by Lorie VanTilburg
(Cleveland, Ohio)

For the last year of my daughters life I heard myself say to her over and over "I am never gonna give you advice that is going to hurt you, I'm telling you this because I've been through it". The other thing i used to tell her is "do you really want to put your child through what I put you and your sister through?", much less live with the guilt of past mistakes".

What I wanted her to realize was that she grew up with a drug addicted mother(been clean since 1998) and that all the crap she was doing I had already done. And just like me she let a drug take over her life. The only difference between us is my family and friends had never dealt with drug addiction so for me it was easy to lie and get away with it. It wasn't so easy for Victoria cause I knew all the lies all the excuses and all the signs that addicts show.

Victoria was always my baby, even when I was too high to visit or call or even make holidays she still loved her Mom. She was 2 months shy of her 22nd Birthday when she died, it was August 1, 2012, I got the call at 11:55 pm. That was just over a year after she started doing Heroin. When I found the spoon in my house where her and my Grandson slept I told her she had to leave and that he would stay with me until I knew she had a place to live. From that day on I did everything I could to help his father get custody of him. It made me feel like I was turning against my child. But I was not going to let my grandson grow up feeling the way my girls felt. 2 weeks before she died I got a call from a friend who she was staying with that she was on the floor not breathing and turning blue, 911 was on the way while they where trying to give her CPR, her son was on the couch. When I walked into the ER she was sitting up like nothing happened. I hugged her for what felt like forever and then asked her if she was done. Her answer was "I just relapsed", and asked if she could call a guy she liked. I walked out of the room, called her ex-boyfriend and said come pick up his son. I walked outside where my friend where waiting for me, lit a cigarette and asked them to come in with me to help me get through what I was about to do. I talked to her nurse to make sure she was ok and to call me if anything changed, then I walked up to my baby and told her if she wasn't going to get help that I was done. She said she didn't have a problem. So my last words to my child were "When you are ready to get help I will be there 100%, until them I am done" and I walked away hearing my daughter call after me and yell at me. Two weeks later she died of an overdose.

So many things go through my head about that night. I know I did what took my family 3 years to do and that is stand up and say her's your choice stop and get help or your on your own (the old tough love). But my heart says I could have had 2 more weeks with her, what if me walking out made her feel like she had nothing left. My head also says that she isn't struggling with addiction anymore and she is at peace, but my heart is so much stronger and wants her back.

My grandson is doing great, thank God he was only 3yrs old when it happened and he was with his Dad. When he asks me questions about his Mommy it takes everything inside of me to not breakdown in tears, I just smile and tell him how she is always up there watching over us and that she loves us.

Wow, this felt really good to put into words. I am a bit of a mess emotionally but i guess most of us were when we wrote down our stories.

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