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On International Overdose Day, we would like to express our gratitude to Kristin Molinaro, Volunteer Program Coordinator for Hope for Mentally Ill, for her guest post sharing a very personal story about her mother’s death from a drug overdose. From the Hope Xchange family, our heartfelt condolences for your loss and we’re sure your mother would be so proud of all that you do to help other families not go through what you did Krissy.
I can recall July 11, 2005 — the day my mother died from a drug overdose — like it was yesterday. Just the day before I had a lovely conversation with her about my upcoming birthday and having lunch with her new granddaughter. The world felt shiny and new. My mom was excited to be a grandmother and loved spending time with her Ava.
On that day, I did not hear from my mother which was odd as we had made plans to have lunch the day before. My mom had been battling an addiction to alcohol and prescription painkillers for many years and had moved up to heroin. She was living in a hovel in a fellow addict’s basement when I received the call that forever altered my existence.
I Knew She Was Gone the Instant I Got the Call
Irvington General Hospital called and said I needed to get down there right away. I knew she was gone the instant they called. My mom has gotten drunk to the point of blacking out and needing IVs on many occasions and previous hospital calls never sounded like this one.
I was sitting on the carpet in my bedroom with the landline in my hand in disbelief. I didn’t want to face the fact that my mother was dead in that hospital, her lifeless body stiffening and growing cold on a table. I had always known it was a possibility since she abused her body and was throwing up blood just days before her passing but I still didn’t want to believe it.
The Look On Their Faces Told Me All I Needed To Know
When we finally got to the hospital, I could not believe my eyes. Her so called druggie friend was there wearing her shirt, skulking around the facility as he was not allowed in as he was not family. I instantly ran up to him and punched him in the face and knocked his glasses forcing him to stumble. My husband, not wanting his wife in jail the same day his mother-in-law died, quickly dragged me into the hospital.
The nurses didn’t have to say much. I kept saying where is she? Where is my mother? Is she dead? The look on their faces told me all I needed to know. After what felt like forever, a doctor finally came out to tell me my mother had passed in the ambulance en route to the hospital. No Narcan was administered as many ambulances didn’t carry it in 2005.
Time Stopped As I Looked Down At My Mother’s Dead Body
I had to face reality. I had to see for myself the woman who I called mom and who gave me life, was now lying in a cold, clinical run-down hospital room covered in a sheet. I told the doctor I needed some time alone with her. Time simply stopped for me.
I was in this small sterile room and had to look at my mother's dead body lying so peacefully like she was sleeping. Her clothing was torn up on her as they ripped her open her shirt to attempt to save her. I was in a state of shock.
I also knew that dying from an overdose doesn’t happen in a second and was filled with anger and hatred for her so called friends who openly admitted that they waited 25 minutes before calling an ambulance. They felt guilty and didn’t know what to do. Had they been good people, the minute they noticed my mother was in trouble, they would have called and potentially saved her life.
I Would Never Hug or Hold My Mom Again
I spent some time looking at her knowing I wouldn’t ever hug her or hold her again. I wouldn’t listen to her drunken angry calls anymore. I would never know the paternity of my father as she took this secret to her grave. I felt her beautiful hair and then felt her skin. It was cold and hard. I was at once pulled back into the hell that was my life.
I was then jerked back to reality. I knew her heart had stopped beating. She was cold and stiff. I said my tearful goodbyes to her and kissed her hard forehead and made my husband take me for a milkshake and immediately threw it all up.
She was gone in an instant. The once chaotic and funny mother I knew was gone from me forever and I knew that the people who she kept company with had a part to play in her death. My stomach ached and my head throbbed knowing my daughter would never grow up to know her nan.
In honor of my mother’s memory, I will work hard as hard as I possible can to ensure this does not happen to other families.
If You Or Someone You Know Needs Help, Please Reach Out
If you or anyone you know has a co-occurring disorder or an addiction or if you are grieving from the loss of your loved one, here are some links to get help. Please remember you are not alone. There is help out there. Together we can work to keep people alive and well.