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Don’t ever stop believing

A couple of months ago, my teenage niece texted me “Guess what?” As she was nearly 17, it could have been anything — a new zit, a boy smiled at her, a girl said something about her behind her back. So I texted back, “What?”

“Cory Monteith is dead.”

I know my heart didn’t literally stop but it may as well have. My niece, Stephanie, and I are “gleeks,” the term used to affectionately described fanatics of the television show, “Glee.” In a nutshell, for those unaware, the show features a high school glee club made up of “nerds” and outcasts that the rest of the school looked down on. A typical greeting by a non-glee member — usually a jock — to a glee member was a slushy to the face.

Although the show is known to build episodes around musical themes, the first season featured “Don’t Stop Believin’,” the smash ’80s hit by Journey. It became their theme of sorts since the glee club was seen as losers who’d never be as popular as the jocks or cheerleaders.

Cory was a key member of the group, portraying Finn Hudson, a good-looking, tall, dark-haired student with pipes. We, the viewing public, learned of his substance abuse problem months before he died. I know I was praying for his recovery and I’m sure millions of other fans were too.

His death in July from a combination of heroin and alcohol shouldn’t have been a surprise. I mean, people who use or combine drugs and alcohol often die from overdoses. How many times have we seen it? Marilyn Monroe (conspiracy theories aside), Heath Ledger, Belushi, Farley, Judy Garland, Lenny Bruce and countless musicians, including Elvis and Michael Jackson, just to name a few, all succumbed and are gone forever.

Who’s to say which were suicides and which were accidental? Does it really matter? They knew the risks and took them anyway.

I covered a DUI Court graduation earlier this month in Clayton County. Six participants completed the grueling, intense program to avoid jail for DUI. It wasn’t the first such graduation I’ve covered and written about. It is a part of my job I enjoy because the graduation is all about success.

I cover so many cases in which people have just failed at everything, to the point they spend years in prison.

Yes, the people in the program are responsible for where they were in life and personal responsibility is part of their growth progress.

Hopefully, they are people who, once they complete the program, won’t run the risk of killing themselves or others by remaining sober. I think it’s great and I wish them all the best.

On the way home from the ceremony, “Don’t Stop Believin’” came on the satellite radio ’80s channel. I’ve always loved the song but it evokes more emotions in me than before. Cory Monteith stopped believing. The half-dozen DUI Court graduates didn’t. They stuck it out, persevered and fought the good fight. I hope they continue to be successful.

Don’t ever stop believing. It’s what keeps you alive.