I was 13 years old when I was called to the principal’s office and ushered into a small room. My stepfather was waiting. He hugged me, sat me down, and said to me, “Cyrus, your mother… She’s dead.”
She was found in her bedroom with the anti-anxiety medication Xanax, and a bottle of wine. As the coroner pronounced my mother’s death, he turned to my stepfather and said, “We are seeing this happen all the time.”
Six years later, I was in my apartment cooking dinner while two classmates from San Diego State University crushed Xanax on the kitchen table behind me. Over the crunching sounds, I heard one of them say, “It’s impossible to overdose on this, and if you do you’re an idiot.”
That same semester, another classmate overdosed on prescription painkillers and died.
My mom, Suki Palermo was 47 when she died. I still struggle with her loss, but it hurts worse to see my friends making the same mistakes.