I would like to introduce you to my kind, empathetic, smart, artistically talented, beautiful daughter Brenna. I would like to – but instead I will share her story and introduce you to her living spirit as her body left this world on December 10, 2014.
Growing up Brenna did all the “normal” things – girl scouts, ballet lessons …. She was a good student and was accepted to every college she applied to. All of that was before – before she got fallen on during a cheerleading practice – before the doctor prescribed pain medication for the 2 fractured disks that resulted from this accident. So much I didn’t know.
Brenna quickly fell into active addiction and she hated being there. She used to cry and say things like “I feel like I’ve wasted my life” and “I can’t believe I’ve done this to myself”. So much I didn’t know – but I was starting to learn. I found a rehab that was mostly covered by our insurance but she wouldn’t go – instead she chose to go into a methadone treatment program. She participated in the program for 25 months – and it did keep her off heroin – but, it didn’t provide any counseling and it didn’t provide a “new” community for her. For 2 years she secluded herself – living back at home and refusing to go anywhere without an immediate family member (all of this at 22 & 23). She struggled with the idea of replacing one drug with another and successfully weaned off the methadone. However, without the counseling, without the community it didn’t take long for her to relapse. She cried when she told me. By this time I was just a little smarter.
We found a treatment center out of state that would then locate a sober living facility for her once she completed the program. Off she went looking at me and saying “You have no idea how badly I want this”. On the morning of December 8, I got the phone call – she was in “extremely critical condition” in an Atlanta hospital. On the 10th we found out that she had only 2 small portions of her brain with any remaining functioning and one of those allowed her to feel pain. We had her removed from life support.
I miss my daughter desperately every day but do feel that she is here with me. I believe that she led me to The McShin Foundation, a RCO based in Richmond, VA. Here I found a community in recovery helping and supporting others striving to find their own recovery. I learned that recovery truly is possible when you have a “village” to make it so. Brenna has given me a community that understands. She has given me a way to honor her and her time here with me by working with this community. I feel her with me every day – but never more so than when I’m with my McShin family. While I am heartbroken that I didn’t know that such places existed when searching for help for her, I am so grateful that she led me there.