DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter from "Concerned Counselor in Virginia Beach," who wrote about the problem he was having with teen-aged girls who saw no harm in "huffing" (sniffing glue from a spray can) to get high, I had to write. He asked you for names of celebrities who have died from drug overdoses, which you provided for him in abundance because, sadly, some celebrities, like some teen-agers, think nothing will ever happen to them.
Let me tell you a story about a REGULAR person who happened to be my 16-year-old brother. Twenty-nine years ago (yes, I still keep count) my brother, unbeknownst to me, was experimenting with ways to get high. He tried huffing. I was in college at the time. On March 16, four days before my 20th birthday, I got a phone call at 3 a.m. telling me that my only brother had died. I was devastated. It was the worst time in my life. I still think about it every March 16.
I grew up real quick that week. Not only did I help my dad arrange the funeral because Mom was totally unable, but a few weeks later, I came home for spring break. I opened the door of his bedroom where he had died to find that it had not been cleaned since his death. It was not a pretty sight. I called my dearest friend, who lived five hours away at the time, and told her. She was there the next morning. We dealt with cleaning up the blood he had coughed up while his lungs were hemorrhaging and no one could do anything to help. To this day, she is my dearest friend, even though we have not lived in the same city for 31 years.
I deeply regret that my brother never got to grow up, live his life, get married and have children of his own to love. I have always regretted that my children never had the chance to meet and know their wonderful Uncle Mark.
If today's teen-agers feel the need to get high, please let them know this is not the way to do it. Huffing kills! -- DEBBY BENSON, WILMETTE, ILL.
DEAR DEBBY: I offer my deepest sympathy for the loss of your beloved younger brother. I join you in the fervent hope that the story of his tragic, senseless death will serve as a warning to teens who mistakenly believe that "huffing" is a harmless pastime. Thank you for writing.
DEAR ABBY: I had to giggle when I read the letter from the reader complaining about the Christmas gifts they had received in years past. It reminded me of a feminist joke. If you like it, feel free to print it. -- BURLESON, TEXAS, READER
DEAR READER: It's cute, and I'm sure many people will enjoy it. Read on:
THE FIRST CHRISTMAS
If on the first Christmas, the three wise men had been women, they would have asked for directions, arrived on time, cleaned the stable, helped deliver the baby, made a casserole and brought PRACTICAL gifts.
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