We’re reminded that life is fragile today. We’re reminded the power of choice, the choices of others and certainly our own. We hold the power to choose love and grace and kindness, and we hold the power to choose hate and terror and murder as well. We saw this in Norway, in the unthinkable tragedy there. Our hearts are more than heavy for the people of Norway and our prayers are for the loved ones of the many killed. We are sorry beyond words and we stand with you today. And we say the lives mattered. Your friend. Your sister. Your neighbor. Your son. Their life mattered. Their story mattered. 

And then with the news of the death of Amy Winehouse, we pause to say and remember that Amy was a person. She was more than a voice, more than a star, more than an addict. She was somebody’s daughter, somebody’s friend. Our hearts are heavy for her loved ones today.

Amy’s death reminds us that addiction is real, that it has stolen the lives of thousands and hurt millions more. Families all across this planet, literally thousands of them, know the weight and struggle of this difficult and confusing disease. If you know someone that is struggling, please talk to them. Encourage them to seek help. To quote my friend Aaron Moore, “We have to balance compassion and honesty.” Compassion means you tell them you love them. Honesty means you tell them the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable.

Over the last five and a half years, we’ve learned that recovery is possible, that lives do change for the best, that sobriety is possible. We have learned the power of counseling and treatment and, though it may sound simple, we’ve learned the power of friendship as well. We all need a support system. We all need other people.

Divided by oceans and borders today, we say that we are one, in all of this together. We are people mourning and people with questions and people in need. We pause to remember lives lost today, the ones in the news and the ones that go much quieter. We mourn the stories that ended too soon and we choose to fight for the ones still going.

Jamie Tworkowski – founder of TWLOHA