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[ Opinion ] [ Personal Narratives ]

Addiction + ignorance = Death

Addiction knocked on my door late one evening back in May 2011.

There was nothing subtle about addiction’s knock, yet somehow, I didn’t recognize its life-sucking presence.  How could I not understand why my stilettos were tossed on her closet floor as well as my black leather belt?  I was not an ignorant woman by any means..but I  will admit, I was ignorant to the reality of prescription drugs…and it was hitting me in the face like HD-wide screen, with surround sound and I totally missed it’s signals!

I’ve asked myself if I unconsciously neglected to accept the reality of addiction or if perhaps I purposely couldn’t accept its reality. I concluded I was in survival mode when Kirstyn arrived at my door asking for help…

At the time she arrived, I hated myself.   I hated what I did.  She was an angel who probably got me through what I thought was the roughest, darkest time in my life.  Little did I know, she would bring me to rock bottom, which made everything else fade in comparison…and eventually brought reconciliation to my husband and I, who remarried last year. Death is the biggest rock bottom anyone could ever hit.

I had revealed my unfaithfulness to the love of my life 30 years into our marriage.   I made many at work aware of my sins as to not hear whispers through the hallways.  Everything I knew dissipated and I couldn’t forgive myself. And with that, I revealed what many would keep as a secret.

Divorce was on the horizon and it all seemed so unreal. My husband was crushed yet strong; my adult children were hurting but forgiving; family members were in shock (and some of mine were extremely vocal at expressing their thoughts about me in what I think they felt was being kind).   I was totally numb but felt non-deserving of any feelings.  I tore apart everything our family ever knew…

Whatever the reason for my ignorance, it led to the death of a beautiful soul who came into our son’s life 6 years before…and despite my efforts, she was gone…

She was a porcelain-skinned beauty with rosy cheeks and pouty lips. It was love at first site for our son, Steven. Kirstyn Miranda King possessed a natural beauty inside and out. She had this innocence to her, yet she and our son were far from innocent per her admissions.

After she lived with me, she divulged things about their relationship that her care-free spirit was eager to share. I won’t lie. I was taken aback by her liberalistic confessions; but it came from a sensual being, one I could relate to, and from a heart that loved and missed our son.

You see, our son moved across the ocean in hopes to get Kirstyn away from the pills that called out her name. He figured if he went alone, it would be easier for him to live uncomfortably by himself until he found the perfect place for her to join him.  

Clueless of her addiction and of her parent’s struggles, I learned more about her life in that short time-frame with her than I had in the whole 5 years of their relationship. (It was 5 years, up to that point…they were together a little over 6 years ).  

Our son hid it well (in fear we would be judgmental)…she hid it best. He also refrained from telling us that her parents were incarcerated for their methods of obtaining prescription pills –the same pills Kirstyn once abhorred but fell victim to. 

My son and Kirstyn never got to sPEND another day together… Their hopes and dreams were never met.  When he kissed Kirstyn goodbye at the airport, little did he know, he would view her swollen vessel at the funeral home before she was sent to a Crematory. 

I was unaware Kirstyn was addicted to Oxy and Xanax. I had no clue whatsoever. I noticed when we took our son to the airport for his flight to his new home overseas, Kirstyn was pale and lethargic. I figured she was deeply saddened for his departure. Little did I know she was struggling with a pill that took her pain and worries away…a prescription pill that is not illegal…but was illegally obtained at times.

She moved in with me after I bailed her out from jail. Life as I knew it would never be the same…I took her to probation officers, courts in several counties, group drug sessions. I grew to love Kirstyn like a mother.  I hoped that if I couldn’t be around my children, someone would do the same for me if they needed help.

Shortly after our son moved overseas, Kirstyn showed-up at my door disheveled and unrecognizable. I cried and asked her what was wrong. She said she had been living in her mom’s car due to their incarceration. They lost everything except the contents in the car…

Honestly, it is a blur. It seemed so unreal.

I told her I wasn’t sure if I could help her that night. A young man was standing next to her car. She asked if I could help him, too.  I couldn’t do that. He was a stranger…

She appeared far worse than what I would ever expect would be affects from an allergy pill. You see, I had already been asleep so I was not wide-eyed and bushy tailed. She was in no condition to answer me when I mentioned to her I never got that way on an allergy pill (thinking Xanax was the allergy pill Zertec).

