Love the life you live.

I miss my daughter. I lost my best friend, my confidant, my source of laughter, my cuddle bunny, my shoulder to cry on, my dance partner, my music partner, my co-worker, my strength. Most of all, I lost my dreams for her.

I am riding a roller coaster ride of emotions. My life has blown up. I am trying to put the pieces together in a new form. There are so many things I wish I could have said or done. I am restless, sleepless. New thoughts come up all the time. I am forever changed. I am just trying to learn a new reality.

Honestly, I am conflicted and don’t know how exactly to feel about my cousin Lexxa’s death. I am trying to accept the fact that I will never see her again, and I am resentful and deeply sad that she choose not to save herself. Because of the stronghold of her addiction, she wasn’t able to make the decision that would have lead her down a much different path.

One lesson I have taken away from her death is not to live in fear, but to realize that you have the power to choose between life and death. The power is frightening, but at least you have a choice. That choice is something to be cherished, and to be taken very seriously. Anyone who struggles with the ability to choose between life and death because of drugs should know that. And I believe that is something my cousin did not.

What I miss most about the time before Lexxa died is the fact that my family wasn’t as broken. The thing I would change if I could, was seeing my family so hurt.

I would take all of that pain away. As a result, though, I know my family is stronger. I know we will look after one another even more.

The hardest part about accepting her death, is accepting the dark confusion that comes with it. There are so many questions. Was she in pain? Did she know what she was doing, or was it an accident? Was there anything that could have changed that night for her? I will have to deal with not knowing the answers to these questions forever. It feels like I will never get used to the uncertainty and that it will never become better. Hopefully, this perspective will change with time.

On the bright side, I remember Lex as someone who was so full of life, so full of love and light that her little body couldn’t contain it all. There always seemed to be an energy bursting out of her pores, so bright and happy, that you couldn’t help but want some. It was contagious. Whenever you were around her, you felt happy too. She genuinely cared about every person she talked to. Everyone was worth her time. That is
something that I try to do each day now, is to make other people feel the way that she made me feel. If there was one thing I could tell her before she died, it would be how overjoyed I am to have someone like her be a part of my life, how her life will not be in vain, and that I love her more than anything.

On May 4th, 2013 my life changed forever. I received the call I was dreading for 2 years. The call from my best friend’s mom telling me that she was dead from a heroin overdose. I was immediately shattered in every way. I was absolutely shaken to my core. Even now, as I write this 9 months later, my hands shake from the shock that still remains. As the heroin gripped Lexxa stronger and as her life became more radical to support her lifestyle, I tried to prepare myself for the reality that I might receive the call. When it came, I realized that nothing could have ever prepared me. Lexxa was only 22 years old and less than 2 weeks away from her 23rd birthday when she died. That is crazy to me. I never really thought that someone so full of life could ever die so young.

Even though Lexxa was only 22 years old, she affected many people. I have never seen such an outpouring of love. It was absolutely amazing to see all the people who were touched by Lexxa’s life and death. She was so bold, so full of life. She literally just talked to everyone. She was always making new friends where ever she went. Her laugh… her laugh was so contagious and is definitely one of the things I miss most. Lexxa always taught me to be bold and spontaneous. She taught me that if you love someone to risk it all. She gave me advice that I couldn’t get from anyone else. She let her heart lead her in life. Staying up late, talking, and laughing are the moments I will miss most.

Watching a best friend struggle with addiction is heartbreaking. I watched her go in and out of rehab five times and still, heroin held a strong grip on her life. I wish our friendship could have gone back to when it didn’t revolve so much around her addiction. I regret the stupid, petty fights that took away time I could have spent with her. I would give anything to have even one of those days back.

I can’t even express how much Lexxa’s death has overwhelmed me. Her death affects me on a daily basis. I have days where it still literally takes my breath away, like it did when I first received the call. The idea of her really being gone leaves me gasping. Her death has left a huge, constant pain in my heart. I miss her dearly and I have days where I need her desperately.

I wish I would have asked her what she thought would happen to her family and friends if she did die. I wish she would have thought of us, but she thought that dying from a heroin overdose would never happen to her because she was “smart” and “careful” about it. I think that is a common thought with addicts, the thought that “Well, that will never happen to me.” I challenge addicts to ask themselves that question, “How would it affect my loved ones if I died tomorrow from my addiction?” To me, that is a key and profound question.

In the end, I cannot change what happened to Lexxa. It breaks my heart, but I hold onto the amazing memories I have and I am blessed to be close with her family and friends. I know we will get through this heartbreak together.

Rest in peace my dearest Lexxa, I miss you so much.

I miss her smile and carefree spirit. I am more emotional now. Sometimes I am more upset, sometimes I don’t care at all. Her being gone leaves a huge void that I hope will pass with time, but fear never will.

We said and did everything we could to try and have her respect her life, herself. I told her countless times she was going to die, I saw her near death numerous times, we sought professional help and rehabilitation, but in the end the drug was just too much to overcome.

I just regret we could not save her.

I only saw my granddaughter once or twice a year. So I missed much of her life. We had great talks when I did see her, but she never shared the pain and fear that she was going through during the last years of her life.  Most of my pain was the pain that her mother was experiencing. It is so hard to watch your child suffer with no relief in sight. Time, I believe, is the only healer. 

I think of her more now than ever as I know that I will never have another chance to hug and love her again, to hear her laughter, to see her brilliant, one of a kind smile, and to see her dance as only she could.  Looking back, I should have talked to her more and given her what comfort and support she needed to help her through her dark times. That is, if she would have been open to it. It was as if she knew that she wasn’t going to be here in the present moment very long. She lived her life to the fullest until she left us. 

Haiku:  A meteor streaking; Brilliant and golden; Gone too soon. 

A day doesn’t pass when thoughts of Lexxa don’t enter my mind. Sometimes, I am overwhelmed with sorrow. It causes great pain to think that Lexxa wasn’t able to believe in the value of her life. Other days, I search for peace. I think about questions that have no simple answer, if an answer at all. On a rare occasion, I miraculously see a manifestation of her spirit and I feel joy. No matter the thought or feeling, I am grateful for each one. It keeps her close.

What Lexxa’s death has impressed upon me is the importance of relationships. Heal damaged relationships, nurture healthy relationships, and create new relationships. Reach out to people you love and listen to their stories. Human stories never grow tired. They are what connect us, so share disappointments, dreams, and most of all love.

Lexxa would want that. She would want us all to share our love.

Aunt Kristin (Kisso)