Narcan Works – We ARE The Evidence
She gleams with pride as she points me to the first picture in a frame on the mantle, as I am invited along on a journey of Jennifer’s life. In the picture stands an adorable little girl, wrapped in a frilly pink tutu, grinning wildly for the camera. The next picture frame holds a beautiful high school student, with the same beautiful smile, and dark brown hair framing her face.
Her eyes light up while she talks about cheer-leading and family camping trips. We laugh together as she reminisces about the antics of a six year old Jennifer; the games of hide and seek, that time she tried to build a fort in the back yard and a huge gust of wind blew all their blankets all over the neighborhood. She recalls making videos of Jennifer dancing and singing for the family, and how she used to pirouette around the house all the time.
She wants to tell me everything about her little girl, and I want to hear it.
She needs me to understand the amount of love, laughter, and incredible energy and light Jennifer brought to her life, and the lives of others.
Moments later, the tone of our conversation changes. Suddenly, I can see the pain etched in every line of her face. Her eyes darken, and I can feel the energy in the room shift.
This is where Jennifer’s story transitions from “before” to “after.”
“I just didn’t know! How was I supposed to know?” Her face and body crumple before me, and I don’t dare interrupt. She needs me to understand who her daughter was before all of this – how beautiful and vibrant her little girl was. She needs to share this part, too.
“You don’t understand – I did it all right!” She lists all the sports Jennifer played, the activities and clubs she was involved with, the homework help, the family dinners and vacations they enjoyed. All of it. She makes sure I know how much love and attention she always provided Jennifer, and how close they used to be. She explains these things to me like I might be blaming her, or thinking she played a part. I’m not. I know better.
And then she breaks. The tears flow freely; pouring down into her clasped hands. She goes back in her mind to that night.
“We thought she was sleeping. We could hear her snoring. I peered into her room, just a crack. I’m a mom, and that’s what we do. Jennifer was slumped against the wall and her bed. I knew something wasn’t right. I ran and shook her.
As her hair fell from her face, I knew. The terror of that moment will stay with me forever. I screamed for my husband to call 911, as I desperately tried to shake my daughter back to life. Her lips were blue. How will I ever get that vision out of my head?
They came to take my baby away. They knew it was too late, but I couldn’t believe that. She was only seventeen! She was MY daughter – my beautiful, vibrant little girl!!
I couldn’t wrap my head around “gone,” and some days I still can’t. Some days I expect her to come bouncing through the front door… and then it hits me.
Jennifer’s gone. And my heart breaks into a million different pieces all over again.”
We talk for a long time. She tells me about the pink lining in Jennifer’s casket, how she buried her little girl in her favorite shirt, and the line that stretched around the block as her daughter’s friends and family lined up to say goodbye.
“I didn’t know about Narcan.” Those words ring in my ears as I leave, overwhelmed with sadness. Jennifer’s story is not unlike hundreds I have heard before, but each holds a special place in my heart. I walk away feeling like we failed her – failed to educate her about the signs or what to look for; about the tools and resources that could have saved her daughter’s life during the worst opioid epidemic in history.
Jennifer’s mom has become an advocate for Narcan, and she now spreads opioid awareness so that others might be saved, but the price she paid for this opportunity was far too great.
For Jennifer’s family it is too late, but it doesn’t have to be for others. Is it a guarantee that she would be alive today if her parents had known about Narcan? No, but it is possible. The education and medication might have given her a chance. It is possible that if Jennifer’s mother had been given information about overdose and Narcan, this tragedy could have been prevented.
All across the country there are people in positions of influence trying to block measures to bystander access to Narcan. In many states, this life saving medication is only available to doctors and medical personnel.
This has to change.
Overdose has become the leading cause of accidental death in the US, and there’s something we can do about it. Family and loved ones need access to information AND this medication.
Because Narcan works.
The evidence is in the faces of all the people who are still here because a family member or friend had Nasal Narcan and knew how to use it. We know it is not the “silver bullet” of preventing overdoses, but it is a tool – a tool that can give someone another chance at life – a chance for recovery.
This project was created to bring faces and voices together, to humanize the issue of overdose, and to show what people can do with their lives when they are given another chance. But change doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it takes an army of people striving to better the world and their community, and it takes money.
We need your help. Please join this fight, make a donation, and/or help us spread the word that there is hope. Please share this post or the link to the fundraiser.
Struggling addicts like Jennifer, are not just somebody else’s children. They are our brothers and sisters, our friends and co-workers. They are not just nameless faces. They are not hopeless junkies. They are people just like you, who are loved and adored, and struggling.
This post was submitted by Amy Monks.
Sober Mommies was founded in May of 2013 to support the process of recovering moms and reach out to those that may be considering sobriety. Everyone is welcomed to join us, share, and connect!