Submitted by his sister, Meredith Murphy
Scott and his nephew at a New England Patriots game
Scott and his nephew watching the New England Patriots beat the New York Jets on Christmas Eve 2016

Scott was naturally funny

He was three years younger than me, and he was the funniest kid in any room. (I still call him a kid, although he died at age 38.) His stories and impressions of others would have you rolling with laughter. It’s so cliché to say, but he just had such a way of connecting with people. He could make everyone in the room laugh within five minutes of being in there.

Family and friends were important to him

He loved the hell out of his dad, his sister, his brother-in-law, his nephews and niece, and all his friends and coworkers. My best memories are of him hanging at our house with the kids and my husband, cracking us up and letting the kids pile on him.

Everywhere he went, he made really close friends right away. That was what my eulogy was about. He made connections.

He was the best uncle to my three kids

Scott was an awesome gift-giver. He never gave the kids anything remotely practical, but he would give them very stylish clothing or professional-quality ice skates for my 4-year-old.

On Christmas Eve 2016, it was pouring rain and he took my then-9-year-old son to a New England Patriots game that they won by about 40 points. The two of them stood in the cold rain and enjoyed every second. That’s the kind of uncle he was.

Scott’s proudest accomplishment

It was probably being promoted to chef-manager at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with no culinary training whatsoever.

Scott was the kind of person who was irritatingly good at things — he was good at everything. He graduated high school but didn’t go to college. After a visit to a job counselor, he ended up getting a job as a line cook at Emmanuel College, and he just worked his way up.

Scott carving the Thanksgiving turkey
Scott carving the Thanksgiving turkey

After he’d been at Emmanuel a few years, he was recruited to manage the kitchen at MIT, which he did for a few years. He had a great work ethic.

He was particularly good in the kitchen at Thanksgiving

Scott was always the one swooping in at the last moment and rescuing my meal! My most vivid memory is of him busting my dad’s butt while carving the Thanksgiving turkey. They ribbed on each other so much but were the best of friends.

How drugs became part of Scott’s life

Scott was probably drinking and smoking pot early on in high school, if not earlier. He’d moved on to the “hard stuff” before graduating high school. He did time in jail for drunk driving and was in rehab quite a few times. Scott missed my 2004 wedding because he was in court-enforced rehab. I know he always felt guilt over that.

Scott wasn’t perfect

He had an addiction that took over his life, but he also made some bad choices. He had a big sense of entitlement — that the world owed him a favor.

How our relationship changed because of opioid-use disorder

To be honest, I had blinders on about the whole thing. I knew when he was using — he could barely stay awake at our house — but was in denial and tried to force him to be “normal.”

How Scott fought addiction

Scott at work
Scott at work in the kitchen

Scott’s struggles were decades long. For a number of years we thought he was “clean” (still smoking pot and cigarettes), but it turns out he was not. He’d been using heroin again but was able to hold down his job and function, which made it hard to know he was struggling.

He hid his addiction so well because he never wanted to be a burden on anybody. It’s amazing to me that he was able to hold a demanding job, working 50 to 60 hours a week. He made good money. Addiction can be hidden in plain sight. It’s not always someone who’s in a street corner.

How Scott died

He went to work one day, but he was very high on something and they sent him home. He ended up dying that night.

How I found out

I travel for work. I was in a hotel room in Nova Scotia FaceTiming with my husband and kids, and my husband said, “Hey, Mere, I gotta go. Your dad is calling me.” My dad sometimes calls my husband because he doesn’t want to bother me.

My husband called a few minutes later — he was calling from the car because he didn’t want the kids to hear. He told me Scott was dead. That’s how we found out.

Scott lived with my dad, and he died in his room at home of an overdose. My hope, if you can have a hope in that situation, is that he died immediately.

We had to tell the kids

Our kids were 10, 8 and 6 then. I told them that their uncle had a disease and it killed him. It was pretty hard on them. I hope that someday these stories will help them, that they’ll feel some fear of addiction. They have to know how he died.

If I could say one thing to Scott, it would be

I wish you’d reached out to me when it got bad again. I don’t know what we could’ve done, but we would’ve tried. I wish I’d pushed harder to get you clean.

I feel like I could have fought a little harder

The week before Scott died, he called me asking for money. I gave it to him because I wanted to be a good sister. But it was stupid of me to do that. I should have asked more questions. I do think about that. We wish we had done more. We just didn’t know how bad it was.

But even if I had, I legit wouldn’t have known who to call. Where do you turn when you think someone has a problem with addiction? If you think someone’s in trouble, who do you call?

[Editor’s note: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association staffs a free, confidential, 24-hour hotline at 1-800-662-HELP.]

We should do away with the word “junkie”

I see people using it on social media. When I see or hear that word, I actually recoil. You’re almost criminalizing something that no one is choosing to do. Sure, they shouldn’t have started taking drugs, but they maybe didn’t know that after just a few times using, their brain chemistry actually changes and they develop a dependency.

I do see more people becoming aware of that. I guess that’s a good thing.