Letters to My Nieces

What If Today Was the Last Day?

I’ve been sitting and thinking about this post for a while.

Do I write it? Do I post it? Do I share it? Does it even matter?

Then I thought, what if today was the last day?

The last day she decided that opioids were her answer and she quit for good or the last day she might be alive.

What would I do? What could I say?

My mom, her grandma, was taken suddenly from us and I fear the same for her.

What is or until the moment I hit publish was a private struggle for my family, but a very public epidemic, is that my oldest niece, my Stinker, Riley, confessed she had an opioid addiction.

Fentanyl. The same drug that killed Prince.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times stronger than heroin.

Read that line again: FIFTY TIMES STRONGER THAN HEROIN.

You think not my mother, father, sister, brother, relative or friend.

Especially, me.

Not my Riley, my RiRi, my Stinker, my niece.

I didn’t know how to process this confession. This fact. This truth.

Her truth.

To be honest, I still don’t know how to process it.

I go from fear, to tears, to anger, to hatred and then emptiness and nothing.

Was she loved too much? Was she believed in too much?

I know she was never unloved or not believed in by me. If she said she could fly to the moon on her own, I believed in her ability to fly to the moon. Because she of all people in the world would do so.

She arrived in this Universe a fighter. Premature but with the sheer will and desire to say “fuck you Universe, I got this. You can’t stop me Mother Fucker“.

She’s been that way her whole life. I’ve watched her from crib to the woman she is now, watched her blossom into this human that wows me.

Last week, I woke up in tears. I had a dream she had died. Overdosed.

So I wrote her this, because it could have been the very last note she read from me and I needed her to know. She had to know that she is loved…if that day, today, or any other day was the last day…

Goofing off with Riley in Asheville, NC (Oct 2012)

I woke up from a dream you had died from an overdose.
All I could do was lay in bed and cry because that is a REAL FACT I could face with the next phone call or message from Pawpaw or your mama.
I can’t make you stop using.
That’s your choice.
That’s your power to choose.
To choose you.
But know your choices have real affects on the people that love you and your choices if wrong, could kill you and take you away from us.
My sky, your mom’s, your dads, Taylor’s, and Pawpaw’s sky would darken so much without you.
And if there’s ever that slight chance that THIS COULD BE MY LAST MESSAGE YOU EVER READ because you made a choice that killed you.
Know this:
I wish you had never taken a drug or started smoking. I know you did it because it was easy to say yes versus no. I hate that it held on tighter to you than you held on to the love and beauty inside of you. Whether he did or not, I blame Travis for this and will never forgive him for ruining you. Will never forgive him for not believing in you. Will never forgive him for not being a man.
I believe in you and know the greatness you are and the greatness you hold. I know my belief in you isn’t strong enough to make you see that in the mirror looking back at you. And if there is a chance this could be the last time you ever read anything from me, I hope you have a moment of clarity and know I love you so much Stinker. You are my star. And I will greatly miss you should you die. There will be a hole in my heart and life that will never be filled with anything other than a great sadness of loss. Loss of your spirit, your fierceness and lust for life. I love you Riley Shae. I love you so much.

It’s been 3 weeks since she confessed to my sister her addiction and it’s been 2 weeks since I’ve known.

I don’t know what to do, what to say, or anything. I can send all the positive messages, listen, and so on but the reality is, it’s not up to me, her mom, her dad, her sister, or her grandparents.

It’s up to Riley.

It’s her choice.

Fight and survive.

Use and die.

Seems like it would be an easy choice doesn’t it.

And if she died today, my last message to her included, “go get the help you deserve”.

It sits unread. It could very well stay unread.

She could be upset with me for suggesting that she step away from her boyfriend while she is sobering up and for calling him a parasite that could drag her to her death.

I won’t apologise for the suggestion or calling him a parasite. I will not mince my words when it comes to Riley. I never have and she knows that. She’s only received the truth from me and my true feelings on anything we have ever talked about.

It could stay unread because today could have been her last day.

And that shatters me. Not that I questioned a motive in Travis, not that she defended him, not that I called him a parasite.

It shatters me because if today was her last day, she didn’t defend herself. She didn’t fight for herself. She didn’t believe in herself. It shatters me because she didn’t choose to live and she didn’t choose herself.

If today is her last day, I want it to be the last day of using and I want it to be the first day she fought for herself, defended herself, believed in herself, chose to live and chose to fight.

I want her to be so selfish in choosing her shining star to shine bright in this Universe. I hope today is the day that becomes the first day of the rest of her amazing life.

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