By Cora's mom, Kerri
Cora Marie O'Leary
Pawtucket, Rhode Island
My beautiful daughter, Cora Marie, came into this world on October 5, 1994. She was my second child and first daughter. Her big brother Troy, along with her father and I, were in love the instant she was born. Cora was the chubbiest little girl; eight pounds and 12 ounces of absolute beauty.
Growing up, Cora was so fun. She was spunky and never wanted to be like the “in” crowd; she danced to her own beat. Cora loved chocolate from a young age and potty trained herself by watching her brother go into the bathroom - she always looked up to him. We knew early on she would be special. Cora learned the love of reading, along with her brother, as I read to them every night before bed. Her love of reading became something very special between her and I. One of my favorite memories is when we went to one of Jodi Picoult’s readings, met her, and got her autograph. Cora would barely study or do homework, yet still aced tests and classes. Her brother envied that, as he dropped out of high school at just 16 years old. The tables would eventually turn as my daughter fell into her addiction, and her brother toured the country with his very own band.
Cora was 16 the first time she tried heroin. Cora would later tell me she wished she had Troy’s life, as he had gotten to see so much of this beautiful country, and she was stuck in little Rhode Island, ultimately dropping out of high school. Cora started to seclude herself from everyone and everything, well before she even dropped out of school. She then attempted suicide in her high school’s gym locker room with her best friend.
From that point on, the bullying started. People made fun of her for trying to take her life and as a result, she started to self harm, and cut herself. This led to more bullying. When she was younger, Cora was a cheerleader and a dancer. Cora quit dance when she was young because she wanted to spend more time with friends. Cora eventually went to an all star gym for maybe a week, only to quit when she felt secluded because she “wore too much eyeliner” and was “too goth”. I remember the extreme anger I felt as I knew another one of her favorite things was now a dreaded activity. I again, let her quit. I remember the feeling of wanting to hurt anyone who spoke ill of my daughter because they were crushing her spirit even more. Cora was a girl with an amazing brain and beautiful attributes for this world. It was those qualities that attracted her boyfriend, whom she dated for seven years. I would see the sparkle in her eyes come in when she looked at him. It would also be the thing that caused her pain. She knew she had to “fix” her addiction.
Cora left Rhode Island to enter a treatment center in Florida and moving in with her grandparents afterward, which ended her relationship. Cora later moved back to Rhode Island and moved in with a new boyfriend; one who tried everything he could to help keep her sober and off of heroin.
Cora found a way out to get the drugs while her boyfriend was at work, causing fights with her boyfriend, who was trying to help her. Cora then moved in with her aunt and got a job - only to use when she got her first paycheck. She had been back to Rhode Island for only 52 days. On the night of Friday, August 5, 2016, Cora was to go out with her friend. As the friend sat in the driveway waiting for Cora, she called me in a panic because Cora wouldn't answer the door or her phone, and everything was locked to the house. Everyone was afraid to call 911, myself included because if Cora wasn't using again she would be mad that we didn't trust her.
Cora was found by her cousin in the upstairs bathroom of my sister's house. The safest place she could possibly be. He called 911. Even Narcan didn't work this time as it had eight times before. A life that was beautiful and young, lost to this terrible epidemic. My daughter, Cora Marie O’Leary, wanted to be a United States Marine like her father and to have a family of her own. Cora was more than a statistic - she was my heart. She left behind so many people who loved her. Heroin is a demon, and my daughter became one of the 129 on August 5, 2016. Our lives are forever changed.