Go HERE for Part I
Go HERE for Part II
Now for Part III
If you have been following this story you know by now that I already have a world of things to be thankful for … I have my daughter’s life, my grandson’s life, and my mother’s life as well as the opportunity to rebuild a broken, torn relationship with my sister and her family. You also know by now that I fully trust in God’s plan and have discovered that it is important to be patient and wait for him to decide upon the good things in my life. I believe that without God there would be no good things … nothing to look forward to … nothing to be thankful for.
The past year has been less than pretty and definitely not an easy one. My family has faced many struggles and as you will read in the final chapter of this story the biggest struggle we have had to face is one that will be a lifetime struggle to maintain.
I have mentioned very little about my oldest daughter, Heather. I do this because I feel a need to protect her. Don’t get me wrong … I protect all of my family to the best of my ability but Heather is the special one … she was and is the one that just seems to ‘get it’. I gave birth to Heather while I was young and single. I was in a bad relationship and when I told her father that I was pregnant his response to me was that I would go to the clinic on Monday morning and take care of this little problem I had gotten myself into. He told me there was no way he was going to be a father and be responsible for a bratty kid. I rebelled and stood my ground. I told him I would NOT be visiting the clinic to take care of anything. I also told him that he couldn’t force me to do something I did not want to do. Of course my mouth ended up catching the backside of his hand and I quickly became a 4am punching bag. I knew then that I had to get away and never look back to the life I had become accustomed to. I ran from our apartment at 4am in the morning to a nearby neighbor’s seeking refuge until morning when I could make arrangements to gather my things and get out of dodge and that is exactly what I did. One of the toughest phone calls I’ve ever had to make was the one calling my mother to tell her I was pregnant and needed her help. I was living in VA at the time and I was ready to come home to the mountains of NC. Instead of turning her back like I expected her to do Mama put in motion a plan to get me home. I didn’t have to make another phone call or ask anyone else for help. Within an hour of calling my Mom I received a call from my Aunt and Uncle wanting to know where I was so they could come help me out and help me to get my things together so I could come home. A couple of days later all of my affairs in VA were settled and I was on my way home to NC. I spent the next few months getting ready to be a single mom and knowing deep in my heart that while I had absolutely nothing else in life to look forward to … I had a baby on the way that was depending on me. I had a perfect pregnancy. Labor and delivery was one of those that women dream of having. Three hours of mild pain and about four good pushes and I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Heather and I grew up together. I was there for her and she was there for me. We made a good team …
I could go in detail about the years Heather and I have put in together, almost 23 now, but I will spare you those details. Know that some of them were wonderful years … some were less that wonderful … and a few of them have been right down dreadful. Regardless we have always found our way back to a common ground with each other. She has been strong for me when I needed her to be and I have always been there for her. This past year was no different.
As a precursor to the events of this year … During one of those dreadful years Heather got involved with the wrong group of people and started plundering in the drug world. Her drug of choice seemed to be crystal meth and it got to the point where we as a family stood to lose everything because of her addiction and I finally realized it was time to stand my ground and give her the ultimatum … clean up … or get out. She thought I was kidding so she continued to push my buttons. One Sunday night she came in strung out on meth and pretty belligerent. I asked her to leave and she got in my face telling me that I wouldn’t have to worry about her much longer because she was tired of living and she was going to take care of the problem so that I could get along with my idea of a prefect life. Those were pretty much the words I was waiting to hear because I knew at that point she was considering taking her life … which meant she was a threat to herself … which meant that I had grounds for commitment. It was a long, hard fought night with her. She was too strung out on drugs to sleep and I wasn’t about to try to sleep for fear of her doing something irrational and me having to wake up and find her dead the next morning. About 7am on Monday morning Heather finally passed out and by then I was ready to do what I knew I had to do. I made a quick call to my Angie Angel and told her I was on the way to take out commitment papers and also told her that I would need a shoulder to cry on when it was all over with. I went to the Magistrates office, explained to him the events of the night before, and he did the paperwork to have her committed. I left and went back home to make sure she was still there and to be there when they came to pick her up. I had the worst feeling in my stomach … I felt that I had failed as a parent … and knew that the bond between Heather and I would never be the same. When the officers arrived to take her away she wouldn’t even look at me. She wouldn’t speak to me. She had nothing to say. They cuffed her and took her away. Later in the day she called to tell me where they were taking her and to ask if I would bring her a few things she would need while she was gone. I took her a change of clothes and a few personal items. She again refused to look at me. She did however tell me she was sorry for not being the child I expected her to be. I didn’t know how to respond. I didn’t know what to say. The only thing I knew was this was the last chance I had to save my daughter from dying at the hands of drugs. This would either work … or it would be the end. As I turned to leave the room I remember telling her that regardless of how angry she was with me at that very moment, I did what I felt I need to do to save her and that I loved her unconditionally. She only whispered that she loved me too. I walked away knowing that out lives would never be the same.
Four years later – three and a half of those drugs free – Heather will tell me that was the best thing I had ever done for her. Having her committed saved her life. God works in mysterious ways. If you are not familiar with or in touch with the life of a drug addict I can testify that it’s not an easy one. The life of a recovering addict is even tougher. Heather held on and she fought. Back in the late summer I started feeling that something was not right with Heather. Things just didn’t add up and she was becoming distant again. Although she continued to reassure me that she wasn’t using again I had my doubts then on Friday morning in late September my feeling came full circle.
