For 10 years I watched my sister struggle with first oxys, then percs, then heroin. I watched her beautiful, sweet spirit beaten up over and over by the dirty tricks addiction plays. She took a beating physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, financially, and yet, every time I needed her, there she was, waiting to help me in any way she could. She never wanted to leave us. She never wanted to let heroin take over her life. She hated it. She hated what it did to her, and she hated that she couldn’t stop. Of course, I went through all of the emotions and pain that everyone who loves an addict goes through. But, I never wanted anything but peace for her. I would’ve switched places with her if I could’ve, but that isn’t how heroin works.
After ten years of struggling, crying, hoping and praying, I lost my sister on August 17, 2014. She died on a bathroom floor-the one place I never wanted her to die. I’ll never stop missing her. I’ll never stop longing to here her voice, or feel her hug just one more time.
My sister was smart and talented. She wrote the most beautiful poetry. A year after she died, I started reading her poetry over and over. I finally HEARD her. I finally was able to really understand all of the things she was saying in that poetry. I decided our story, her poetry and this message was to important to keep hidden away.
It took me only 6 months to write our entire story into a book that shows how addiction can happen to anyone, and why we need to stop it. I titled it The Book: The Story of Red Tail Hawk for her favorite poem titled ‘ Red Tail Hawk’. I have used this book, that captures her voice and struggle, to share hope that it IS possible to love without enabling, to teach kids in schools about the importance of prevention, and to prove to those struggling with addiction that they ARE loved and have people PULLING for them every day! My sister always wanted to be a writer, and now, she finally is a published author.
I have been told by numerous families that this book opened communication for them to talk to their kids about drugs. Iv been told that family members struggling have actually read this story, and made amends with family members after finally realizing what their family has gone through on their behalf…I have been told ” thank you” for making people feel like they finally weren’t alone.
Since losing my sister I’ve come to realize how short life is. In her poem, she said:
“If they say that life’s a gift
Then mine is yet to be unwrapped
I have to search my soul for the
And try to bring her back
But it’s not going to be easy
Of this I am quite sure
For this disease that I am up
Isn’t known to have a cure”
My only hope is that in some way, in honor of my sister, I can help as many people “unwrap their gifts as possible.” I hope we can help spare some family from the tragedy that we have suffered. Nothing will ever bring Amanda back, but knowing her voice lives on- with purpose- helps to ease the burning in my heart just a tiny bit.