Meet Kathrine, the most beautiful baby ever. A new mom with a perfect tiny child, my dream had come true. Born a little early and pretty needy from the start… but that was OK with me. I had so much to give that a needy baby was not a problem. We spent 24 hours a day together. I slept when she slept, she was so tiny and I nursed constantly and she grew quickly. She and I had a wonderful bond that never changed, not ever.
We saw some problems early on, but didn’t think they were so bad. We started noticing by the time she was in middle school that she had some anxiety issues, and honestly, in elementary school some attention problems. But she was borderline. Never diagnosed with anything, never medicated and certainly never struggling in a social environment. Kathrine had many friends and went out of her way to support and take care of the underdog. To Kathrine, there was never anyone unworthy of help and support and she had limitless empathy and love to give.
Fast forward to the last year of high school. Kathrine got her CNA nursing license and started working in a local senior and rehabilitation home. She was the youngest employee and loved her patients, and they loved her. But during this time, she became involved with people who introduced her to substances that would eventually lead her on the path that would take her life.
At eighteen years old, Kat, as she was now known, realized that she wasn’t just partying hard, but she was drinking to black out. Bad things happened to her when she was drunk of which she had no memory of. She was scared. Amazingly, she at this age had the maturity to voluntarily go to rehab and join a sober living community. She did not want this to be her life. And it worked, it really did. For a year, Kathrine was clean, sober, working and self supporting. She was happy and beautiful and we were full of hope.
And then she felt strong enough to go it alone. Just turned nineteen and signed a lease for her own apartment. So full of hope for her future. But she wasn’t ready and in her own words, thought she just wanted to see if she really had a problem or could just drink like everyone else. And so she drank, and she couldn’t. Drunk one night about four weeks or so after moving out of her sober house, someone told her “keep still” and injected heroin into her hand. And, that was the beginning of the end. Twelve weeks later Kathrine was dead. Her first overdose was her last. The person who gave her the dose that killed her was arrested on the day that Kathrine was found dead in his house. After finding her warm but turning blue, he and his girlfriend spent the next fifty minutes shooting up and hiding evidence. She maybe could have been saved.
He is still in jail and my daughter who was so nervous that she would want a glass of champagne on her 21st birthday, that this would be her downfall, never made twenty.
I couldn’t save my child. Ask any mother how that feels and you will get a lot of different answers with a common theme. Guilt, sadness, disbelief and most of all, grief. Grief that I will never see my child reach her potential, and what potential she had.
And so, I started a support group, because I could find no support. And I educated myself in order to know how to help others, because I had none. And I have, through this, found some of the best people in my life who I now call family. This support group has become my lifeline and I hope, if you need help, it can become yours.
We ask that anyone impacted by this horrible disease will join us. Family members, addicts who are struggling, addicts in recovery, and persons who have lost loved ones to this.
Reach out. We are here.