Heather sent me a text message telling me she was in trouble and didn’t know what to do. I knew she should have been at work but she told me that she thought she had lost her job because she was just too strung out to go to work. She said she went by to pick up her paycheck and told her boss she couldn’t work that day. She said he told her if she didn’t come in, not to come back. The day rounded into a full circle … buying drugs, selling drugs to buy more drugs to sell to pay off a drug man, to be able to get more drugs to make it until another payday. A vicious cycle that by now was spinning out of control and she realized that Friday morning that she had hit rock bottom with no way up. She knew she needed help. I was working and couldn’t leave the office to get to her. I asked her to go home, go to her room, lock her door, and to stay in her room until I got home or until she came down off the drugs enough to think with reason. Later in the day she called me and she sounded better but you could hear fear in her voice. She wanted out of the drug world but she also knew that getting out the second time was much tougher than the first. All I could do was offer words of encouragement and make sure she knew that I was there to support her. Later in the day I went by her work place and talked to her boss. As a recovering drug addict he was more understanding than I expected him to be. He told me to get her straight and have her at work the next day. He would fight with the co-owner of the business to save her job because he knew how desperately she needed it. I passed these words of encouragement on to her. She sighed a tone of relief but she also knew she was going to have a long night coming down. At this time I didn’t have a clue what kind of drugs she was using or how much she had taken.
When I got off work I called home to see how thing were going and found out that Heather was sleeping. I knew that is what she needed to do. I proceeded with my regular Friday afternoon schedule. I picked up Stasha and Lil Man then went to pick up Mama so we could get some dinner. While we were sitting at dinner I got a call from Heather. She asked where her uncle Dean was. I told her he was on his way to Asheville then she asked where her cousin Brandon was. I thought it strange she would ask for these two people so I asked her what was going on … why did she want Dean and Brandon. She began to cry. She told me something bad was wrong. I felt it was her coming down from the drugs but then she told me she was scared and thought she was dying. She said her chest hurt … it felt like her heart was going to bust out of her chest … her head hurt … she said it felt like her brain was going to explode. She couldn’t move her arms, couldn’t feel her legs … she said her face was all tingly … her voice was slurred. I told her I was on my way home … to breath deeply and to keep talking. I grabbed the family and told them we had to leave … Heather was in trouble. On the way from the restaurant I saw some people from our Church and I just asked them to pray for Heather. I told them she was in trouble and to just pray.
Heather’s voice was getting more and more slurred. She was getting quiet. Stasha had called Dean to tell him Heather was in trouble and was asking for him … he turned around and headed back home. I told Heather I was hanging up to call 911 and have them send an ambulance … I did and when the 911 dispatcher answered the phone … it was Brandon … the other person that Heather was asking for. I quickly told him what was happening and asked that he send an ambulance to my house. I told him I was on my way but if they got there before I did the door was open to just go inside.
I began to pray … Mama was praying … that was all we could do … Pray.
I made it home, in front of the ambulance, to find Heather sitting in a chair in the living room staring into space. She gave only a slight response when I spoke to her. She said “Mama, it hurts”, “Mama, make the pain go away”, “Mama, help me”. The ambulance arrived and praise be to the good Lord above the paramedic was a long time friend of mine and he knew Heather’s past. A quick assessment showed that there was reason to believe that she had overdosed on whatever her drug of choice was for the day. I asked and she sluggishly responded that she had been doing cocaine, large amounts of cocaine, and she had been doing it over the past 24 hours or so.
Fast forward several hours later … Heather was out of the woods and the doctors were going to send her home. The doctor on call in the ER that night seemed to attach to Heather with a compassion that we were not expecting. He talked frank with her and told her how close she came to waking up on the bad side of a drug life. In other words … not waking up at all. He gave her information she would need to get in touch with people who could help her through the rehab process and told her he hoped he would never see her again in his ER under these circumstances.
I took Heather home. When we got there she went straight to the baby’s crib, picked him up, and just held him tightly and cried. She told him she was sorry for what she had done. She told him she was sorry for not thinking about him and for not being stronger for him. She told him that she knew she had to give up the drugs so she could be there to watch him grow up because she didn’t want him to grow up without his Aunt Heather. She then turned to me and said “Mama, this is why God sent me Bubby (this is what Heather calls Lil Man).” She said she knew that God sent us Lil Man for a reason but she didn’t know why. She said she also didn’t understand why God gave Lil Man to Stasha instead of her but now she knew. She knew that one day God would explain to her why everything was like it was. She said that God was giving her a second chance and God knew that Lil Man was going to be the provider of strength to her to get through this and to beat this addiction.
In that moment I knew my question of Why was fully answered. Lil Man was sent to us, by God. He is like an Angel sent down from Heaven to give us strength and to help us realize that God is ever present in our lives. Lil Man gave my mama a reason to fight her failing health and to want to recover and be strong again. Lil Man gave Heather a reason to fight her addiction. Lil Man has taught me to be humble to God’s blessings. Lil Man has taught Stasha patience. God has worked many miracles in our family this year and as we head now into the Christmas Season we have a world of God’s blessings to reflect upon.
Jesus is the reason for the Season and without him life would be without meaning.
May each and everyone of you have a blessed Christmas, a Happy New Year, and may each of you walk with God ever by your side and seek him at all times. Know that you are not alone … God is always with you. With him all things are possible