They probably did that gurgly-giggly thing that sets adults swooning.
All of the people each of us encounters each day was, of course, a baby once. I would speculate that with few exceptions, they were cared for, back in those days, by people who saw in them great promise.
That’s what kids bring to us: the implicit assurance that tomorrow looks brighter for us, and them, and those who will follow. They harbor all of the possibility we can pack into our imaginations. Sure, he or she could grow up to be president one day — or even something that comes with more sanity and way less stress. Why not?
So bond court is tough. My colleagues who cover it with regularity have a fresh dose of respect coming from my direction today.
On Wednesday morning, as one detainee after another appeared on the video screen in Judge Elizabeth Sexton’s bond court — seven women and 15 men, most of them still young — I kept thinking about how each of those people was once somebody’s kid. They were cradled in adoring arms, bounced on knees, tickled in the hope of eliciting that magically contagious sound that is baby laughter.
In all, 27 people were charged with heroin trafficking offenses; some were being held elsewhere, and several more have yet to be found.
This is a stunning thing. Heroin now brings death nearly once every week to DuPage County, some weeks more than that. Not that users foresee becoming fatalities. The young often have a sense of immortality about them, after all, a vague belief that somehow bad outcomes are for other people. I have to think most of the 70 people who have succumbed to fatal overdoses in the county since the start of 2012 — asphyxiated by their own fluid in a gruesome process the police call “the brown drown” — never expected that last hit would be the thing that would kill them.
A year and a half ago, as Naperville was awakening to the terrifying pattern of teens and young adults ingesting fatal overdoses, I covered an informational meeting at the 95th Street library, the one that needed a room two or three sizes larger than the generous space reserved for the session. Before then, the presenters — people on the front lines of heroin’s death march — had been accustomed to maybe a dozen people turning up to hear their message.
“That’s somebody’s baby,” Naperville Police Det. Shaun Ferguson said that evening, flashing onto the screen the image of a fresh young corpse. “Somebody watched him walk across the stage at graduation, watched him take his first steps.”
The resurgence of heroin remains stunning to a lot of us of a certain age. We assumed the nightmare had gone the way of the acid trip-ins and antiwar protests that were the signature of the psychedelic era. It hasn’t. It’s a recurring bad dream that makes those days somehow feel harmless through a retrospective lens. To an extent, and considered relatively, they were.
“The heroin today is about 10 times more powerful than it was back in the ’60s and ’70s ... it’s easier to get, it’s cheap,” said DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin.
Given the drug’s double edge of potency and affordability, it’s even more sobering that heroin provides such a lucrative industry. Authorities said those involved in the alleged ring busted this week were pulling in several thousand dollars every day from entirely willing customers in Cook and DuPage counties. There is clearly a demand, and we know a lot of folks are looking for a way to make a few quick bucks.
The nightmare isn’t nearly over.
And of course, no one who was in bond court this week has yet been convicted on the charges that brought them there. I want to hope they couldn’t possibly have all been involved in this horrific and thriving trade, though the investigation’s many reported details suggest at least some of them will be found to have done what the accusations say. And that is tragic and sad — especially considering they most certainly weren’t the only ones peddling death around here.
Surely someone, once upon a time long ago, hoped for better for them.