By ROSIE WATERLAND
There has been a lot of talk in the last few days about the inquest into the death of Peaches Geldof. After it was revealed that she had died of a heroin overdose – her eleven-month-old son left alone with her dead body and dozens of syringes for 17 hours – a lot of people had a lot to say.
There are those who have spoken of the tragedy surrounding her death, calling her a ‘fallen angel’ who lost her fight with the disease of addiction. There are others who called bullshit on that line of discourse, and who insisted there should be no sympathy for a ‘junkie’ who was selfish enough to put her child at that kind of risk.
The debate in the media about Peaches seems to have boiled down to one about addicts and choice: Just how much blame can we place on someone who was struggling with addiction? And when you’ve quantified that blame, how much sympathy, if any, does Peaches deserve?
There are valid arguments on both sides, and plenty of people have been willing to make them.
But you know what? I don’t care.
I don’t care about how much sympathy Peaches deserves. I don’t care about her struggle as an addict and what impact that had on her ability to make sound decisions.
I don’t care, because I think it’s the wrong thing for us to be focussing on. And if we’re going to continue to be morbidly fascinated and saddened by the circumstances surrounding her death, we might as well be asking the right questions.
As somebody who once was that 11-month-old, as somebody who spent her childhood being left alone with addicted and extremely mentally disturbed parents, I can tell you what question I want to ask:
Regardless of how hard she was trying to get clean, why the hell was Peaches left alone with her children?
It was revealed at the inquest that her husband, Thomas Cohen, had been aware that Peaches had been back on heroin since February. He knew that there was heroin and needles in the house. He knew that she was trying, but failing, to stop taking drugs.
And yet, he went to his parents’ house for the weekend and left her alone with their 11-month-old son.
Given her addiction, it’s unlikely that was the first time Peaches had been left alone with one or both of her young children while under the influence.
So where were all the other adults in those boys’ lives? Where were the adults saying, “You know what, we can debate about the legitimacy of addiction later; right now we just need to GET THOSE KIDS OUT OF THE DAMN HOUSE.” Why weren’t any adults, particularly her husband, stepping in and refusing to let Peaches care for those boys on her own?
Forget Peaches’ ability to make decisions – an addict can’t be expected to make sound parenting choices. Why the hell aren’t we talking about the choices made by everybody else in those little boys’ lives?
Looking back on my own childhood, I struggle to understand how my sisters and I were constantly left alone with one or both of our parents. I’ve written before about my frustration with the system continuing to send us back into a traumatic environment. But outside of government intervention, I also can’t comprehend the choices made by the responsible adults in our lives who were meant to be there for us.