A mom wrote to me: I’ve noticed a few derogatory comments on facebook regarding Whitney, the “drugggie.” I’ve responded by asking for their compassion. Give me some suggestions for other responses. 

Dr. MacAfee responds:  I don’t believe silence is warranted. You don’t need to explain, but you might describe and share, e.g., “My daughter is an addict. People don’t understand until they encounter addiction through a loved one and not the sensationalism of media that it’s very personal and more prevalent than people know or understand.”

I always share with my students that the addict is not having fun; he or she is addicted. The party ended long ago and the addict is now in a sandstorm of despair and trauma. No need to sensationalize the addiction or the experience. Just telling the truth of it is enough.

Today’s Promise to consider: I will share my personal story with those who do not understand. I will not get defensive; I will tell the truth of it. Compassion and understanding are gifts.


Papa Jeremy, Baby Iysa, Mom Aeriona, Nonna

First line from The Greatest Love of All

Sung by Whitney Houston (1963 – 2012)

Song written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed.

We offer this song popularized by Whitney Houston as a tribute to a star, a legend, who is responsible for some of the biggest music of her era. She battled drug addiction and we are reminded, once again, that addiction doesn’t discriminate.

When I was Head of School, I played this song for our students as a way of saying, “We believe in you. We believe that you are the future and, if we teach you well, you will lead the way. Your future is bright and we pass to you our strength, love and faith in you. Stay strong and know that we believe in you.” 

The Greatest Love of All

Greatest Love Of All

(the first stanza)

I believe the children are our future

Teach them well and let them lead the way

Show them all the beauty they possess inside

Give them a sense of pride to make it easier

Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be


Three years ago, I wrote: For me, as a mom, I’ve adopted a new motto: Talk Less, Pray More, and I usually remember to abide by it. I stay close to my sons, trying not to enable or interfere, and I respond with greater patience and understanding. My sons know that they are my priority, and I laugh when I tell them a familiar Italian expression, ‘la mamma è sempre la mamma,’ which means ‘the mother is always the mother.’ All over the world, this seems to be a universal truth.

My personal reflection on this passage: Jeff is sober today and our family lives in a space of gratitude. We also understand that we must stay humble in the face of addiction because it lurks in the shadows, always taunting, biding its time, gauging just the right moment when vulnerability is high and relapse is possible. We must stay humble and grateful – and continue to hope and believe.

Today’s Promise to consider: I can’t control or fix anyone or anything, but I can listen more closely, respond with greater compassion and pray more. And I will.




Jeff and his childhood friend Bryan

A dad, who has known my family for years, wrote to me: As I have read the many meditations, I hear again and again the echoing pain of separation, loss, parting, losing someone to addiction while trying so hard to hold on. Sometimes it is letting go of the old; sometimes it is being willing to step back and release in order to move forward.

The following Dickinson poem keeps coming to mind, especially the last idea that such loss is as close as we get to heaven and is surely all that we ever need to endure of hell.




My life closed twice before its close;

        It yet remains to see

If Immortality unveil

        A third event to me,

So huge, so hopeless to conceive,

       As these that twice befell.

Parting is all we know of heaven,

       And all we need of hell. 

Today’s Promise to Consider: I have friends who understand the pain of living with addiction even though they’ve never experienced the suffering first hand. I will open my heart to those who love me and my family and who want to support me. Just because they haven’t walked in my shoes doesn’t mean they can’t understand.