She smelled of marijuana but insisted it was some kind of legal incense type stuff which one could get from gas stations. I wanted to ensure my work security had no issues with me helping her. I was a Defense Contractor and took my role seriously.  I gave her several hundred dollars  to stay at a place just a few miles down the road—one of those long-term stay hotels that are like an efficiency apartment. I expected to see her the following day…she never called…

My son was worried as I was.  We hadn’t heard from her.  He helped to locate her from overseas and found she was in jail, after being in the hospital. 

She ended up getting in an accident a day or two after coming to my house asking for help.  They stated she was under the influence. I  bonded her out and told her this was a get out of jail for free, one-time only assistance. She understood and was extremely appreciative and was on the right track, or so it seemed…

Kirstyn brought life into my house and made it a home.  I enjoyed her company so very much.  She brought purpose during my time of shame while going through an amicable, but painful divorce…I felt empty inside and she took my darkness and brought me light…she also began to keep me on my toes…

We kept busy.  I took her shopping, to concerts, manicures, movies, dinner, and we even spent time watching movies at  home on the DVR in the family room. The last movie we watched was Eat, Pray, and Love.  We were interrupted by a “well-meaning” friend.  I never saw the rest of that movie…

Before pills filled my world, we were a military family who lived all over the world. We became Defense Contractors after my husband retired after 22 years of dedicated service from the United States Air Force. We both earned a significant salary that enabled us to vacation across the USA and abroad frequently; save and invest for retirement, and live in a beautiful home and neighborhood.

I drove a luxury Infiniti Sport Coupe, and my husband, the all American, a Ford SUV (he had to support America). We tried to create the American dream…we only owed our mortgage. Our credit cards never carried interest and  our vehicles were paid off well before their 3 years.  Our lives were somewhat sheltered. But we did well,  despite starting off with nothing…

We purchased a townhome within our neighborhood for our son and Kirstyn, along with a few of his friends, to enable them to have a safe environment to live. We helped with some of their “rent” to make it affordable for all.   

This was the townhome I purchased /acquired as part of “splitting our assets” and the residence we eventually let Kirstyn’s mom stay in, with her ankle bracelet, after her daughter passed.  This residence became a  place of healing, not only me, but others. 

When my apartment lease, where I first resided during/after divorce, ran out,  I decided to move to the townhouse I acquired.  I loved  the apartment, but  I was paying $1,900/month for rent. It didn’t make sense when mortgage for the 3-bedroom townhouse was $600 less a month AND had much more room. (NOTE: I didn’t realize how much that $600 would come in handy down the road when Kirstyn returned …God works in mysterious ways).

Kirstyn moved out from the townhouse shortly before our son moved overseas. She wasn’t happy with me due to the divorce.  Funny thing, the day before she showed up at my townhouse  explaining her situation, I was to sign a contract for new granite counters. The woman didn’t show up for our appointment. I  was annoyed and left…Looking back, it was divine intervention…God knew I would have a more meaningful purpose for that money…He was right…

When thinking back, if someone were to ask me what I knew about prescription drugs…I saw COPS and such and it always portrayed rough and tough people…the “bad boys..what you gonna do.”  I never in a million years thought I would be involved with an addict, and eventually, we became involved with two…. Our jobs kept us very busy and focused.

Speaking of jobs and employment…I was thrilled the day Kirstyn informed me she was employed! She explained she obtained a waitressing job through her girlfriend who would be providing rides. I figured she would get great tips due to her looks and sweet disposition and especially since the location was in an affluent area. I knew lots of business suits would be out for business lunches…I felt she was on the right track.  I had wished it was closer to save on gas money, but  she was so excited and we hugged and celebrated.

It was shortly after when I  was enlightened to as why I kept finding my 5-6” stiletto heels (along with one day finding one of my more sensual undergarments) on her closet floor. I figured she was tired of wearing the plain inexpensive undergarments I got her… I was  once again surprised to find she was working at a Gentleman’s Club.

