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I held a mother while she cried about her son. He was deep in the disease of addiction and she was at rock bottom. She was scared and tired and filled with confusion and hate and love. Her greatest fear was that he would die from the disease. My words to her were “As long as he is breathing, there is hope.”.

And I firmly believed that. I know people with substance use disorder who have long term recovery. They live amazing lives. I hear it every day that as long as there is breath in the body there is hope for recovery.

And then my daughter died. Before she died, she fought valiantly against her demons. Before she died, she found love and support and community. Before she died, she had hope despite her fear. Hope for the future, hope for her son, hope for herself. Even as she died, she hadn’t given up hope. She was on her way back to rehab.

So, where does that leave me and my words of wisdom to that mother who was on the rollercoaster of addiction and was terrified to get off but too tired to stay on? How can I possibly have any hope after surviving the most awful loss a parent can suffer? I’m not positive

I have the answer. But I know I still have hope.

For today, I believe hope is a necessary part of life. To lose hope is to take a path that inevitably leads to the end of life. Perhaps not death, but not a life worthy of living. Some days are worse than others and no day is without pain. But I have hope that time will bring perspective, softness and comfort. I have hope that I will continue to feel my daughter’s spirit close by. That she will watch over her son as he grows.

When I was young my hopes included having a career I loved, a home, a family. And I achieved those things. My hopes were fulfilled. And new hopes took root in my heart. Hopes and dreams for my children, for myself. And those hopes were dashed because of the disease of addiction. So, I find myself reworking my definition of hope. And days when I would rather just give up, I remember that I am the one with breath in my body and I have a purpose. To share my story, to say my daughter’s name, to raise my children and her son and to lead by example.

I named my daughter Saige because I wanted her to have wisdom. And she did. She was wise beyond her years. My middle daughter is named Hope and she embodies the spirit of her name. My youngest is now Maxwell and he is a “great spring” of love and acceptance. Our little Julian Thyme has all of his Mama’s wisdom and strength and therein lies the hope for a new generation who will know the pain of loss but will also know the hope that comes with every new day.

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