I recently found out that someone that I had the privilege to work with for over 8 years died tragically last week. Tasha was a young woman who had numerous traumatic experiences in her life which brought her into my world and we formed a long term relationship. The relationship we build with those we work for is deep, caring and full of dedication. I had the privilege and honour of knowing Tasha in a way that most didn’t have the chance to. I saw the courage in the face of fear, beauty when all she felt was ugly and strength when she fought the lure and peaceful promise of drugs to numb the pain she felt on a daily basis. In her short 22 years, all she wanted was to feel loved and that she mattered. Her life experiences from a young age left her with the message that she was broken, dirty and didn’t matter, but I knew differently because to me she mattered. When she would “fall off the wagon” and return to addiction, she mattered. When she was admitted to the hospital for trying to take her life, she mattered. When she was doing well and working on finishing school, she mattered. When she was at the depth of despair, loneliness and hopelessness, she mattered.
My heart is heavy with grief, sadness, anger and loss. I grieve the young woman she was and all the laughter she brought to each of our meetings. I feel sad that in the moments of her death she was alone and wasn’t sure if she mattered. I’m angry that her death is at the hands of all the adults who abused her when all she wanted was safety and love, took advantage of her innocence and discarded her like the trash they leave at the end of their driveway. I’m angry at the devastating effects of addiction, depression and worthlessness in her life. But most of all, I feel a deep sense of loss of the woman she dreamt she would become….a woman who would graduate high school, live a healthy and “normal” life, be a good aunt, have good relationships, find a career she loved and possibly have a family of her own one day. I had hoped that I would meet that woman one day at the grocery store, that we would catch up on life and I would see her infectious smile again.
Tasha, I will miss you and all of our chats and I know that you know that to me, you mattered.