This is the most difficult post I have ever attempted to write. There are no words to express the deep emotional experience one goes through after losing a loved one, but to lose a loved one to addiction is beyond inexplicable. In light of this being Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week, I somehow feel compelled to use whatever platform I have created here in my little corner of the world wide web to share my beautiful baby sister, Kimberly, with all of you.
My Mother and I both agree: Kimy was a wild child. Her beaming smile, infectious laughter and genuinely big, beautiful heart brought a light into this world that no one can possibly ever replace. However, despite her loving nature and fighting spirit, Kimy struggled with substance abuse from a young age. I know that this is not something we like to talk about. Addiction. It’s not a comfortable topic. Not at all. I will not assume to know what causes one person to be more vulnerable and prone to abuse/addiction than another, but I do know that the stigma of drug/alcohol addiction leads to deep personal shame and loneliness. And that mentality, my friends, has to be evaluated and deconstructed. Because the thing about substance addiction is that it isn’t biased – young, old, woman, man, wealthy, poor, genius, uneducated – it has no boundaries, no rationality, and it’s grip is stifling at it’s best, deadly at it’s worst.
In my heart I know that regardless of the fact that she was in and out of various homes, treatment centers and jail, Kimy made an impression on everyone she met. We were told on numerous occasions from treatment advisors and sponsors that she was always warm, willing to be open and that she made people feel welcome. So, even though my sweet, beautiful baby sister did not win this fight, I am comforted knowing that though she walked a dark path, she had a light within her that could not be destroyed.
In 2013, after a long stretch of sobriety, Kimy married a man that I can still honestly say was good for her. They understood each other and they were very much in love. However, after a devastating relapse, Kimy overdosed on what we assume she thought was heroin, as that was her drug of choice. It was, in fact, a deadly mix of cocaine and two types of Fentanyl. This was four months ago. The photograph above is not only the last one I will ever have of her and the only one I have of just her and I as adults, but it was taken on the last day I ever saw her and that beautiful smile, heard her laugh, looked into her eyes, hugged her, told her how immensely proud I was of her and how much I loved her.
Please hug your little people tight. Let’s really teach our children the crippling dangers of drugs and alcohol. Talk and talk and talk more. Talk until your voice is so ingrained into their minds that they have no choice but to think about the consequences. And then listen. Listen to what your children are saying. Monitor what they are watching and who they are spending time with. I don’t know about ya’ll, but I choose to be proactive and transparent with my children. I believe that we protect them the best we can by arming them with our love, support and guidance.
Sigh. That’s all I have to say about this.
I love you, Kimy.
photo credit:Lu Lu Love Photography