My family tree isn't precisely straightforward. When my parents divorced in 1980, my dad remarried and we now had four stepbrothers and one stepsister. My oldest stepbrother, Greg, was a great guy, but he had a lot to deal with in his life. He got a young woman pregnant when he was quite young. He married the young woman and had a daughter with her. The daughter, when she was quite young, had a daughter of her own. That daughter, who I guess would be my step-great niece, was actually a few months older than Benster. She died yesterday in Madison. Although we're not 100% certain of the cause of death, it's highly likely she died of an overdose of heroin.
The picture I've posted here is a mug shot of my step-great niece. She was arrested for stealing in 2015, primarily because of her habit. I remember Cavalina as a toddler and a little girl, but I didn't see a lot of her over the years. I particularly remember her and Benster having a great time doing little kid dancing at my brother's wedding. That was a long time ago, 1999. Cav spent some of her time growing up with my stepbrother, who was her grandfather, but she also spent a lot of time with her mother in a very unstable household. I have no idea about her father, if he played any role in her life, but from my understanding that role was minimal. I know that Cav was in and out of treatment on multiple occasions, but in recent weeks she'd gone back to using. It didn't have to be this way. It never does, but the needle never goes away. Until it does.
Cav's mother, my step-niece Connie, has had a hell of a life, too, filled with nasty boyfriends, mental illness and a myriad of other issues. Connie's mother, Cav's grandmother and my stepbrother's first wife, was a beautiful young woman, but she had more demons than just about anyone I've ever known. She died a few years ago. My stepbrother, who struggled with diabetes his whole life died two years ago from complications of that disease. There's death everywhere you look in this family.
It would be easy to rail on these people for the bad choices they made, but it's never that simple. You have four generations in this cycle; if Greg were alive today, he'd only be 60 years old. He was a great-grandfather at the age of 58. How so? Cav also had a child, a little boy. He's about 2 years old now. He's an adorable little guy. I don't know what will happen to him, but I hope he can break free of the cycle. It has to end some day.