Have you ever been to a grocery store or gas station and left there feeling like you just had a moment or a chance encounter with someone you know will forever impact your life? Well that's exactly how I feel as I reflect on how the past month impacted me.
I experienced moments that brought me into strangers' lives, to touch them (and possibly change their direction) in a way that also helped me reap so many benefits as well. There were moments in front of hundreds of wide-eyed high school students who were shocked by the words coming out of my mouth. I shared a moment at the front of a room full of tearful parents who showed up to hear my story and learn something from me.
I had a moment in Iowa, when a teenage boy bravely raised his hand in an auditorium full of other students and asked me, “Can you die from just trying it one time?”
That one sent a shiver down my spine.
I feel called to share our story with anyone who will listen and every time I do, it’s an awesome and fulfilling feeling. There are so many people who, like my family, are just trying to figure it all out... the grief, how to heal, how to exist after losing a loved one. There’s something to be said for that bigger plan for our lives and the people we meet along the way.
After spending time with students and parents the past couple weeks in Florida, Connecticut, Iowa, New York and North Dakota, I am more sure of my purpose than ever before. I’m more aware of myself and so energized about the work our foundation is doing.
As I told my story in front of a large crowd in a teeny tiny town called Dickinson, North Dakota, I found myself continuing to make eye contact with a woman in the room. She had such a familiar face. I looked at her several times throughout my talk, thinking I must have seen her in the airport or at a dinner a local group organized in memory of Nick and Jack. Then at the end of the event, she approached me and introduced herself. It was one of Jack’s best friends from middle school. Her family had moved away to Indianapolis and then to Dickinson but she’d followed our story. When she and her husband saw the Facebook event promoting my talk, they decided to come. How cool is that? I believe there’s a reason they were put in that audience.
Then there was the kid from a prep school in Connecticut who approached me after my talk, saying he’d lost a friend about a year ago and wondered who he should talk to about his grief. He’s still having a hard time coping and that young man came to me for help. Me! Wow.
As I stood in front of a room of very affluent parents in West Palm Beach, I didn’t feel judged for the choice Nick and Jack made the night they mixed alcohol with prescription drugs. Instead, I felt supported and loved. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
I felt a connection with them, and that’s what we want. We want parents to leave feeling empowered to have tough conversations with their kids. Most importantly, we want them to go home and clean out their medicine cabinets so our story doesn’t become their story.
It is so incredible to me to think that, in the past month alone, 29,000 people (parents, students, grandparents, lawmakers, community members, etc.) heard our message. That's insane! It also shows me we all have an opportunity to touch lives every day, just by starting conversations. Human interaction is such a powerful thing.
Through sharing my story, I’ve realized there’s so much good out there. We’re all just ordinary people looking for connections and searching for ways to support and lift each other up. As you navigate through the rest of your day and your week, I’m asking you to do two things.
First, CLEAN OUT YOUR MEDICINE CABINETS. Safely get rid of old, unused prescription drugs. It’s easy and the life you save could belong to someone you love.
Second, think about who you’re lifting up and helping to be better. Be kind. There’s enough bad out there in the world... I’m challenging you to be the good. Even if it's just for one person. You may never know the difference you're making.
Becky Savage’s two teenage sons – Nick and Jack – accidentally overdosed on a deadly cocktail of alcohol and prescription drugs on the same night in June 2015. Becky and her husband Mike turned their unimaginable grief into a powerful message: educating students, parents, lawmakers and anyone else who will listen about the dangers of prescription drugs. The couple created 525 Foundation (the boys’ hockey numbers were 5 and 25) with a goal of preventing another family from experiencing the pain the Savage family still struggles with every day. To date, Becky has bravely shared her story with more than 60,000 high school students from Indiana to Texas to Oregon and presented at conferences across the country. She’s spoken to members of a United States Senate opioid crisis committee, serves as an ambassador for the Walgreens #ItEndsWithUs campaign and participated in countless interviews for podcasts and news media.