As I walk through the school hallways, I recognize faces I have come to know well in my 13 years in the Hopkins District. Tanglen Elementary, North Junior High, and HHS have been my second homes.
For HHS students, especially those who attended Glen Lake Elementary and West Junior High, one familiar face is missing from the senior class.
Sadina Miller’s life was taken far too early this summer, on June 17, 2014. I need not say the milestones of life that she will miss, and the magnitude by which her loved ones will miss her.
Although she left HHS in the fall of 2013, Sadie made more than ten years of memories as a Hopkins student.
To be clear, the purpose of this piece is not to evoke the grief that so many of us felt after Sadie’s death this summer, and I hope those closest to Sadie understand that I am not attempting to bring myself closer to Sadie than I was – I never got to know her.
The purpose is the recognition that the Hopkins District was home for Sadie, too.
Eight years ago. We played on the playground at recess, and, occasionally, an unlucky classmate would scrape a knee.
Five years ago. We learned how to knit in FACS, we plunged headfirst into the land of flirting and first kisses.
Summer 2014. One of us overdoses on heroin.
This fact is stark, shocking, and sad. One of us, the students of District 270, is gone. Gone to the drug that has taken 290 lives in Minn. from 1999 through 2013, according to preliminary figures from the Minnesota Department of Health.
As we remember Sadie’s life, it is our duty as her peers to acknowledge that there was not one moment in which she became a bad kid, a “druggie,” someone whose value is less than the rest of our peers. She was one of us, who was addicted to an extremely dangerous drug.
Life is fragile. Throughout the years, I’ve grown desensitized to talk about underage drinking, casual sex, marijuana – because more people are talking about it, and more people are doing it. That never happened with heroin.
Heroin is something foreign, scary. Something that, before Sadie’s death, I entertained only as being for strung-out rock stars and far-gone homeless people. Never did I think about the force with which it could overtake one of my former peers.
We need to recognize the fragility of life, and the fragility of every single choice we make. Sadie’s choices led her to the dark times of substance-abuse that we will all be impacted by at some point.
The disease of addiction was a manipulative, consuming monster in Sadie’s life. Her disease began with marijuana and adderal, 2 drugs that are viewed as innocuous or even helpful on many school campuses. Sadie’s life was not her addiction. The last choices she made cannot be the way that we, the faces she saw every day in the halls, on the first day of Kindergarten, in the hockey rink, remember her.
Sadie will always be one of us.