. . . Another Man Done Gone . . .

I caught you knockin’ at my cellar door,

I love you, baby, can I have some more,

Oh, the damage done.

I hit the city and I lost my band,

I watched the needle take another man,

Gone, gone, the damage done.

I sing the song  because I love the man,

I know that some of you don’t understand,

milk blood to keep from running out.

I’ve seen The Needle And The Damage Done,

A little part of it in every one,

But every junkie’s like a setting sun.

–Neil Young

I first met him when he was eleven years old.  That was October, 2001.  I don’t remember that meeting specifically, but, over the years, I met with him and his family enough to form a lasting relationship with him.  He was a smart boy who struggled with focus and concentration and self-confidence.  It was difficult to find that sweet spot with the medicine.  You know, the spot where the benefits out-weigh the liabilities.  Because of that there were many shifts in medicine over the years and periods where he was on no medicine at all.  But he would still come in with his mother and father and his brother, who were also under my care.  Even tho my time with them was always brief, I have always had a sense of great connectedness with this family.  Their visits always ran long as we discussed not only the standard medication issues, but how the family was doing and how each felt.  We would discuss matters of spirituality and traded a movie and a book.  His parents were kind, gentle and thoughtful people.  He came by his nature honestly.  As he grew, he reminded me of one of my good friends I grew up with.  Thin face with long hair and a quiet deliberateness to how he spoke.  He was smart, but a bit stymied by his ongoing attention and impulsivity issues that made “success” elusive for him.  But at his core, he was a kind and gentle young man.  In that way, he reminded me of my own son.

As too often happens, his difficulty fitting in to the standard mould led to his entry into a counter-culture peer group.  He slipped into smoking pot and who-knows-what-else over the years, finally ending up addicted to heroin.  He would go through times of sobriety and relapse, feeling overwhelmed by the lure of effects that the drug offered.  He had difficult separating himself from those who he did drugs with.  He was always trying to help someone and save someone . . . but this often ended up dragging him down again.

And his parents . . . his poor parents.  Struggling as they were with health issues and difficult financial times caused by the recent recession kept trying to do the right thing.  Do you throw him out?????  Do you keep him in?????? What is the right thing to do?????

There was no right thing to do.

He knew he was loved.  He knew who cared for him.  He knew he was in trouble.  He knew, intellectually, all that had been taught to him over the years by his mom and his dad and by all the adults in his life.  No one did anything wrong over the years we tried to help him.  But, in the end, we couldn’t save him from himself.  Sullivan was found dead of a drug overdose a couple of weeks ago.  Perhaps, his mom related, the “one more high” before really going sober.  He seemed so close to kicking this habit.  But, now . . . he’s gone.

Sometimes when I lose a patient, I feel angry.  Today, I just feel sad.  Very sad.  The world . . . my world . . . was a better place for having known him.  The world will never know what was lost here.  His kindness and gentleness and intellect is something that the world needs more of.  Who knows what he could have done to help us all.  My heart goes out to his mother, his father, his brother and all of the extended family.  Keep them all in your thoughts and in your prayers for as long as you can remember to.  It was from them that this kind and gentle man came into the world.  It was under their care that he developed into the wonderful man that he was.  They did all that they could to get him back when he veered down this difficult path.  They are good people.  They were good parents.  Sometimes tho, despite our best efforts, our children choose a difficult road.  I hope to continue to be part of their lives.  The memory of their son will always be part of mine.

Another man done gone . . .

Another man done gone . . .

Another man done gone . . .

Dan Hartman, MD

2 comments to . . . Another Man Done Gone . . .

  • J

    Dr. Hartman,
    The words of Neil Young have been playing in my mind since we lost Sullivan. You have respectfully captured him and us and to read such a public proclamation of love and honor for us is overwhelming. My tears flow every day morning through evening – I miss my son. Thank you for your sweet and accurate analysis – I hope to always have you as friend; for this you have declared in this most loving tribute. –JB

  • j

    As I struggle with the loss of my son, I know that I must remain clear and pray for the only connection that really matters and that is to increase my knowledge and faith in the spriritual realm. My grief weighs me down but I get glimpses, tiny shards of energy, and I know this is the only way I can survive.