I am the mother of an addict. A very young 19-year-old quasi adult who took so much of my time and my energy… that I gladly gave, and the majority of my waking thoughts, plus a lot of my semi-sleep ones too. This photo was taken within a week before she died.
The void created in my heart on THAT day, the day she died, will never be filled. Not ever. And yet I continue to work every day to do just that.
In the last two days, I have worked on helping a newly clean addict find a place in a sober house, another addict in recovery to find a safe home to live in where nobody is looking for ‘payment in kind’. The father of an addict, whose child has for the first time agreed to get help, found some small relief today, and a lovely young lady who has been so successful in her recovery, had a slight slip and felt bad about herself but is back on track. These are my friends. I’ve been talking to one of the hardest working and committed group members we have about the great work she has been doing on Capitol Hill. I have been working as part of a team who are trying to organize our first large fundraiser, a 5K race. If we raise any money, it will be applied to great things. Awareness, education, recovery programs and family support. And I also have a full time job.
I have been asked how I find the time or energy, but of course, I now have the time and energy that I used to use having a relationship with my daughter. But, here is the big thing. For every minute I put into this, another person is putting in ten. I feel overwhelmed, but others are doing so much more. I read so many stories of parents who, after losing their children, focus on helping other…. I am certainly not unique, so many others have done this before me and very successfully. I follow in their path and thank these people for their guidance, leadership and commitment. I will not ever stop.
Almost six months ago I went to a drug symposium in Culpeper because my daughter had died four months earlier… she was nineteen years old.. I was starting a support group at that time and needed information and help,… oh my, so much help. They showed a film called Heroin The Hardest Hit: and Lauren (our 17 year old), and I sat there with white knuckles knowing we had to just get through it. I got to the end and ran out the door and Moira Meehan Satre followed me into the bathroom. She had lost her son just a couple of months earlier than we had lost Kathrine. We cried and held hands sharing a grief that not many understand. Today, I sat next to Moira once again as we watched the Chasing the Dragon video.
Again we held hands but this time was with resolve. Make no mistake, we are angry, we are sad, we are devastated, but we are not giving up. We didn’t save our own children, but goddammit, we are still working on saving yours.
I am going to lobby on Capitol Hill in two days time. What a terribly American thing to do and one to cross off my ‘bucket list’ for sure! For those of you who don’t know, I am an English person with a strange sort of mid-Atlantic accent.
This is a drug reform bill that has been three years in the making. People better than I have been working on it… for a long time! It will save lives and we all need to support it. We can argue on how many lives, but I know that one of those lives could have possibly been that of my own child.
I have started to understand that there had to be a perfect storm for Kathrine to die in this way and at the time she did. In order for our beautiful, imperfect daughter, born of imperfect parents, to be living in a geographical area of the world that was, for so many reasons, involved in an opioid epidemic, at that exact time she became a legal adult, making her own way in the world … WOW! We couldn’t have planned for all those pieces of the jigsaw to come together even had we tried.
And therefore, I will lobby on Capitol Hill in 48 hours, although I have no idea how to do that. Luckily, I will be with some of the members of our support group, and we will learn together. And, at the end of the day and between us all, we just may one day, save a child.