She was a miracle. A child born when I was late in age. Perfect! With dark curly hair and big blue eyes. And charisma for miles. She was the light of our lives, until her father left for greener pastures. Then, she was my everything. Bright. Funny. Quick-witted. She never ceased to amaze me. Her insights into other people were spot on, her truths were exact. This child was an amazing human being.
And now you are thinking that this story will end with death – but it hasn’t. Not yet. She still struggles. She’s in her 11th rehab in 4 years. And I march on.
Three times I have entered her room, awakened by what can only be called the grace of God to administer Narcan. Blue. I have seen my child blue – dead – for all intents and purposes. I have breathed for her. Three times. I have brought her back from the dead. And that is not something you can forget. That is something that wakes you up in the middle of the night and shreds your soul. That is a picture that hits you when you least expect it – blue lips, cold when you breath into her mouth. That knowing never goes away. And she’s overdosed many more times when I was not there.
When I finally realized that the problem was heroin, I did not look away. I faced it straight on. She became addicted after a long illness, spinal meningitis. She was in a coma for a week, and I stayed by her side. When she squeezed my fingers at the end of that week, I rejoiced! My baby was still in there! And she was coming back. Coming back to me, to the world, to her life! But the Morphine was playing a silent and deadly game. It had a strong hold of her, and then heroin intervened. Administered the first time through her pick line that was there to give her morphine, because the morphine was not enough – by a boyfriend that was well acquainted with the monkey on his back. And I was so foolish that I did not know.
So, once I did know, I did not shy away. I faced down the heroin! I researched, I learned, I fought back. I still fight. But the irony – the pain – is that it is not my fight. It is her fight alone. And no matter how many times I save her life, it will never be enough for it is her fight.
And even though this fight is hers, I go along, a frightened, lonely camp follower staggering along behind. I’m not able to help, not able to intervene nor even remove myself from this painful drama. I am destined to remain outside the horror, looking in, filled with rage and fear.
It has changed me fundamentally. I was kind and loving. Now I wish ill on her suppliers. I no longer know who I am. And this makes me want to scream! It makes me want to fight! I want to face down this demon eye to eye, face to face. I do not care if I die, because it would be worth it to see her free. Free from this horror. Free from this demon that causes her to crave to keep from hurting any more. But it’s not my fight to wage. It is hers. And I feel worthless.
This is why I am sharing my story. Thankfully, my daughter is six months clean. She’s fighting the good fight, and I offer her encouragement and try to stay out of her way, and offer love – so much love. So, I send prayers and well wishes to all dealing with substance use disorder. I stand as a witness to this abomination that is wrecking horror on an entire generation. I do not know what to do, so I will do all that I can. I will shout to the mountain tops to champion Narcan (naloxone). I will do what I can to fight to remove the stigma of substance use disorder so that more people will seek help and be free. I will stand on the sidelines and cheer the victories of others who have kicked that sorry demon and sob alongside other parents who have lost their child.
If my part is to bear witness, then bear witness I will. And I will not bear it alone, nor quietly. Hear me! It could be your child! We must awaken and fight together to save these souls. They are worth saving.