On August 22, 2004, a small, but important piece of the world was dedicated in memory of Jason Surks. A stranger to most of you. An acquaintance to some. A friend to others. A precious part of life to his family. While it may seem logical to have a Resource Center named in memory of someone who's life was lost to the abuse of drugs, to his family he was, and is, just our little boy. We are honored that his name will bring added value to this facility.
Jason was a person that people gravitated towards. He was good looking and smart and humorous. He had a Buddy List a mile long and a cell phone bill that required a part-time job. He adored his long time girlfriend and she adored him. I suspect that there were a number of girls that envied her. I told him often that he had a social life that I only dreamed of when I was his age. Jason grew up in a happy and enriching environment. He had almost all the "necessities" of a twenty first century teenager, from boomboxes to bling.
So what went wrong? How did someone on the cusp of manhood, who grew up in the cushion of suburbia, with a strong religious and moral compass, end up having a Resource Center named in his memory? Jason had an uncanny ability to land, like a cat, on his feet. Whether it was a huge project due at school the next morning or a looming auto insurance bill, Jason seemed to find the tiny bit of daylight to run toward and emerge unscathed. He somehow managed to overcome what appeared to be the insurmountable. Because of this, we often discussed that while his schoolwork was never stellar, I felt he would find his way in the world and succeed in life. He just had something within him that made life click along seamlessly for him. This gave him a sense of invincibility. That, coupled with a lack of appreciation of risk, gave Jason what he felt was a Teflon veneer.
Jason really did not have a proper gauge with which to measure risk. He thought nothing of walking through the streets of Newark late at night or riding a bus through a dangerous neighborhood. Jason spent a lot of time on the Internet researching the drugs he considered abusing. That, along with his having dispensed these drugs in the pharmacy in which he worked, gave Jason all the assurance he needed that his dalliances with prescription drugs were totally without risk. Hopefully, somewhere in this Resource Center that carries his name, others will find the real facts and the real risks associated with these drugs.
Hopefully, there is a way to awaken an understanding of those risks in teenagers. Hopefully, no other family will have to find their child memorialized in this way.
©2004 Mark Surks