I approached her of my  revelation. I could tell she was taken aback by my investigative skills.  Actually, someone at work told me I should come to their office and they explained to me, it wasn’t good news that she found a job.  It wasn’t really the nature of the business that bothered me per say, I knew it would still provide avenues for pills.

She explained she wore little pasty’s on her nipples and how she would make really good money.
  I tried to explain to her good money wasn’t everything and there had to be something close by that would be a good environment for her.  She knew how I felt about what she was doing, but she wanted to do this. 

Kirstyn joked about having to find a name for herself and how cute others names were. My competitive nature started thinking of names and I popped a few out, probably something to do with sunrise…. I stopped myself with providing her names that men would call upon and told her I couldn’t support her doing this despite her being an adult; however, I couldn’t stop her.

Fortunately, it was short-lived. Maybe it was prayer…I don’t know what happened. She never said what happened. She came home crying one day  stating someone stole her money. It was a real, gut-wrenching cry. I could tell when she lied. Her throat would tighten. She would whine trying to get her point across. These were true tears of not understanding why someone would steal from her…especially a friend… But her days of a dancer/waitress was done.

Nothing started to surprise me, but I wanted the best for her and I felt she WOULD change lives someday. I felt it in my bones and continued to talk to her about her abilities to help people with her experiences and her compassion for others.  But she continued to suffer and get in trouble.  

There was a moment I lost it a few weeks before she passed, where I cried and screamed out to God, “I DON’T SEE ANY WAY OUT OF THIS BUT DEATH!”  I was becoming scared.  No one could help me…I was trying to get her on Suboxin because she said that was what she needed and she explained she was on a list and how this pill would make her not crave opiates and she would get extremely ill if she took opiates while on this pill. 

I called her drug counselor and asked if she could be moved up, and explained she wasn’t doing well.  He paused as if to say, “No one on his list was doing well.” He apologized that it would just be a little longer.  Sadly, we didn’t have time…

In October 2011, when I received the phone call from the Manassas police that they were resuscitating Kirstyn, my heart stopped. I screamed into the phone I knew this was going to happen, and begged to tell me where she was.   (I wrote more of this in my article Blindsided by Addiction). It was a gruesome sight when I got to the hospital. One of the worst they had ever seen. Her stomach contents were on display in a IV bag, she had the smell of vomit on her face when I leaned down to kiss her. She was on a ventilator, monitors and several bags of intravenous meds. One contributed to her heartbeat I found during my barrage of questions.  There were about 10-15 hospital staff working on her throughout the evening.  Her heart stopped its last time (she was resuscitated 7 times that I can remember) on early Sunday morning, 16 October 2011. 

I was filled with so much sorrow when she passed. The floodgates of tears and emotions were released.  I was never one to really cry…I held my emotions in most of the time…I was a daughter of a Marine.  I always tried to be tough.  I had no control of this floodgate.  They poured constantly, and still do…

But I found many more emotions…I found I was angry.   I was angry at myself for not understanding addiction.  I was angry that so many people didn’t understand why I was helping her. I was angry how a life could be totally disregarded.  A life God placed on this earth…  A life that never expected they would become addicted to pills…

I had been angry at her mother, before her death.  I too didn’t understand the faces of addiction. I didn’t understand the pull this pill could have on people. Katrina, the mother, was aware of this because I felt ashamed that I could ever be angry at a loving mother who suffered the loss of her child and had to carry that burden in her heart.  I knew if I felt this much pain, the mother’s must have been tenfold.  And it was…

I felt empathy for a woman who was thrown in jail due to an addiction.  She wasn’t a mass murderer.  She should have been able to be released immediately to be by her daughter’s side.  I should have been the one incarcerated. My stupid way of thinking was my jail.  I was surrounded by bars of ignorance and stupidity and a total misunderstanding of what this drug could do.  I was working full time and barely sleeping, but why didn’t my energy kick in with common sense to look this up online?  I failed.  

I disclosed my thoughts I originally had for Katrina with great regret for my selfish feelings.  We had many conversations.  And I am a big advocate of hers and know good things are about to happen for her…

When Kirstyn was resuscitated so many times that she was pulverized, I whispered in her ear to let go if she wanted to. I would ensure her mom was OK. I would take care of her. I cried in her ear with tears falling in her hair.  Her skin was so soft. 

