Christmas was just around the corner, a time for families to get together.
Aidan Harrington, a third-year student at the University of King’s College in Halifax, had just booked his bus ticket home on Wednesday evening for that weekend. He was excited to see his family in Spring Valley, P.E.I., especially his younger brother Quinn.
“We were all so happy to be reunited as a family,” said Aidan’s dad Alan, as he remembered the final moments before his world turned upside down.
“Aidan had movies lined up for Quinn to watch on the cold winter nights. They were very close. Things were going well for Aidan. He planned to return to Kensington and become an elementary school teacher after graduation. He had his whole life planned out – even his future kids’ names.”
But one bad decision changed everything.
On Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, Aidan experimented with a psychedelic drug – it cost the 20-year-old his life.
“The last contact he had was with his roommates and everything seemed fine. He was watching a movie, celebrating the end of soccer season,” choked heartbroken mother Valerie. “Even though Aidan researched (misleading information of) the drug online and in books, he underestimated its strong side-effects.”
In the know
A free public forum coming up on drug use in Summerside. The event will be held in Three Oaks Senior High School Gym on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Hundreds of lives were left devastated in the wake of Aidan’s drug-related death – from family, friends, those he coached in soccer and basketball, including the imprint he left on the heart of the Kensington community.
He could have been anyone’s happy-go-lucky son and that’s what hit the community so hard, said Valerie.
“The biggest thing is, there is this mentality that it will never happen to you. Young people have an attitude of invincibility. Aidan never anticipated that he would not wake up the following morning,” Aidan’s sister Hannah, reflected.
She continued, “People discuss addiction and stereotypes, but it needs to be stressed to the public that it can happen to anyone – all it takes is one bad decision by an innocent to change not one, but hundreds of lives.”
Now the Harrington family are raising awareness in light of the free public forum coming up on drug use in Summerside. The event will be held in the Three Oaks Senior High School gym on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
“We were very close,” shared Quinn. “I would talk to Aidan and ask for his advice, so his absence has been very difficult for me. He was my confidant in life.”
Hannah added, “He was always the one to go to if I needed help with school or with anything. He was just always there.”
The Harringtons hope prevention programs will be implemented in high schools, parents will be made aware and open conversations will be held by everyone to raise awareness on the dangers of drug use.
“Losing a child is something you never get over. It’s a different kind of loss. We’ve lost other people in our lives, not to diminish that, but there is nothing that could have prepared us mentally for what happened,” concluded Valerie.