Donna is one of my same aged cousins.
She is the one on the right.
We spent many, many, many, MANY hours together as
children, then teenagers, then adults.
And every single one of them was a good memory.
I am 43.....Donna is 3 years younger.
And we have never had an argument.
I'm sure there were cross words, but a real fight? Never.
I love her and she loves me.
I honestly have very few childhood memories that she isn't in.
(Donna on her wedding day. Happiest I have ever seen her.)
Donna is loved. She is loved by so many people.
But Donna's life wasn't perfect.
Donna fought addiction.
She fought hard for a little over 20 years.
It was heartbreaking to watch her.
We hated it for her. We hated it so much.
Sometimes I would lose patience with her and try not to care.
But then, when I saw her, I always cared.
Everyone cared. EVERYONE loved Donna.
Donna lost her fight with addiction last week.
And even though I know she is free now and happy, I am still paralyzed with grief.
I should have done more.
I could have done more and I didn't.
I know, it was her decision....but I could at least been there more.
Tried harder to not be judgmental, even though I could never understand it.
It makes me sick that I wasn't, that I didn't.
Because I love her.
I love her so much.
I hope she knows how much.
So, to everyone out there reading this.
Please know something...
When you see, or pass, or hear about someone who is fighting addiction.
Please know that they are a real person.
With a family who knows them, who loves them.
Know that they have friends and cousins and teachers and team mates, somewhere.
And they are all rooting for them.
They aren't just a worthless person who has chosen to throw their life away.
They are SOMEONE. They are real. They are loved.
Please know that and when you see them, be kind.
Just be kind and treat them well.
Please just be kind to them.
I have loved you since the day you were born.
I will love you until the end of time.
I'm so sorry I wasn't there for you.
Please forgive me.