I've experienced a lot of things since October 31, 2013. Throughout my life I have worn many hats....mother, wife, Christian, Catholic, baker, donut fryer, factory worker, store clerk, owned a lawn service and worked for my son in his laundromat for thirteen long years.
Sobriety had finally arrived. Did I go to it willingly? Shit no. It came to me directly from God. He allowed me to live, He allowed Jake to be #TAKEN....so that I could arrive at the place that I landed at on that far off October day. If losing Jake didn't kill me....nothing ever would.
I howled in rage....anger drove me to do things I had never known I was capable of. I hated with gusto.....#LukeDuel, #HollyMasters, #NicholeHall ....I hated one and all. I still do. I was mad at God, I left my beloved church....all these things were fuel that drove me from that day to this.
Somehow in all that I maintained sobriety. I believe it was because God wanted me for a very difficult job. A job I would have run in the opposite direction from had I not been sober. That job was to take the fear, hopelessness, anger and pshycotic rage inside me and use it to help other parents of #TAKEN children. To stop everything in my day and take a call from a parent....and listen. To gently suggest, write articles, guide, and unite us. To offer hope....in some manner....where there was none before. My concept was based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous....that if parents were given the opportunity to tell their story...without anyone judging them...with encouragement and an occasional hug...we could make it thru to the day our #TAKEN children will find us.
Addiction is an ugly thing. It's sneaky. It will grab you without your even knowing it. Every single addict in the world is ashamed of something they did while high.
Unfortunately, children are often entangled in the parents addiction. That's how it came to be for Daniella Pride. She was addicted. She lost her children behind her addiction. Forever. Taken away by a family court judge.....any little thread of hope for sobriety flew away on the day of "The Goodbye Visit". She used. And it took her straight to jail. Several times.
I know....I know...."She deserved it because she couldn't stay clean". I've heard it over and over as the people who were complicit in the removal of her children, try to justify their actions to me.
I do not care what she did....NOTHING she did warranted NEVER seeing her children again.
I met Danielle here on Facebook.....and I listened. The first time we talked, I told her(as I do every parent).....you are not alone, there are thousands of us. And she cried....sobbing into the phone....and I listened. We had a little come to Jesus meeting about the dope...about sobriety....about being alive on their 18th birthdays so she could resume their lives together. She told me that that was too long a time, that she couldn't live one day without them.
I would hear from her and when I didn't I didn't lecture or fuss. She would get a hold of me in a few days or a week and if she went to jail someone would let me know and I'd send her a postcard. And so it went.
In retrospect I should have done more but I also know that you can't drag an addict to sobriety....they have to arrive on their own.
As the days pass...I still have many questions of myself: what should I have done differently. As a fellow addict....was I too complacent? Did the adoption photo of her children sever her desire to live?
She may have overdosed as a way out of the pain or she may have been clean. Did her heart shut down because her mind could not take anymore? I'm sure we will get a medical opinion soon.
None of that matters because it will not bring her back. Nothing will ever see those startlingly blue eyes ever again.
She may have been an addict. She may have done things wrong. She may not been able to help herself. But I do know two things. She did try to help other addicts and parents by sharing her experience, strength and hope.....and she loved her children. Of that there is no doubt.
She touched my heart and the hearts of countless others. She had value to us....the families of #TAKEN children. Our lives are better for having known her.
I believe in and will continue to fight for the families of #TAKEN children. I believe more than ever, that our strength is in unity....and the ability to take a moment to listen...to reach out. I also believe that this could have been handled differently by the court and CPS in #Michigan. Parents are dying. That has got to change.
....and I shall remember a pretty young woman....well kept....with pretty blue eyes...full of tears....that loved her children....and didn't have to die....from a broken heart.