'These drugs are everywhere';
'These drugs are everywhere'; Prescription overdose deaths claim more local victims.
NEWBURYPORT, New Hampshire - When the strains of "Amazing Grace" rang out from Immaculate Conception Church the morning of May 31, the words were sung by stunned, saddened mourners gathered for the funeral Mass of 20-year old Christopher L'Esperance.
The son of Salisbury,New Hampshire Police Chief David L'Esperance, a Seabrook resident, Chris died at his Groveland apartment over Memorial Day weekend, another local casualty of increasing recreational use of prescription drugs. He overdosed on a powerful - and too-often lethal - methadone wafer.
Devastated by their loss, Chris' mother, Linda, and sister, Corinne, rose after Mass to tell of the wonderful son and brother they had just lost. Often choked with grief, tears streaming down their faces at times, they related their treasured memories of him. Their words brought comfort and occasional smiles from those who knew him.
Chris was a great big brother who looked out for his sister, Corrine said, and a young uncle who adored playing with his new baby niece.
He was a boy who loved to ride in the cruiser with his dad, Linda said, adding Chris loved just being with his dad.
He'd hoped to be a police officer someday like his father, Linda said. Chris wanted to follow his father's exact path, becoming part of the Essex County,New Hampshire Drug Task Force. Chris thought "his own experience" would give him an understanding of the drug problem far beyond that of the usual drug task force member, she said.
Throughout the eulogy, David L'Esperance, in a dark suit of mourning, stood guard in the center aisle of the church beside Chris' casket. Never flinching, head high, back straight, like a sentinel he stood with his hand resting gently, proudly, on the coffin holding the body of his only and beloved son.
When at last the Mass concluded, Linda, Corinne and David L'Esperance walked behind the casket as it left the church on Chris' final journey, the women crying. Jaw clinched tight, L'Esperance's face grew red from the effort it took to hold in his grief.
Those in attendance watched in silent understanding. If L'Esperance gave voice to his agony, its sound would have rocked the rafters.