Today is Jill’s birthday. Today she would have been turning 38 years old. It’s still so crazy to even say the words out loud, because it will never seem real. I miss her so much. If there is one thing I am sure about, it is that she is looking down and proud of what we started in her memory. Jill would help out anyone in need, especially if they were struggling.
Seems ironic that this blog is written on her birthday, to acknowledge one of our female scholarship recipients, Kristina, celebrating a year in sobriety. The moment I spoke with Kristina on the phone for the first time, before she headed to detox and onto the Plymouth house, she reminded me of my sister. Her shaky unsure voice telling me “I know. I know I need to do this”. Almost in tears. It was the voice I had heard so many times before... but somehow could never actually help.
I knew we needed to help Kristina.
A year later, Kristina is sponsoring other women, driving them to detox, and not taking a day of her life for granted. Here is Kristinas letter to the sunrise fund.
I’m standing here on a Saturday morning, just put some laundry in, cleaning up the dishes from breakfast. I keep glancing over at my 4 year old daughter, McKenna, working on a puzzle. My eyes fill with tears...it’s been so long. So long since I could do something as simple and “normal” as laundry and feed my daughter without being tortured by my addiction. My years with her and the ten years prior had been consumed with drugs and alcohol and everything that comes with it: my family terrified and broken, lost jobs, overdoses, arrests, treatment facilities, loss of self respect. I was a bystander in my own life, unable to stop the horror show it had become. My sweet McKenna couldn’t save me.
But The Sunrise Fund did. I know that’s a heavy statement…may sound cliché and trite. But had I not been given the opportunity to put the necessary work in this past year, I honestly don’t think my daughter would have a mother anymore. My Mom and Dad wouldn’t have a daughter. My brother wouldn’t have a sister. The Sunrise Fund enabled me to heal and above all, work as hard as I possibly could on my recovery. I was in treatment for almost a year, separated from McKenna. Jackie and Christian had my back and I didn’t understand why…why me? I still ask myself this. But thank you God.
So today…I live in a safe stable apartment, reunited with my daughter. I show up everyday at a job I’ve been employed at for a year. I see my family all the time. They can sleep at night. And best of all, I pay it forward. I help other women find what I’ve found. I lead by example and show them there is a way out of the despair and darkness. We alcoholics and addicts are not doomed, no matter how low we get. I never thought I’d find freedom and I humbly remember each day where I came from.
So Jackie, Christian, the whole Sunrise team…you not only saved my life and gave my daughter her mother, but you are helping many others as I pass along the message of hope. I believe in these women when they don’t believe in themselves because that’s what you taught me.
Forever Grateful. ❤️
Happy Birthday Jill
(pictured: Kristina with daughter and close friends new baby.)