When Alyssa was 17, I woke up for work after hitting the snooze button a few times. I always need time to wake up. As most mothers do, I went to my daughter’s room to check on her before I got in the shower. Her door was locked. She knew she was not supposed to lock her door. I knocked, called for her and knocked some more, but there was no answer. I got the key, and when I opened the door, she was lying on her back looking gray.
I screamed, called 911 and started CPR. I kept doing CPR with no response. When the paramedics came, they took her lifeless body, placed an oxygen bag over her mouth and ran her downstairs to the ambulance. The police kept me at the house and asked me questions. They searched her room. All I wanted to do was go to the hospital, but they kept me home for about 30 minutes. It felt like a lifetime. After searching her room, it was determined that she had done heroin. My heart dropped. As soon as they were done questioning me, I got in the car and drove to the hospital.
When I got there, she was filled with tubes, and her body was covered with an air-filled blanket to warm her. Her body temperature was so low, they were filling her veins with heated liquids. They said her kidneys were failing and asked if I wanted the hospital chaplain to visit. My head was spinning. The nurse told me to talk to her. There were so many tubes. I moved them aside, and I talked into her ear. I told her I love her, and I asked her not to leave. She was moved to a room in the ICU. The doctor told me, “Five more minutes and she wouldn’t be here.” I just kept thinking about the snooze button and five-minute intervals. What if I had hit it one more time?
She made it. She was in the hospital for a week. She had some damage to her heart valve and a droopy eye and had to learn to walk again. From the hospital she went to a psychiatric hospital for a week. From there she went to a residential rehab facility for 60 days. When she came out, she attended support group meetings four times a week. I went with her. As time went on, she wanted her independence as any 17-year-old would. She got a full-time job, got her license and bought a car.
A year and a half later, she came home from work the day after Christmas. She wanted to know if she could go to Jack’s house. Jack was a former boyfriend of hers, and he was a good kid so I said sure. At 11:30 that evening, she sent me a text saying she would be home in the morning. The next morning she was not home. I texted her from work and got no response. I went home at lunchtime, and she wasn’t there. I called her, but there was still no response. This went on all day.
Jack’s father didn’t know Jack and Alyssa were at his house, as Jack’s bedroom was in the basement, and he had snuck Alyssa in. His father thought he had gone to work and was also texting him all day with no response. When he got home from work, he took the door off Jack’s bedroom, and he found them both there, deceased. Jack had his arm around Alyssa.
At this point I still didn’t know what was going on. When I got home from my second job that evening, I had a business card taped to my door from the sheriff’s department. It had a detective’s name and a note asking me to call. I did, and I asked if this was about Alyssa. They came to the house and told me that Alyssa and Jack had passed away together. I was numb, but while I was planning Alyssa’s funeral, I decided her death would not be in vain. I started a Facebook page, and I have spoken to politicians, delegates, the governor and mayor. I have held rallies, and I speak to kids in drug programs. I am involved in a nonprofit that helps kids get into rehab.
I hope this story helps.