Steve and Cindy
Steve was born in 1957. He is my older and only sibling. We were not very close growing up but grew closer as we got older. He married Cindy in 1985. This is their story.
In the summer of 1977 I decided to go to summer school to get ahead on my 11th grade classes. It was there that I met Kristi. She sat in the desk in front of me. We became fast friends. The first time I went over to her house I met her older sister Cindy. She was attending college and planning her wedding to her high school boyfriend. She had been a very popular cheerleader in high school and her boyfriend had been a star football player. Cindy was outgoing and full of life. She was the type of person who never met a stranger. She was pretty, smart, talented and a joy to be around. I think Kristi and I were both a little in awe of her back in those days. Cindy finished college, married her football player and they moved into a lovely home. I didn't see much of Cindy over the next few years. Kristi and I finished high school and remained close friends.
Sometime soon after the birth of my first child, Kristi and I went out and had a drink with my brother and a friend of his. Kristi shared with us that Cindy was getting a divorce. Steve had just gotten out of a long term relationship himself. Steve and Cindy were the same age so Kristi and I decided to play matchmaker. Within an hour Cindy joined us. She and Steve really hit it off. They were married just a few months later. They were very happy together. They seemed to be made for each other because they were so much alike.
Cindy fit right into the family. Everyone loved her. She would take time out of her day several times a week to go visit my grandparents and help them out when they needed it. She seemed like a Godsend to my grandmother who was going through a difficult time caring for my ailing grandfather. As time went on my grandmother realized that Cindy was stealing my grandfather's pain medication. We were all stunned at the news. We had no idea Cindy had a drug problem. She had hid it so well. Even her husband didn't know. My father had the grim task of telling my brother. It was one of the toughest things Daddy ever had to do but it was even tougher on Steve to have to hear it. Steve confronted Cindy and she admitted that she had been on drugs for a long time. What started out as a young girl taking diet pills to keep weight off, had turned into a dependency on prescription meds. She agreed to get help. Steve stood by her and she made ammends to the family.
Things appeared to be fine over the next couple of years. I gave birth to my second child and Cindy had her first. As time went on Kristi and I became very aware that Cindy had a bad drug problem and Steve seemed to be in denial. Cindy's personality had changed so much that we couldn't stand to be around her. She was paranoid, delusional and would go into fits of rage. At one point she called me on the phone and accused me and my children of mistreating her daughter. Then she said that my mother was a child abuser. She called my parents and accused my father of saying bad things about her mother. My father has always and still does have great respect for Cindy's mother. We knew things were bad. I sat down with my brother and he explained that he had been living with this behavior for awhile. He wanted to get help for her but she didn't think she needed it.
Cindy got pregnant with their second child. She was no longer speaking to any of the family because she still believed us to be abusers. She continued to use drugs throughout her pregnancy. When Stephanie was born Cindy finally hit her bottom. The child was born perfectly normal (Thank God) but Cindy found that she couldn't live with herself for taking such a risk with Stephanie's life. Just days after she had her baby, Cindy entered a month long intensive rehab program.
Cindy faced her demons while in rehab. She was clean for the first time in almost twenty years. We were all so proud of her. She worked very hard and the Cindy we knew and loved from long ago resurfaced. Cindy and I grew very close over the next two years. I loved her as the sister I never had. Then she called me late one night with the news that she had relapsed. She was on the floor of her den and couldn't get up. She wouldn't call for Steve because she was terrified that he would leave her if he found her high. Steve didn't leave her. Instead he got her help.....again. This time Cindy didn't clean up. Instead she went a step further than she had before and began using crack.
It seems like it didn't take very long for Cindy to go crazy this time around. Within a few weeks she was totally irrational. She took her kids and left Steve. She moved in with another man and started divorce preceedings. To this very day I don't know how Cindy managed to get custody of the girls. I do know that it took us two years to get the State to remove them from her home. When they were finally taken from her, they had experienced many horrors. Stephanie was young and doesn't remember any of it but Ashley remembers enough to be scarred from it. Child Protective Services wanted to give Cindy every opportunity and incentive to clean up her act. Cindy didn't want Steve to have the girls because she was afraid she would never get them back. We all agreed that the girls would come live with me until Cindy went through rehab and had six months of clean random drug tests. Cindy never went into rehab.
The girls lived with me for less than a year. When it came apparent that Cindy wasn't going to get it together, I gave the girls to my brother. He has been raising them on his own since 1995. Over the next year Cindy lost everything. She had no place to live and just two grocery bags full of clothes. Everything else had been sold to buy drugs. She lived on the streets or with whoever would take her in. She spent many nights in jail. I guess she finally got to a point where she couldn't take it anymore and she attempted suicide. She was in ICU for several days. The hospital social worker got her a bed in a rehab facility. Cindy phoned each of us to tell us her plans.
On February 1, 1996, Cindy went straight from the hospital to rehab. After she had been there for a couple of hours she asked to be permitted to leave for a short while to get her bags of clothes. They reluctantly let her go. Cindy picked up her clothes from a friends house and then checked herself into a hotel room. She had a couple of friends over and they all got high. According to the two men in the room, Cindy then picked up a gun, put it to her head and pulled the trigger. She died instantly.
None of us have ever really recovered from Cindy's death. I still dream about her quite often. She is always alive in my dreams. I try to touch her but she is always just out of reach. You may wonder why I chose to tell this story. I am telling it because I think its an important story. Drugs kill. They kill our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children and friends. Cindy wasn't a skid row bum. She was a talented, beautiful, well brought up young woman that was very loved by the people around her. She left two beautiful girls behind who are now growing up without a mother. To this very day Steve will not talk about her and he has never remarried. If you or someone you know is on drugs, please get help before its too late. So many people are effected by it and lives are changed forever.