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Rachel's Story

Rachel was born on Labor Day, September 1, 1974. She was our third and last child, our only girl, my best friend and most definitely " daddy's girl."

A beautiful and happy baby, Rachel was the apple of our eye. Her brothers loved to entertain her and she exhibited an independence even when she was that young. Our friends used to say that when she looked them in the eyes, they felt like she could read their soul.

Rachel grew up like most little girls. She loved school and obtained very good grades. She loved to read, took dancing lessons, played JV softball and finally graduated high school salutatorian of her class in 1992. We had moved to Block Island, RI when she was in her junior year. Rachel seemed to love the lifestyle and made many friends. However, she had started to drink at parties and that summer she appeared to have a real problem. She began going to AA and made a real effort to stop.

She went on to Boston University that fall, continuing with her AA throughout her freshman year. She also made the dean's list those 2 semesters, with a 3.98 GPA. When she came home for Thanksgiving, I noticed she had a "pierced tongue" and although we were disgusted with it, we didn't order her to take it out. She went back to school and seemed to continue to do well. That summer she worked on the island and entered her sophomore year at Boston University. When she came home after the second year, she said she needed some time off and was "burnt out." -- She never went back.

She traveled to New Orleans, St. John USVI, Portugal and Spain for the next few years, working on the island in the summer and traveling in the winter. She started drinking again in 1995 and between 1995 and 1997; she was in and out of rehab four times. In 1997 she began to use heroin. We attributed this to the "friends" she associated with that introduced her to the drug. We begged her to get help. Rachel was a very "functional" addict. But, she was breaking our hearts. We didn't know what to do to help her because she didn't want any help. In the fall of 1998, and a few tattoos later, Rachel turned herself in and went to a detox unit. When she was discharged 10 days later, she did NOT want to go to a rehab. She insisted that she did not have to. "I'm through with it...don't worry," she would say.

Then, in late 2001 Rachel was stopped on the highway. The officer found 40 bags of heroin and one syringe. She went to court and was put on probation. She checked in weekly and gave a urine sample. In early 2002 Rachel was stopped again for having expired registration stickers, and heroin was found in her car again. She had violated probation and was sent to the ACI to await a hearing. We practiced "tough love" and let her sit in prison, hoping it would make her hit bottom. It was the hardest thing we ever did. Rachel would call and cry for us to come and get her out...she would beg me. We held strong, but a friend of hers bailed her out and when she had another hearing date set, she never showed up. She was now on the run. She was now a wanted felon.

And so she continued running until she couldn't run anymore. In August of 2003 she called to say she wanted to come home and get some treatment. She missed her "mommy"...I missed her too. We were so relieved that there seemed to be an end to her misery in sight.

She was in Atlanta, spending her 29th birthday with her oldest brother and his wife. They gave her a little party with a cake and sang "happy birthday" to her. We called and talked about her coming home in two days. The plan was that she would take a bus to Port Authority in New York City and from there go to Grand Central Station and take a train to Wetsport, Conn. to her Auntie Marcia's (a recovered alcoholic of 15 years). She was to stay with Marcia overnight and Daddy would pick her up the next morning.

She called Auntie Marcia at 11:00 a.m. on Sept.4 to say she had arrived at Port Authority. She said some guy kept telling her she had "an aura." Marcia said, "stay away from him." Rachel said she was on her way to Grand Central and should see her before 5 p.m. She seemed happy and upbeat.

Rachel never showed up. Marcia and I spoke repeatedly that night, worried about Rachel, thinking up all kinds of excuses of where she might be. I thought she probably got cold feet and high-tailed it back to Atlanta. But why hadn't she called me? The next morning, Marcia and I entered a "missing persons " report in New York City, where she was last seen.

Every day that went by, we worried more and more. Why hadn't she called me? She always called me! I had a cold feeling in the pit of my stomach that was telling me something was wrong until I got that worst phone call of my life on the night of September 27, 2003. It was a detective in the missing persons department at the 9th precinct in NY City. They've had a Jane Doe at the Bellevue Morgue since Sept. 5th and even though she didn't have any ID on her, a piece of paper in her pocket had finally led to me. Their Jane Doe also had tattoos. Could I describe my daughters? They matched. Our little girl, whom we loved with all our heart and soul, was gone. She was found in a bathroom of a nightclub in Greenwich Village at 1 a.m. on the morning of Sept. 5th. dead from a cocaine overdose 4 days after her 29th birthday.

I'm so sorry that the last 10 years were a constant struggle for her. I wish I knew that she was unhappy. I wish I knew she was looking for something else in her life. I ask myself the question of "what was the turning point in her life that made her make those wrong choices?" Why? Why?

If I could have done anything different when I raised our daughter, I would have asked more questions of where she was going and what she was doing. Just because a child is intelligent and seemingly well adjusted, doesn't mean that they are going to make all the right decisions in their life. They still need the guidance and persistence of their parents to make sure they do the right thing -- at least as long as they live in your house. Our two sons are on the right path in their lives -- they don't smoke or drink -- are married and happy. We brought all our children up with the same values and love. So, perhaps, fate is unstoppable. Perhaps Rachel's life was 29 years, and I am grateful that we had her that long.

Our lives will never be the same. We will always have an ache in our heart for Rachel and miss her so much, it's almost unbearable. We will see her again in another life and in the meantime, we talk to her and think of her every day.

She is at peace now, finally.

I love you honey,
Mommy  - E.T.

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