I didn’t want Kirstyn to let go…but I didn’t want her holding on due to fear and concern in reference to her mother’s care.  I knew she would have been in a vegetative state if she lived. The doctors told me she was brain dead along with other things too upsetting to mention…But I don’t always trust doctors, so I knew the greatest healer of all and I prayed for her. I also had the hospital call a Father in to pray for her.  He was the same Father who officiated the funeral.

I could tell when she was no longer commander of her vessel. A machine was keeping her alive along with all the meds which kept her heart pumping blood throughout her lifeless body.  It was gut wrenching seeing this beautiful soul before me wither away.

My anger continued to grow…I was angry at those who poo-pooed me for helping an “addict”. I was angry they could literally talk about her like garbage, like she should be tossed out. I was frustrated that it took me showing people a picture of Kirstyn that changed people’s view. She was pretty, she was beautiful.  I showed them that this is not what people thought an addict looked like.  That picture made a world of difference. But what did it matter that she was beautiful? She was a life!  Every life is beautiful!

I was mad at those who still chose to take pills disrespecting her death. But then I realized they too probably tried to stop but it’s evil pull was too strong and destroying them too. I began to talk to many.  To tell them I cared…And I truly did.

I was most angry at the many agencies I called for help who said they couldn’t help. I was appalled that when I did find help, it was going to cost me $22K and they explained she could leave at any time. I was mad that I didn’t have that kind of money to gamble that she would stay and be helped…If they could guarantee she would stay, I would have done it. But I was angry I put money in front of a life and I was mad I  didn’t at least try.  I was distraught and angry that her purse was returned empty, her cell phone tossed…so many secrets filled her death…But I had to forgive. I was forgiven for what I did to my husband. And if he could forgive me, I had to forgive others. 

When I talked to her mom on the phone from jail, it was the moment I filled with compassion. I put myself in her shoes. I was her eyes, ears, and her touch and comfort. I told her I would hold the phone up to Kirstyn so she could tell her she loved her. I knew Kirstyn could hear all the well-wishers, all those who loved her. And each person afar, including our son, expressed their love and hope for her…

Kirstyn was her mom’s angel.    Kirstyn was our angel. She catapulted my ex-husband and I back together. I know she smiles knowing we are back together. I smile because I know she had something to do with it…We never stopped loving, we just needed an angel to guide us back to healing and repair…and she  was our angel…We will celebrate our 30 + 1 year Anniversary this month.  I thank God every day for this opportunity in life.

Picture Description:  One of my memorials of sorts for Kirstyn.

The syringe I found in her garbage the day before she passed  when I  realized she was shooting up Oxy and my belt , which was found on her closet floor several times towards the end.  The $15 toe ring she borrowed of mine that was on her finger when she passed… A butterfly she had that signifies  to me her freedom…She broke free from this evil world  which was her hell on earth…now she soars with peace and tranquility…The shells are those that she and my son collected while at the beach with her family on vacation….  And lastly, two angels. She was an angel to many… Yes, I will always remember….

Addiction NOT ONLY knocked on my door late one evening back in May 2011. Addiction knocked me to my knees when Kirstyn passed in October of 2011.  -Diane Webster-

NOTE:  I always felt Kirstyn would help others…I took some footage of Kirstyn, due to that strong belief.  I contributed it to the FBI to used in the documentary  on opiate addiction called Chasing the Dragon. 

 Kirstyn and her mother, Katrina, were one of the highlighted stories in an effort to bring awareness to this addiction that has taken way too many lives. 

Katrina has many life stories submitted to The Real Edition.  She was a wonderful mother whose addiction took her away from her daughter for a short time in her life.  Kirstyn’s sweet soul reflected her mother’s teachings.  She had compassion and love for many…and she knew her mother loved her and she understood more than anyone her mother’s struggles…

The Real Edition will be conducting their first Podcast which includes discussion on Kirstyn and the stigmatism that is placed on drug addiction.  It was an extremely painful subject to unearth.  But I hope it helps the many  who  may not understand addiction, to realize it can happen to anyone…and it can rip loved ones away in an instant…