For most people Aug. 15 holds very little significance. Why should it? It’s just another day in our very busy lives.
Aug. 15 brings us closer to the end of the short summer season in New Hampshire, and much to the dread of many kids (but to the delight of their parents) Aug. 15 also means the beginning of a new school year is right around the corner. For a few people, Aug. 15 is also the anniversary of the birth of Abigail “Abi” Lizotte. This year will mark the first birthday without the physical existence of Abi, but her presence will be felt none the less.
Abi passed away Dec. 1, 2017 (www.seacoastonline.com/news/20171217/carrying-weight-of-world), and in the months that have followed, many more facing addictions have sadly joined Abi. The reality is that every day another birthday comes and goes for a family that has lost a loved one to addiction. The sadness never goes away, and special occasions once enjoyed as a family are now sad reminders of a loved one’s passing. It is said “time heals all wounds.” Not really. The numbness may fade, but the scar is always there, retelling the story of Abi’s loss over and over.
I was wary of writing this piece, knowing some people might misunderstand my reasons. I am in no way the guardian of Abi’s memory, but I do not want to forget Abi, or the thousands more we have lost to this epidemic. Abi’s family and friends must live with her loss every day, but it is on special occasions that they struggle the most. For you see, Aug. 15 may be “just another day in our lives,” but for the family and friends of Abigail Kathryne “Abi” Lizotte, Aug. 15 is Abi’s special day.
To Abi’s friends and family, Aug. 15 means something, and they hold in their hearts not only the tragic end of a wonderful friend, mother and daughter, but the cherished memories that make Abi a special person. As each day passes since the loss of Abi, her friends and family must not only live with the void of Abi’s absence, but also with the knowledge that Abi’s existence will fade, especially for those who only knew her casually.
In the midst of this epidemic, every day is the birthday of someone we have lost to addiction. Every day is a day a loved one is mourned. For you see, today may just be another day in our lives, but for some it will be their last day living with addiction. However, today will be the first day for those family and friends left behind to deal with the pain and the after effects of addiction.
The friends and family of those we have lost would give anything, include their own lives, just to see their love ones one last time. To hold them, to reassure them and to let those in need of our grace know that they are loved. Addiction sadly is a shared experience, those closest to the addict struggle to help the addict in life, and then are cruelly left behind to understand the addiction in death. Those we have lost deserve our grace, those left behind need our kindness and support.
It is important that we mourn those we have lost, but we also must celebrate the life of Abi and others who have died in hopes we can save those still struggling with addiction. I wrote in December that “Abi’s death cannot not be the end of her life’s purpose,” and I believe that more today than I did when I wrote it.
My hope is that people realize I am in no way trying exploit the death of Abi, nor am I trying to put any more on “the shoulders” of Abi’s memory. However, I want all of us to remember Abi had a mission, she had a purpose, and we as a community honor Abi and all those we have lost by doing everything in our power to make sure today is not the last birthday for anyone fighting to survive addiction.
I am under no illusion that I have any real power or can convince any of you to join this fight, whether on behalf of Abi or someone closer to your heart. I am merely one person, fortunate enough to have a small piece of media real estate in this article. So, all I can do is ask you to please help in any way you can.
Please keep Abi in your heart, as well as those we have lost or have been affected by addition. Please also consider donating to those organizations that Abi was a vital part of: Portland Recovery Community Center, 486 Forest Ave., Portland, ME 04101; Hope on Haven Hill, 326 Rochester Hill Road., Rochester, NH 03867; or NAMI of Maine www.namimaine.org.