My passion to help stop the opioid crisis began in October 2017, when my little sister Laura Beth passed away from an opioid overdose. I wish her death didn't have to be the match that lit my passion for this cause, but I would like something good to come from this awful situation.
Laura was 21 when she passed away, just days away from her 22nd birthday. She was my best friend - always full of laughter and care for others. She loved animals, rock music, art, and taco bell. I ache thinking about not having her with me through all of the phases of life - marriage, kids, old age. I could talk to her about absolutely anything without judgement - a sister's opinion is the most honest and unfiltered there is, and I am so sad that I no longer have that.
She struggled with her addiction for roughly 4 years, using off and on until about 2 years ago when she started using and didn't stop until it ended her life. I mean it when I say my parents and I tried everything in our power to help her overcome her addiction, but even all of the help and love in the world wouldn't end up being enough. Possibly one of the most frustrating parts of addiction is not being able to do anything and watching your loved one change in front of you. The helplessness you feel knocks the breath out of your lungs.
Losing her has been the hardest thing I have ever gone through, and I have learned so much about grief and how I wasn't fully there for people who were grieving before I experienced this. No one understands how hard it is when people move on but you are still stuck in your bubble of pain and hurt. It is hard when people don't mention her or ask how you are doing, because they don't want to upset you or create an awkward situation. Inwardly I am screaming, let's talk about it! I want to talk about her and remember her, even if it is hard!
And finally, I don't want the cause of her death to be what she is remembered for. Her addiction didn't define her, it took over her happy, loving self, the person her true friends and family loved and miss so strongly. I want her to be remembered as a good person, as someone who would give you the shirt off of her back because she was so generous. She should be remembered as someone who loved animals, who loved to laugh, who had a love and passion for life. She was loved more than she even knew, it was evident by the show of support at her funeral. I only hope to make a difference and stop another sister, brother, mother, or father from experiencing this pain.