Author Katie Morini, left, and her sister Amanda Randall, right
People often ask me, ” What was it like to see your sister struggle with her addiction?”
This sounds like such a simple question, but the answer is never easy to find. I often find myself at a loss for words…. nothing can explain how awful it is to watch day after day as someone continuously takes two steps forward and then three steps backward.
To watch someone with all the intelligence, wit, beauty and desire for life slowly succumb every hope for her future in return for a poison that only takes and never gives.
To watch someone cry for help, for a remedy, and never get one.
To watch your past, and your future, disappear and not be able to stop it no matter how hard you try or fight.
There are no words for the torture that is addiction. The best way I can describe it is this:
Imagine you are walking through a stream with the person who knows you best in the whole world. Your best friend that knows your soul like no one else. The person who has known you since you were a child and seen you at your best— and your worst.
You walk for days and days in the stream, but you can’t seem to find a way out. Sometimes, the water is very deep and it’s hard to keep your head above the surface. It seems you are always walking against the current and you feel yourself getting so tired. You know if you stop though, for even a moment, the stream could sweep you away. You keep going, struggling to find an end.
Your partner is suddenly unable to walk alone. You need to carry her and pull her along at times—many times—or she won’t make it. She can’t do it by herself. There are times when she is rested and able to walk alone. Sometimes—some glorious times— she’s even able to carry you. You love this rest, but you know that at any moment her knees could buckle so you can’t ever really sleep.
You love her more just for trying, though. You get strength from these respites and decide to keep pushing. She still wants to get to shore…. don’t you?
This journey is long and hard. You’ve learned more about her, and yourself, then you’ve ever thought possible. You see each other almost quit. You fight. And you support each other, sometimes all at the same time. When she’s weak, that is exactly what makes YOU strong. And sometimes, sometimes when the stars align just right… she can light up the whole night sky with her laughter. She has that power, a power you don’t. The power to dream and not be shaken by life’s cruel realities. She is a dreamer. You are forever in awe of her ability to always find the silver lining.
“Don’t cry,” she says. “Everything will be okay.”
But, you are tired—so tired and frustrated and angry. Where is the land?? Why did she have to go into the stream? She knew you would follow, didn’t she?
After walking for what seems like forever, you start praying with all of your heart that your journey will be over. You take another, heavy step forward and suddenly you are falling. All around you is darkness. You are screaming and reaching out frantically for her …but you can’t find her. You can’t see anything or hear anything. You keep reaching and reaching but there’s nothing around. Nothing but blackness.
She is gone.
You are alone.
No one hears you scream. No one seems to care that you’re falling. The light is gone.
Finally, you land in a soft warm place. You’re too tired to move. Too tired to stand. There are people who come to lift you up. They are gentle and kind. When they smile at you, you see a glimmer of her. But they tell you, “She’s not here. She is gone.”
They hold you while you cry. They teach you how to survive. These kind people have made that journey, too. They are here after their own fall. Some have been here longer—they are the stronger ones. Some are new, like me. They are still tired, too. These people who lost the person they love the most to the ever-moving river, the sinking sand, the swirling tides that never stop pushing and pulling, all day, everyday. They too, have lost the ones they loved the most to addiction. They hug me, let me cry, calm my nightmares and help me on my new journey. They have seen the light and show me how I can find it, too. Together, we walk this journey. The journey of Grief.
Although I didn’t get to see her go, she found the light too. I didn’t know it at the time, but she’d always been looking for the light, the peace, even when I thought we were already in it.
Perhaps that’s why she went in the stream on the first place. She desired a more beautiful view. She needed more peace, and although the journey made me tired and scarred, it left her battered and broken. With time, the other people who’re grieving help me to see that it wasn’t my fault…I carried her as best I could, but she needed more LIGHT than me.
I can live here in the dusky glow, but she could not. She needed to see the lights from above, to be free and strong, and that’s where she flies now –forever free, like an angel, like a Red-tailed Hawk.
In my dreams I’m a Red Tail Hawk
Soaring unreachable heights
No one can touch me
So far above the city lights
I feel so much freedom
I have no worries or pain
Nothing can harm me
No snow, sleet or rain
I see so much beauty
There’s so much to admire
If something gets in my way
I just float up a little higher
I am a perfect creature
Feathers cream mahogany and gold
Not self conscious at all
I am fearless proud and bold
I cruise past the stars and up to Heaven
Stare in amazement at the colors and lights
I know I’ll see this place again
When I take my final flight
–Written by my sister, Amanda Randall