is the undermining of a democracy riddled with ridiculous narratives about Public Safety, Public Health and Public Education.

It is past time for our American families to step up to the mic and demand action. We need to become the voter bloc that we are. Organized to a fault. Voting in every single election from the dog catcher up. Taking every opportunity to reply to political and media rhetoric that keeps us an angry, fearful America.

We need to stop posting ridiculous hashtags on social media and start showing up, standing up and speaking up for the majority of Americans being ignored by outdated status quo. I, for one, will be attending every political event I can and I will ask some serious questions.

You in?

Kate Boccia is the founder, President and CEO of the National Incarceration Association