I lost my gorgeous daughter Cherry Lynn to a heroin overdose 10/14/2011.
My beutiful daughter Cherry Lynn.
My gorgeous daughter Cherry Lynn was a compassionate, generous person who lived every moment to it's fullest. She had empathy for everyone especially children, because she was so hurt as a child by an abusive step-father. When she would talk to children, she would get down on one knee to communicate with them on their level. She listened intently to them and really connected with them no matter what else was going on in the room. She loved her baby brother, James so much, he was 14 years younger than her, and she cared for him all the time. We used to joke around with her because she would go to school with baby spit-up on her shoulder more times than not, from feeding him and burping him in the mornings before school.
Everyone that met Cherry loved her and she kept ALL her friends, ALL her life. She never was petty or held a grudge, even with her abusive step-father who called her out of the blue after not speaking to her for 10 years. I remember she called me and left me a voice-mail (the last one I have from her) saying "Hi mom, this is Cherry, I have something I want to talk to you about so give me a call when you can. I love you. Bye". I called her and she told me that George had called her. I told her I would call and get her cell phone number changed so he wouldn't have her number. She said, "that's OK mom, he sounds lonely and when he called me he was drunk. I feel sorry for him, if he needs someone to talk to it's OK he can call me."
Cherry did not care about material possessions at all, in fact when she was a teenager, she was embarrassed to invite friends over because she thought our house was too big and it was flaunting. She gave everything she ever had away to anyone who needed it. I remember one time she was staying with a friend of hers whose wife had left him and their 4 kids. He was struggling, so Cherry moved in to help out. I took her shopping to buy her some socks, underwear and a few outfits at Wal-mart. Cherry hated shopping because she suffered from PTSD, but she agreed to go and picked out some things. I then drove her back to her friend's place and she threw the Wal-mart bags on the couch and told the two young girls that they could pick anything they wanted from the bag. Their little faces lit up as they selected the items they wanted. They left to go try on their new clothes and Cherry leaned over to me and said, " I hope you don't mind Ma, the girls start school tomorrow and they have no new clothes to wear." Cherry would give you her last cigarette, her last beer, the shirt off her back, her last dollar or anything else you needed. One time while we were out boating on our family boat, my step-son was cold and shivering, Cherry stood up and said, "Derek, here take my sweat shirt!" She then went to pull off her sweatshirt forgetting she had taken off her wet bikini top under. Everyone laughed as I immediately covered her with a towel!
I am not sure when Cherry started using drugs or who taught her how to shoot-up. I guess it doesn't matter now. The first time I became aware of it was in 2001 when she was 21 years old, incarcerated, and became dope sick in jail. I helped her get into a rehab halfway house, helped her get her own little studio apartment at an assisted-living, all women's home, and enrolled her in adult learning classes to complete her GED. She was doing great for about a year and then relapsed. Cherry was in and out of ERs with overdoses, ICUs for endocarditis twice when they told me she would not live, and in and out of jail over the next 10 years, and 9 days before her death she was released from another 3 week stay in jail, and was wanted in another state for a 6 month incarceration. Cherry had long periods of sobriety between incarcerations and relapses. She struggled to stay clean and during her long periods of sobriety, sometimes a year at a time, I would go to NA and AA meetings with her. She was clean and sober for most of 2010 and into the beginning of 2011. During this long period of sobriety, Cherry was able to travel to a huge family reunion in Texas in August 2010 and visit for 2 weeks with everyone. It was a wonderful time for her 3 sisters and brother to get to see her straight and have fun hanging out again. Cherry was engaged and planning to get married. I went to visit her and her new fiance' for Thanksgiving 2010 and she told me, "Ma, this is the first time I am proud to have you come over my house, see where I live and make you a nice dinner." Cherry and her fiance' served shrimp cocktail, cheese and crackers, olives and pickles, an entire turkey dinner, and homemade pumpkin cheesecake for desert. I remember telling my new husband that I was afraid to get to excited about the hope of a new beginning for Cherry, for marriage and maybe grandchildren! I didn't want to get my hopes too high, to end up where I always ended up, shattered.
In January of 2011, Cherry and her fiance' had a huge fight and she ended up in jail again. He threw her out of their apartment and broke up with her. She called me from jail crying and told me she was devastated and didn't want to live anymore. She said life was too hard and she always loses everything she ever gets. My heart was broken too, I had hoped this was it and that she would finally stay clean and make it. I knew she was going to use again as soon as she could get out of jail. She had written so many letters to me from jail over the years that I knew this kind of devastating blow would require her to self-medicate. In her letters she had told me that she decided a long time ago after being hurt so bad by her step-father that she would never care about anyone, or anything again, not even herself, that way no one could hurt her again. She admitted in those letters that she turned to drugs to self-medicate the pain away. While in jail, Cherry would attend church, prayer meetings, AA, she always became a trustee, and she completed her GED.
Cherry was in and out of jail several times in 2011, each time she was released she would use heroin again. In between using heroin she would take suboxen to kick for a while, and then drink way to much beer and smoke pot.
On October 5, 2011 Cherry was released from a 3 week stay in jail. The day she was released, she used heroin with her cousin and her heart stopped. He pulled over to the side of the highway and performed CPR on her until 2 nurses pulled up in a car and continued to perform CPR. The ambulance arrived and transported her to the hospital where they were able to bring her back. I was able to talk to Cherry and tell her how much I love her and how if she died I would not want to be here anymore without her. Cherry said, "Ma, I'm still here, I'm fine, I love you, I'm not going anywhere. I was tempted and was weak and didn't expect that outcome." I was praying and fasting for Cherry every day. I was texting her and calling her to encourage her to be strong. I bought plane tickets and told her I would be there to see her on November 12, 2011. We planned to celebrate Thanksgiving together (her favorite holiday). Cherry died 2 more times and was resuscitated in the 9 days just before her death on October 14, 2011, she swore her friends to secrecy and I found out about those incidents after her death. We didn't get to have our Thanksgiving together. I did get to say everything I wanted to say to her, I did get to tell her how much I love her and how much God loves her.
Over 1,000 people came to her wake. People she went to summer camp with, people she went to elementary school with, people she met skiing, friends from every stage of her life. I told you she kept ALL her friends, ALL her life. Cherry's abusive step-father was there, her biological father was there who I hadn't seen in 28 years, whom she never met after he went to Walpole prison for raping her older sister as a small girl. He ended up apologizing to me and to Cherry's older sister for what he had done 28 years ago and asked for forgiveness. We will never all be friends again or anything, but it meant a lot to my oldest daughter. Even the guy who Cherry was using heroin with when she died came by (of course he was run off by her friends that knew he was there). That is how Cherry was, she opened her heart to everyone, did not hold a grudge, forgave people who hurt her, and brought reconciliation to broken relationships. She was a peacemaker. She was a wonderful person, I wish more people were like her, but with that sensitivity comes hurt and pain that she could not bear without self-medicating. I miss my precious daughter and grieve for the lost hope and dreams of her future life of happiness here, my lost grandchildren, my loss of a great confidant and best friend.
I love you Cherry, rest in peace, I will see you again. Love, Ma