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Kathrine F.

By Kathrine's mom, Caroline

Kathrine Folker

Warrenton, Virginia

When I became the mother of a beautiful, tiny child, my dream came true. Kathrine was born a little early and was needy from the start, but that was OK--I had so much to give. We spent every hour of every day together. I slept when she slept, played when she played. I nursed constantly and she grew quickly. From the moment she was born, Kathrine and I had a powerful bond, and despite what was to come, this connection never faltered.

Kathrine showed some signs of trouble early in her life, but we didn’t think they were anything to worry about. In elementary school she developed attention issues and by the time she was in middle school, she had some problems with anxiety. But the doctors said Kathrine was borderline and she was never diagnosed or medicated. Socially, Kathrine was thriving. She had many friends and always went out of her way to take care of the underdog. She was filled with energy and believed that everyone deserved love, no matter what.

Fast forward to her senior year of high school--Kathrine got her CNA nursing license and started working in a local senior and rehabilitation home. She was the youngest employee at the facility and adored her patients who loved her right back. But during this time, she became involved with people who introduced her to substances, which led her down a path that would eventually take her life.

At eighteen years old, “Kat,” as she was called at the time, realized that she wasn’t just partying hard but drinking to blackout. Bad things happened to her when she was drunk of which she had no memory. She was scared and did not want that to be her life. At such a young age, Kathrine was mature enough to check herself into a rehab and then join a sober living community. And it worked, it really did. For a year, Kathrine was clean, sober and self-supporting. She was happy again, she was beautiful, and we were full of hope.

By the time she turned nineteen, she was excited about the future and felt strong enough to do it alone. She moved out of the sober living community and signed a lease for her own apartment. But it turned out that she wasn’t ready. She told me that she wanted to see if she really had a problem or could learn to drink like everyone else. And so she drank. One night about four weeks or so after moving into her apartment, Kathrine was drunk when someone told her “keep still” and injected heroin into her hand. That moment was the beginning of the end. Twelve weeks later, Kathrine was dead. Her first overdose was her last.

The man who gave my daughter that final and fatal dose of heroin is still in jail. My daughter, who was nervous that wanting a glass of champagne on her 21st birthday would be her downfall, never made it to twenty.

I couldn’t save my child. Ask any mother how this feels and you will hear common threads: guilt, sadness, disbelief and most of all, grief--grief that I will never see my child grow up and reach her potential.

Because I couldn’t find adequate support when I needed it the most, I started a support group. I educated myself about the disease of addiction and how to help individuals and families who are struggling. Through this group I have met some of the most important people in my life, people who I now call family. This group has acted as my lifeline and I hope that if you need help, it can become yours too. We invite anyone who has been impacted by this horrible disease to join us.

Reach out. We are here.

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