A dear friend passed this week. Only a short time ago, he was a medical student of unlimited potential and proud accomplishment. He was young, brilliant, strong, beautiful and larger than life. An even shorter time ago, he was alone amongst friends. Desperate. Scared. And perhaps deeply sick despite every outward appearance of physical and mental health.

I saw him two weeks ago. He was lifting weights in a dusty room of the house in which we had both lived at one time. I was in Iowa City only briefly for my former medical school class’ graduation but we managed to catch up some. He said he had plans to visit me in Los Angeles in the spring. A damn lie. We embraced. I was gone. Then he was gone.

I understand that because we live, things get taken from us. But I also believe that we can hold this inevitability off, even briefly. We can hold each other back from the figurative and literal ledge. I am determined now more than ever to build active and sustainable networks of friends, family and benevolent strangers to help us help one another to fight addiction, mental illness and suicidality. Here rage speaks.

The liquor I pour for you, my brother, is a song about life and love triumphing over death, Lauryn Hill’s ‘To Zion’. I can’t lift like you can, but I will spot you when I come to visit you instead.

Drew Park
CEO, Founder, Q-Cigarettes, Inc.