(excerpt from the Prologue of my memoir, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero)
“Where might my daughter be now if fate, or genes, had been kinder to her? Now, several years into her illness, I am coming to terms with the terrible legacy that began generations ago in my own family and which I have unwittingly passed on to my daughter. All these years I’ve diligently searched for answers, clarity, and solace in the face of terrible pain. Like a gift from the universe, it has come to me slowly, and it is with me now. But it’s been a hard won victory.
Looking back, it’s hard to believe Angie ever could have been such a joyful child. True, her start in life was, between the colic, screaming, and subsequent hernia operation at a mere three months, not a smooth one. But she bounced forward into childhood so that I never imagined what would be down the road many years later. There were signs, yes, but I never saw the enormity of full-blown drug addiction coming. In any case there’s nothing I could have done to prevent the dreadful onslaught that would engulf my family.
I liken the effect addiction has on families to a bomb exploding in the living room with everyone nearby. The shrapnel hits us all in different places; none of us is left untouched, though some may be wounded more than others. Some even ignore the explosion or block it out as the insidious effects of addiction take root in these bewildered individuals.
What happens when a bomb drops anywhere? Doesn’t everybody run for cover? That’s what happened in my family. Angie’s brother and sister got out of the way as much as possible—a healthy response, I suppose—shrapnel wounds can be pretty dreadful. It broke my heart to see them pull away from their sister. But now Angie was so isolated in her family. And so began the long journey, Angie’s father’s and mine, of carrying her, much of the time, on our backs.”