My daughter passed away one week ago today. I was going to try to describe her – her beauty, her passion, her kindness, her empathy and intelligence, the way her heart bled for people and her desire to help ease their pain. I gave up. There are no words that are meaningful enough to paint the picture that would capture her essence, to show you her soul the way I saw it.
I was going to try to explain the magic of a child who defied death repeatedly. Who survived a premature birth, jaundice, pneumonia, drowning, and 16 skull fractures with a brain bleed. But what it really comes down to is what she didn’t survive. That is why we’re here after all.
Heroin may have been the cause of her death, but drug addiction is not what killed her. Alyx did not survive the depression. She did not survive anxiety. She did not survive the insecurity and shame and low self-esteem that had plagued her since she was a small child. She smiled and she was brave and she was strong and she was terrified. She felt alone. She felt she didn’t deserve the love of her friends and family. She felt she was never good enough – and nothing we did could reach through the wall of illness that locked her in a prison inside her own mind.
I really believe addiction is not a disease. It is a symptom. It is self-medication, but it is NOT the disease, and just getting someone off the drugs is not enough to KEEP them off the drugs. They need to be lifted up, they need to be strengthened and supported. They need to achieve a sense of purpose and pride and confidence, and they need to learn coping skills to handle the times when life gets rough – because even for those of us who are emotionally healthy, life can get ROUGH.
The Dream Center is a place that does exactly that, and it’s different from the rest. When we walked into the Dream Center, Alyx was terrified. The people at the Salvation Army rehab had treated her like a second-class citizen before they turned her away, but that didn’t happen at the Dream Center. They didn’t make her feel ashamed or unequal or not good enough – because they have ALL sat on her side of the table. They made her feel safe, welcome, and worthy. They didn’t preach to her, they spoke to her as a kindred spirit because each one of them had been where she was, and they made it out. They gave her hope.
The part of the program that got Alyx the most excited was one of their outreach programs that residents participated in. The “Adopt-a-block” program visits under-resourced neighborhoods to provide practical assistance. The way they described it to us, they don’t ask to pray with you or preach to you, they say “what do you need? What can we help with? You need a step fixed? A window repaired? Groceries? We’ve got you!” Alyx was really stoked about being able to help people in that way. It sounds ridiculous, but she really was moved by the very real help she would be able to offer people.
The Dream Center’s rehabilitation program is a 1 to 3-year residential program that is free of charge. It includes food, housing, education, counseling and helps people build a healthy foundation to stand on. It not only gets them clean, it helps them heal physically and emotionally and equips them with the tools they will need to stand tall and proud when they re-enter the world at large.
We couldn’t admit Alyx directly to the DreamCenter that day because she had to have a TB test before entering. Between coming home on Friday to get things taken care of and taking her back down on Monday for admittance, she gave in to withdrawal, fear, and doubt. She ran, and that was the last time I saw her alive. I really, truly and wholeheartedly believe that if she could have stayed strong until that Monday, she would be alive now, at the Dream Center. I believe she would be on her way to being healed and healthy and proud of herself.
In her memory, we want to give the gift of life and healing to someone else’s child. It costs $5000 to sponsor someone to 1 year of rehabilitation at the Dream Center. No one needs to wait for us to raise the money to go – they take people in free of charge every day – but we want to help make sure they can continue doing what they do.
What made the outreach special was that Alyx saw past people’s appearances to the person’s most vulnerable spot and she believed that given a chance, light could grow. I think she was right. Help us make her dream of providing healing and service to others come true by helping us sponsor someone just like her. Please help us help those she cared so much about. Your donations will go directly to the DreamCenter's accounts to provide for someone just like my baby girl, and will really change someone's life for the better.
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