Just as the phoenix rose from the ashes, she too will rise. Returning from the flames, clothed in nothing but her strength, more beautiful than ever before.
Sabrina came into my world on September 28, 1994. Throughout Sabrina's young childhood she filled this family's life with such joy. She was ridiculously cute, fun and mischievous. Her cousins were her best friends even though she often led them to a little harmless trouble. Her sister, Kyla was not only a sister but her truest and most loyal friend. Their bond was unbreakable. Jimmy and Tommy, her brothers, were her heart. She was so proud to have them. Her family was her greatest love and she has left us with a lifetime of funny stories to share.
As Sabrina grew into her teen years, she struggled emotionally. A child so full of life could not find her own internal happiness. She struggled to make and keep friends. This beautiful girl overflowed with love for her family, but for some reason, she could not feel all the love everyone had for her. Sad and lonely while surrounded by cherished family. So my daughter began to self-medicate to feel better. Starting out like so many other stories, using alcohol & marijuana. Over time, she would be introduced to harder drugs by the people she surrounded herself with. We went through several schools, counselors, psychologists, and programs to try to help her. Nothing seemed to work. She struggled academically and socially in school. Sabrina eventually dropped out of high school. She was working on and off and we continued to work together as a family to support her. She began spending a lot of time with people that we didn’t know. We were catching her in lies but truth be told, we believed her made up stories as to where she had been and what she was up to. We had no idea what we were dealing with.
In the summer of 2014, Sabrina and I going for mani pedis before the wedding. I commented to her about the marks on her feet. She told me it was poison ivy. I believed her. A few weeks later I got a call from her while out of the country. She was in the hospital. She went on to tell me that she had been there for three days. That she developed an abscess in her arm. I asked her how that could have happened. She told me it was from an allergic reaction to Tide detergent. I wanted to believe that, but I knew that something was wrong. I called my mom and my sisters and asked them to go to the hospital, I was on my way home. As I was sitting on the bus back to economy parking in Boston, I got a call from my mother. Sabrina admitted to her that the abscess was from shooting up heroin. I cried out loud on that bus. How did this happen?
The next 24 hours were the most difficult. It was like she was a different person. All she cared about was getting back to the boy she was using with. It was like she was possessed. She again and again refused treatment. So I provided her an ultimatum. "Take this opportunity to get well and we will support you fully or if you will not accept treatment, you say goodbye to Kyla, Jimmy, and Tommy. They would not be part of your life if she continued to use drugs. Thank God, my girl was still in there. From deep inside she rose up and agreed to get help. She was discharged from the hospital and on a plane to Palm Desert, California.
Sabrina spent 45 days in a rehabilitation facility. During this time, she had the opportunity to learn about her disease and also get help from a psychiatrist. But 45 days was not enough time to face the traumas of the past or rebuild a fulfilling life. So when she finished, she made a very hard decision. She was going to stay in California and work on herself.
Sabrina entered into a structured sober living program, as well as an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). During her time there, she attended daily AA and NA meetings. She had daily sessions with counselors and groups. She was given a safe environment to confront her past. She was educated in the disease of addiction and she found peace through the 12 step program. She found employment and learned to support herself. She left Palm Desert Recovery with a solid program and a community of sober support.
Sabrina moved into her own place in the desert. She obtained her GED. We were all so proud of her. She continued her education and received her esthetician's license. At which point, she rented a small space in an area office building to start her new business. Life was really going well for her. Unfortunately, the busy life of a new business, a home, her dogs and a relationship left her very little time for recovery meetings. She spent less and less time with her sobriety support people and more time with new friends she made during school, working, and an increasingly unhealthy relationship.
Things in Sabrina's personal life took a turn for the worse. The relationship that she thought was her future ended. It was a blow she was not prepared to handle. She packed her bags and headed home to Boston. Everyone was thrilled. Her family had missed her so much. At first having her back home was wonderful. She was helpful and happy. Sabrina went out to California as a child and was back here as an adult. She got a job waitressing while she worked to transfer her esthetician's license to MA. Sabrina moved home and we were helping her get back on her feet. She talked about going to meetings and gave excuses of why she didn't. But she seemed good, we didn't push it very hard. She had always been a kind person. She spent a lot of her time helping friends that were trying to get clean, giving rides to people with no transportation, just being there for those in need. Through all the ups and downs she never stopped being that angel for others. But at the same time, the lies were starting again and I was blinded. The downward spiral had already begun but I could not see it.
Until the day... Mark and I were having lunch when Kyla called. She said that Jimmy and her were trying to wake Sabrina up and she was not responding. I raced to the house and called 911. Two shots of Narcan later, we were in an ambulance on our way to the hospital. That overdose did permanent damage to not only her memory but her soul. She lost her faith in recovery. Addiction had found it's way back inside. We desperately tried tough love to break, what felt like, a curse. If she hit her rock bottom, I would be there to pick up the pieces. But she always seemed to hover right above it. She spent Christmas alone in a hotel room and shortly after she was out of options for places to crash. So she entered a treatment facility. She left treatment without a program or a community. She experienced highs and lows after that point. Back to the loneliness and isolation while her family suffered powerless against a disease that was stealing her again. She had reverted back to surrounding herself with people who use drugs and using herself. She became much better at hiding it from everyone who loved her. But her choices had her on borrowed time. On February 13, 2020, my daughter died at the age of 25 of a fentanyl overdose. She was alone in the room she rented from a friend.
I would give anything in the world for this story to have a different ending. Her infectious smile can never be replaced. I will never see her get married and I will never see her become a mom. But there is something I can do. I can share her story. I can remind others of this important message… your recovery MUST come first. It must come before family, career, love, everything. This disease is patient. You cannot give it an opportunity to thrive during a moment of weakness. A solid foundation of recovery does work. It is a lifelong commitment to a program and community. Sabrina spent 4 years creating a beautiful life. That time is one of my most cherished memories with her. I will honor her memory by being of service to others like she did. Rise Again: The Sabrina Best Foundation will support women as they take back their lives from this disease and create a beautiful story of life.