The Red Head

Today she is forty-eight and dying in an ICU from congestive heart failure brought on by years of drug abuse.  Alicia* is her name.  Whenever I think of her, I remember her mostly as the bubbly middle school girl she was.  Red hair, bluish brown eyes, freckles, tall, talkative and full of laughter.  Alicia was very smart and she ran track.  Track is the key word here because this girl was on track to become whoever she wanted to be. 

Sadly, Alicia went off track when she was sixteen years old.  It was the early 1980s and drugs in school were very present.  Alicia not only got involved with the wrong crowd and wrong substances, but her entire personality went through a huge transformation.  She was missing for days.  No one knew where she was.  Her parents, who have been long time friends of ours, found out that she’d been missing lots of school prior to her disappearance.  Everyone was very worried.  She was finally found in another state, about 150 miles away, safe but forever changed.  Alicia had gotten caught up in drug use and had run away with a boy who also used.

I remember how relieved we felt when she came home and entered a twenty-eight day treatment center.  She would get help and return to the same old Alicia she was, we’d thought.  But we were conned. And we would be conned again.  Many times she seemed to be headed in the right direction only to go back to using.  When she used, she was neglectful, conniving, thieving, and broke the hearts of those who loved her so much.

There were three children Alicia gave birth to and to whom her parents first took custody of when they were one, two and four years old.  It was sad to see these abandoned children shy and afraid when they first met us.  Their father was not in any shape to raise them and as for Alicia?  She was missing again, rumored to be existing on the streets in Vegas, not wanting help and apparently not caring about her children.  This would not have been the Molly Ringwold look-alike from ten years ago.  At thirteen, that Alicia had it all together as opposed to this twenty three year old.

Alicia came back again and seemed to thrive for awhile.  We all went camping together one year and there were glimpses of her old self.  But as the new millennium arrived, Alicia left once more in a big way.  She embezzled between 50 to 100,000 dollars from her employer and she stole her parents’ credit cards.  Her new husband had been abusive to the children, and Alicia wasn’t standing up for them or being present in their lives anymore.  As she went to jail, her parents once again assumed responsibility for the kids.  As expected, the kids all had battles of their own to face due to being abandoned yet again and having spent time being verbally and sometimes physically harmed.  It was not a good scene.  My friends weren’t prepared for it as the kids got older and the youngest boy got in trouble with school and eventually drugs, alcohol and police. 

The last few years, Alicia has been hospitalized many times from complications of the congestive heart failure.  Yet she continued to abuse drugs, meth in particular so I was told.  She has rallied more than once and in fact only a few months ago pulled through when it was almost certain she would not.

How sad that a life filled with such promise derailed so many years ago.  Alicia has had a lot of fight left in her, but not the right kind.  She’s never been able to free herself from the hardened grasp of addiction.  Her personality was changed too.  I know her parents must be heartbroken to have been estranged from her for so many years when Alicia was indeed estranged from her own self.  She could have been so many things to so many people. 

And now the time has come to say goodbye and to hope that whatever awaits her in the afterlife means freedom from all the ills that plagued her in this one.  I hope that sweet spirit from the early 80’s rises again and reclaims itself.  I pray for no suffering and a peaceful passing, and I know her parents love her no matter how disappointed they were.  I hope her children can forgive her, because who she ended up as was not who she was meant to be.  Drugs messed everything up and then some. 

*name changed

About andreamarjulie

Just trying to navigate a life circumvented by chronic migraines. Sometimes I write about managing with those, but at other times I am prone to deviate a bit.
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