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Writing used to be where I found solace. Where the whirling ideas came to soft landings so I could organize them into useful plans. I wrote poems and stories as a child. I wrote when I was a very young adult trying to find my footing. I wrote when I was pregnant with my girls; spilled out all the love and hopes I had for them in this world. I wrote as an outlet when I was confused. My writing never spared me, or those I loved, from impending tragedies; but it did give me clarity and some strange peace.

How do I write about you, Ellison? How do I begin when I am forced to accept your end?

Sweet Ellison. You were this wild force tempered with the kindest love I could have never imagined. You were blindingly bright. You were always positivity and innocent glee. I didn’t want you to lose your dad when he got sick, but what hurt the most was watching your light dim during that painful time.

Humans have such a need to put things in their place. And not just house them appropriately, but place them in aesthetically pleasing repositories as well. I cannot place my memories of you in a box and admire them all neatly packed. I review your childhood looking for instances where I let you down so I can know how we ended up here. I carry the blame. It’s heavy but I will oddly fight to keep it. It’s my last “momma” job. It hurts but I cannot let it go. There is not an urn to bury it in; not a cell I can banish it to. It’s my anchor and I sink with it daily. It needs its own internment. Not to let it go, but to let it rest – instead of its radical plunge deeper and deeper into nothing… Rest in peace and without blame, Ellison. I will carry the blame for the both of us.

(This was written in a private, weak moment that other parents might feel when they sit quietly with their thoughts. Who is to blame? It is fentanyl, it’s the platforms that allow promotion of counterfeit pills, it’s the dealer who peddles the poison and it is the demons that drive good people to self-medicate. That is our motivation for advocacy and without choice we war. But, because of our role as a parent – when no one is looking… we blame ourselves.)

Kari Clay  – Ellison’s Mom

Ellison Margaret Bryde – Forever 17
Little Rock, AR