I Will Never Let My Daughter Be Forgotten

Heroin stole my daughter and I will never let my girl be forgotten. Through her story I hope to help others.

When you have children, you never dream that you will outlive them. Addiction stole my daughter and changed my life forever. My first born, my person, my baby girl, is gone forever.

Shalynn Brooke Conner was a beautiful young lady whose smile could light up a room. Growing up, she loved life and couldn’t wait to see what the world had in store for her in the future! Shalynn had a zest for life that showed in everything she did. At a young age she began singing at church, local events and talent shows. Her love for music carried through to school where she sang in concerts and participated in marching band playing the clarinet. Shalynn always loved high school where she participated in many activities such as the school play, cheerleading and Spanish Club. She was even chosen Homecoming Queen which was possibly one of the best days of her short life. She was accepted into her college of choice and was planning to move to school in the fall of 2013.

Shalynn was a daughter that any parent would be proud of! She was a one of a kind, fun-loving kid who loved her family, as she would say… to the moon and back! Although she enjoyed hanging out with her friends, many weekends she could be found staying at her Grandma Long’s house or spending time at home with her mom, step-father and her brother. She was independent, knew what she wanted in life and had dreams of getting married and having a beautiful family.

All of those plans changed when she started hanging out with a different group of people just a few short months before her high school graduation. By the time she graduated in 2013, she was already experimenting with marijuana. Within months her drug use had escalated and she withdrew from college. This was the beginning of a four year addiction that she struggled with every day. There were times during these four years that we didn’t know where she was. I remember driving the streets of neighboring towns looking for her car or just asking people if they had seen her. I would find her and sometimes she would go to treatment, come home, be clean for a few months, but then she would take off again. It just seemed to be a vicious cycle that she couldn’t escape. Finally on Dec. 22, 2016 she called me and asked me to come get her. This was the call I had been praying for! I drove 45 minutes to get her and when she walked out the door, I didn’t even recognize her. She had been abused by her boyfriend and was in withdraws from heroin. She had bruises on her, weighed about 100 pounds and hadn’t eaten in days. But thankfully at that time she was adamant that she wanted to get clean.

Shalynn didn’t want to be an “addict”, she wanted to walk away from her addiction and go back to the life that she loved so much before drugs. She worked hard every day to beat the chains of addiction. Shalynn completed 6 months inpatient treatment and came home to start a new life. She wanted to share her story and hopefully discourage others from trying drugs in the first place. Unfortunately, the grip of addiction wouldn’t let her go and she relapsed.

On the evening of Oct. 13, 2017, Shalynn came home from work like any other evening. We visited, she mentioned she wasn’t feeling good but insisted on going over to a friend’s house. It was harvest season and she had extreme allergies so I believed her when she said it was just her allergies acting up. She hugged me, told me she loved me and was out the door. Less than 2 hours later she woke me up to tell me she was home. She told me again that she didn’t feel well and just wanted to go to bed. She hugged me and said “night Mama, I love you!” Little did I know that it would be the last time I would hear her voice.

I had no idea that she had relapsed until I walked into her room on the morning of Oct. 14, 2017 and found her unresponsive. She had passed away sometime in the middle of the night from an accidental heroin overdose. She was only 22 years old. Just like that my sweet girl was gone.

Today I work to educate others about addiction and overdose through a non-profit started after Shalynn passed. Through Shalynn’s Hope, Inc. it is my hope to reach as many people as I can to help prevent any other families from having to go through the pain of losing someone to addiction. I will never let my Shalynn be forgotten and through sharing her story, I know she is leading me to help others. I love you baby girl, forever and always my angel.

Forever Shalynn’s Mom
Stacy Welch