I didn’t write much in here about Savannah because she got mad if I talked about her. That is actually the biggest tragedy in this whole thing. She is my daughter. She passed away April 17th. She accidentally overdosed on heroin. She was going to graduate from a 7 month stay in rehab on April 19th. Instead of flying out to Utah to her graduation, her dad and I (and our support/love people with us) flew out to a funeral home and viewed her body and brought her remains back to Colorado.
Over 200 people came to her funeral and reception after. A daughter reached out to her father because of Savannah. Her father was C. Thomas Howell, Ponyboy, Savannah’s hero in the movie The Outsiders, then reached out to me. She was a BIG hearted kid. She mattered. Now this daughter and father are talking again.
I can’t help but wish we had invited this many people to her graduation.
But she hated us talking about rehab. A lot of people had no idea she was in rehab. It would have been nice for her to perhaps have the support of this much love the past few months that I saw that day we all gathered to mourn.
It’s no one’s fault. No one knew how to handle this. We all did our best.
She was in a pretty deep hole.
It was from more than just drugs.
She was in rehab her senior year of high school for her eating disorders. That was a graduation we all made it to; high school. She had a hole inside her that was so deep and so treacherous and it dug at her for five years, or longer, since jr. high she told me once…until she died. Trying to have both worlds. She moved to New York to be an actress. She was immediately cast in an on off Broadway play that went to LA and then to London. She was doing everything she could to be big.
I feel bad talking about it now, but it is now that I have decided to never shut up.
Heroin is a tragedy. It takes over your life and makes you want to almost die, and actually die just to give it the chance to take your pain and your joy and your love away. You can get it off the internet. You can move to a new town and find the sub Reddit that tells you where to find opiates, and this sub reddit gives you support in doing so, it helps you find apps and chat apps to get your drug, it helps you with passing UA’s and tells you everyone relapses and that no one is perfect. It gives the green light.
I wish I could put my daughter’s face of death in that subreddit and tell them here’s what heroin really looks like. I want to start a sub reddit for these people that is filled with info they can send to their mothers that will prepare them for how much cremated ashes really weigh and that in the end, they just get a plastic box with their kids’ name on it. This sub reddit will inform the masses what permit parents need to get through security at the airport because they have human remains in their backpack and the sub reddit I will write will let parents and family know that the emptiness they have in their hearts now, will be there forever. Just to fill them in. Maybe let them know they can find grief on every street corner as well. There is no romance in the face of a 23 year old girl lying in a draped off viewing table in a funeral home.
This girl, this 23 year old girl, my daughter, reached so many people with her radiance. The face of heroin is also the face of youth. It is the face of this beautiful, amazing girl who lit up so many lives I still get messages today from her friends that don’t know what they are going to do without her. Kids from Canada, from Australia…How could she not see this in herself?
That is the true tragedy.
How deep depression goes, how far it reaches, how much it takes over. How low you put yourself and how hard it is to get out. Depression is not even the right word for what this is. I think she saw her light, I really do. She stayed as long as she could. She thought she could dabble and please the people that worried about her and also stay in her dark world. She wanted both. She always liked the edge of danger.
There was a lot going on here with this kid, and heroin was just a symptom of another monster. Don’t get me wrong, heroin is a giant monster that takes your life, leaves a ghost behind for you to worry about until it actually takes the life. It’s killing thousands of good beautiful souls everyday. It never lets go no matter how hard a kid tries and no matter how bad they want a good future.
I’m not saying stay happy all the time. That’s ridiculous. But live big. Like she did. I’m barely talking to people right now, but I have changed as a person.
Reach out even if it feels stupid. Call, even if it feels stupid. Call to help and call for help. You don’t even have to say the word help. Or call anyone. Just be present. Help a stranger. Savannah was that person everyone reached out to and she reached back and touched so many lives. Like her friend said in the comments here – it was her monster that made her such a compassionate friend. She didn’t want anyone to feel bad about themselves because she knew how awful that felt and didn’t want anyone’s heart to hurt.
That’s all I’m doing right now: staying open. I hugged an Uber driver in Utah because he talked about his life in such an open, raw, vulnerable way that I wanted to hug him just to let him know we were listening. It felt weird to ask him but he said YES and got out of his car and we hugged him. It was totally worth opening up to and asking and risking love. (My best friend went with me on this trip/nightmare to Utah/event/ride of lifetime.) YES he said. He was driving us to Temple Square where I spread some of my daughters ashes before flying home and HE was the one who needed a hug. Because we were open, and present and there and that made us big and that made him matter.
Don’t worry, I still curl up. This world is fucking rough man.
My daughter was big. Story after story about her reaching out and changing lives little by little by little over time with so many people.
I am overwhelmed.
I have so much to say.
What I wrote for her funeral reception, what came out of me that I put on paper changed my world too.
I’m not going to shut up.
I can’t be angry all the fucking time.
I can’t even gather my thoughts but I’ll come back in here and try to as much as I can.
Here’s what I wrote and read at her reception:
The Artist’s Soul
My heart is broken.
My soul is lost.
Savannah, I wanted you
to have fun
to be proud
be in the world
and to be BIG.
So many hearts are filled with you
I wish you truly knew how many.
I wish we didn’t wait until people died
for all of us to see this.
I want to love more
I want to be more
I want to LIVE more
and fill in the gap
that Savannah will never get to.
So many people are going to live with you in their hearts Savannah,
You really did change the world.
I want you all to take a look around this room
and see how much love and support there is here for this one little girl.
This amazing woman
who barely got the time
to be a woman.
And in such a short time, reached so many people.
Look around this room.
If Savannah does anything at all to inspire you
KEEP THIS VIEW IN YOUR MIND.
Keep this view in your mind, keep this view in your hearts;
because at times, we have no idea how much we are loved,
Imagine in your heart, for yourself,
a room full of people.
I am overwhelmed with so much love
to know what an impact Savannah made in so many lives.
Savannah, you really did change the world.
So don’t stop talking.
Be big anyway.
She wanted to graduate and be in the world. I read her journals today. All of her belongings fill my apartment. She didn’t want to die. She was afraid to die. I feel like I was harsh sometimes so she could go be big, when all she needed was some support and love and cheers. I did that too. She had so many cheerleaders and love. She really was working so hard and really wanted this. I read her words. She wanted to keep being big in this world. With all her heart. She didn’t mean to go.
I’m going to fill in that gap she left.
I’m not kidding.
Don’t stop talking.