By: Jesse Solomon
While most of us spent our childhoods fingerpainting and swinging on the playground with other like-minded children, Lily Morris spent her days at a much different type of daycare—rehab.
From sitting on the piano during Shabbat services, to running around the zen garden with her newly sober father, Lily has been immersed in the Beit T’Shuvah community so heavily and for such a long time that when she grew up, people who weren’t drug addicts seemed abnormal to her. She was loved by all of the residents and staff members as if she was the young princess of a nation called Beit T’Shuvah. Now, nearly 18 years later, she has returned to her kingdom to claim her birthright—a job in the med room handing out antidepressants and ibuprofen.
More than most people, Lily has witnessed how Beit T’Shuvah can save lives. When she was little, she would spend weekends with her father in the karate studio he lived behind, attending random kids’ karate birthday parties. At the time, she didn’t know her father had gone off the rails and started using again, but the older she got, the more that both her parents’ addictions become apparent to her. Beit T’Shuvah changed all of that and brought her father back into her family. Now, Lily works alongside her father here at the place that gave her dear old dad his life back.
For longer than Lily can remember, she has had altruistic aspirations. She has always wanted to give back to people, specifically the people that need the most help, the people like her parents—addicts.
While many people would describe Lily as a “normie,” anyone who has met her can be sure that she is anything but normal. People often misuse the term “normie.” A normie is someone who doesn’t understand the struggles of addiction—not someone who isn’t an addict themselves. A parent who lost a child to an overdose, a doctor who refers struggling patients to treatment centers, a daughter of two drug addicts who has watched them fall in and out of recovery her whole life—these are not normies. These are allies. Lily is exactly this type of ally and more.
While her job details include setting up psychiatry appointments and dispensing medication (along with a bunch of other duties that I can barely wrap my non-clinical brain around) she goes above and beyond all of that. When residents need an open ear and a friendly face, Lily is there. When a new resident stuck in quarantine needs advice Lily is there (in full COVID-safe accoutrement). When someone needs a good chuckle while they scarf down their medication, Lily is there.
For many of Beit T’Shuvah’s residents and staff members the future is bright, but Lily’s future is blinding. No matter what she puts her mind to, she excels at it. She is an absolutely incredible writer (to an extent that makes me both angry and deeply jealous); she is a fantastic boxer (she clearly picked something up from those days at the karate studio birthday parties); and she’s an all around wonderful and brilliant young lady (I don’t have anything clever to say here except that if any of us were half as smart and kind as she is, we would be better people than most). It is truly a gift to be able to know her.
When Lily started interning as a PF last summer, she had no idea that she would then return from college and be promptly offered a job doing something completely different. Currently, she is looking into going back to school to get her PhD in psychology. I believe I can speak for this entire community, those of us who have watched her grow here, and those of us who have just met her recently, when I say that she will have a wonderful career and will help scores of people along the way. We are all blessed everyday by her presence. The residents have never been happier to take their medication and the staff has never been so pleased to have an easy going, kind soul in the halls. There has never been more joy and laughter brought to the med window and that’s all thanks to Beit T’Shuvah own Princess Lily Morris.