I received a book in the mail about a month ago. I slipped it into my briefcase to read while in between calls in the rapid response vehicle in Hartford. It sat there in its unopened package for weeks as I was too busy between calls and writing PCRs to take it out. Yesterday, Saturday, my recovery day, I was cleaning out my briefcase when I rediscovered it. I brought it down to the bedroom with me to read some before my Saturday afternoon nap where I try to catch up on a week’s worth of toil. It was not a long book and I read it straight through, unable to put it down despite the incredible sadness it made me feel.
Cody’s Story: A Son’s Death, A Father’s Battle Against Opioids by Richard K. Mogensen tells the story of a man’s son, growing up in a loving family, becoming addicted to opioids, and never being able to shake the addiction until it killed him at the age of 32 after years of struggle. Cody’s introduction to opioids began after a doctor prescribed him oxycodone for his pain after being nearly beaten to death while delivering pizzas. Mogensen chronicles Cody’s life in simple truthful language and then shares some of what he has learned about opioids.
The book is an act of life that says my son was real, he was loved, he lived life, he enjoyed photography, the outdoors and his golden retriever, and he battled against addiction that was too much for him. He mattered to his father, his family, and his friends.
As I was reading the book, I saw the faces of so many others I have come to know, some who are dead, others who are still walking this earth. I thought of all the sons and daughters who have been lost to opioid addiction, and how each of their lives could be chronicled in a similar book.
I imagined a library and fathers and mothers and siblings and friends walking up the steps of the library, and into the stacks to place a volume detailing the lives of their lost one. The library is open seven days a week and all hours. It never closes. You can stand outside and watch the families enter. Every six minutes a new volume is placed on the shelves next to the others. Winter, spring, fall, summer, rain, sunshine, snow, winds. The procession is endless. Over 100,000 a books in 2021 alone.
Scholars, policy makers, citizens, all can come and wander through the growing stacks and take down any volume or any floor, in any wing, and feel the sadness and the love and the pain of an individual life lost.
The numbers are unrelenting. This book is about just one. One alone should matter to the world. We need to do more in battling this epidemic.
Cody’s Story tells of how brain dead from anoxia, his body is brought down to the OR where surgeons carefully remove his organs and send them off in coolers to waiting helicopters that fly across the night to distant hospitals where others in need await the precious gift of life Cody’s organs provide.
The book ends with Cody’s father seeing a young man who has been sleeping in a car who reminds him of his son’s struggle. Without asking he gives the man $20 in hopes it may help him find his way home.
Cody’s Story can be purchased at this link. Profits from this book will go to the Charlotte Rescue Mission – Men’s Rebound Program.