My very dear grandchildren,

It has happened again. Why do I find myself feeling sorry for a murderer who is on the front page of today’s paper, with 3-inch-high letters spelling “Guilty”? (“Prosecutor to seek life in prison for man convicted of murdering officer,” June 19.)  This man killed a county sheriff’s deputy. He didn’t deny that he did it. He couldn’t remember much about it.

Why? He was so high on drugs at the time that the defense used that fact to claim that it was manslaughter, not murder. The defense claimed that he was so out of his mind that he could not have planned to kill the police officer, or even have known what he was doing. The jury did find him guilty of murder.

We all feel terrible for the victim and his family. Why should I feel bad for this young man? He did kill another human being! It is because of what he has done to his life, his future. He is only 30. His age is about the same as that of three of you, my grandsons. I know nothing of where he was before this in living his life. But now he cannot pursue any of his dreams. He can’t date, and find a wife, buy a house, have children, or travel. He can’t go dancing or to weddings or parties, go to the office, or work with wood, siding, or insulation. He cannot buy a car, go to family reunions or have a cottage on the lake, go fishing or own a boat. He cannot have horses, or cows, or a company of his own. The American Dream is not for him.

I know a murderer has to pay for his crime, and I don’t feel bad about that. I feel bad because a young person has messed up his life. It makes me realize how devastated I would be if it was one of you, my grandchildren. I am so proud of all of you, and of how well you are doing. I shouldn’t worry, and I really don’t.

I have to assume that he would not have done it if it were not for the drugs. Probably he was not to blame for being addicted. We all know that happens, way too often. But did he try to get help? If he was to blame for the addiction, in that he used recreationally and never tried to stop or go for help, then he is responsible for wrecking his life. The scourge is so widespread, and leads to such awful outcomes. Way, way too many lives have been ruined or lost. Most people don’t realize the strength of addiction.

It is not just drugs. Too much alcohol can take away your God-given judgment, too. You know that it can cloud your mind and allow you to mess up your life. Problems involving alcohol have caused a great deal of sorrow over the years, because of the too-common abuse of it

Young people take note. And you who are parents, teach your children. Treat drugs like the poisons that they are. Do not try it that first time. The possible horrible consequences make it not worth the risk. If you become addicted innocently, or in any way, get the help you need to kiss the problem goodbye.

No, it won’t be easy. Remember though, “No man is an island.”  There are those who love you. Life is hard enough at its best. But life is a gift that can bring much pleasure. I implore you: please don’t ruin yours.

Much love to all of you,

Mavis J. Longfellow and her husband Lawrence were the original owners of Longfellow’s Greenhouses in Manchester. 

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