“At this time last year, our world was turned upside down.
I got a message from the Eastlake Police Department; I was told to ‘give them a call.’ While at my in-laws house for Christmas, I call the number back. The dispatcher answered the phone, informing me the defective was on a call and would call me back soon. Assuming it was a last-minute Christmas bag, I didn’t think much of it. I simply waited for the detective to call me back, unbothered.
When he finally did, he asked me, ‘Is there somewhere you can talk? Are you with anyone?’ It was 5:55 p.m. I told him yes; I was with family. Then, I got some of the worst news a father could ever hear. I remember that call, and the words he told me just like it was today, but it was one year ago today. He told me he ‘found’ my daughter Karisten. ‘You need to come now.’ She was only 23 years old at the time.
See, this all started when she got into an argument with me and told me she was ‘never coming home.’ She had pushed her mom Tanya down the stairs while hyped up on speed. During this time, she had failed out of her University and was told she had to go to Community College. She had to get her grades up in order to get accepted back into University. That’s how it all started. A little bit of weed and a little speed. She believed people who told her it was no big deal, but that day she pushed her mother down the stairs, she knew there was a problem and fled.
She fled to a family member’s house and when I showed up to get her, Karisten told me she was never coming home. That’s when a family member stepped in to let K do whatever she wanted. ‘She can stay here as long as she wants,’ she said. You see, sometimes outside family can be naïve to certain things, even when it’s right in front of their face.
Like I said, Karisten wanted to be sober, and she was, for 12 months. She came clean at a funeral when she told me about her addiction. That day, I made her tell the rest of the family. That was her first step to recovery. She was clean for 12 months and then she got a job that she probably shouldn’t have gotten. While at that job, she met a person who she trusted. Karisten had a couple of bad days and after her ride didn’t show up at 2:00 p.m., she opened a ‘Christmas present’ she had received. It was a free bag of what she thought was heroin.
She took a little through her nose, and when I say a little, I mean a little. As in, not that much to kill her. Or so she thought. She took a little up her nose and her body immediately knew she had overdone it. What she was given was pure Fentanyl and that put her into a grasping reach for her life, but it was too late.
Karisten was a good kid who was steered down the wrong path a couple of times. Lord knows Tanya and I did everything we could to keep her safe for those 20 years before she went on to ‘learn’ about her past. As her father who had full custody of her, I chose not to tell her about my ex, her mother, for her own safety.
After the detective called to tell me my daughter had overdosed, I fell to my knees in the snow and cried like a baby. I could not believe my Tigger had done this. ‘I’ll be on my way.’ I left the holiday party and got there in record time.
She had hit such an lethal dose that when she went into a hemorrhaging arrest, she sat up from her pillows. She was propped up on her bed, her arms straight out with a slight bend at the elbow, fists clenched. Her thumbs were tucked under her fingers, grasping so tight it looked like she was trying to grab life back in her. Like she was reaching out for help, but she was all alone.
She was all blue-baced, veins out, and had a little blood from her nose. Her teeth were so tight together her mouth wouldn’t open. I was told I couldn’t touch my daughter in case there was ‘any lethal powder’ still on her. I asked for gloves and glove up cause I’ll be damned if I’m not going to help my daughter one last time or hug her and let her know I love her.
Well, I kept my word and spread the bag out and carefully placed her in it to say goodbye to her so they can find out what it was that she took. I zipped her up in her body bag and helped them carefully place her on the cot. Karisten had opened up about drug abuse only 12 months prior when told us she was on heroin. She wanted to get clean. She kicked the dragon square in the balls and I didn’t think she was ever gonna look back for it. She promised me that she’s NEVER going back to H again. She said, ‘Daddy, I don’t want to go back to that stuff ever again.’
She told me how it began with my ex teaching her how to snort Xanax after she went to learn who this lady was who gave her rights up 20 years ago. Since she wanted nothing to do with her for the past 20 years, Karisten wanted to know why. Her mother Tanya, who adopted Karisten when she was 5 years old, and I, who had full custody of her since she was 1 1/2 years old, had raised her and taught her well. We were fair parents who had rules and Karisten didn’t want to follow those after attending university. My ex taught her to blow ‘Zannies’ up her nose and when she came back to Ohio, she couldn’t get those Zannies as easy as she could in Missouri. So, her boyfriend (at the time) got the alternative and it ended up being heroin. The rest of the story has been buried with her.
Karisten was a beautiful, loving, fun, and happy boisterous young woman who did good things and took a bad turn. This past year has taught me a lot. It’s taught me who are real friends, who is real family, who is there when you need something, and who doesn’t really care. It’s taught me that if you are a heroin addict. you are always looking for an out. Either an out with their next hit to stop hurting or an out to get clean. I know now and have seen that the only out for opiates will be death.
No addict wants to be an addict and NO parent should have to bury their child, but we did. No family should have to suffer, but ours has. No person should have to suffer as an addict, so please do what you can to help them. Either get them in treatment, let them know how bad this stuff is. If they don’t want to understand how bad it is, take them to the funeral home of their choice and have them plan their funeral so they understand how real and bad the drug is.
We miss Karisten every single day. We wish she never made the choice she did, but we couldn’t do anything since it was her choice. Not to die, but to take one little hit cause she didn’t think anyone would know. Well, now everyone knows and I will keep it that way to do my best to help another.
Let your kids be kids and give them guidance as an adult. Follow your gut and, by all means, if you as a parent think something should be a certain way, don’t let others dictate your actions. ALL PEOPLE NEED GUIDANCE at one point or another in life and the best people for that IS PARENTS and family (if it’s sound advice and not a free will attitude). Offer advice to other parents as well. Follow your gut if you think your children or loved one is addicted. Do what you believe is the right thing and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, don’t let others dictate what should or shouldn’t be done for those you love and sacrifice for. Do what’s right and, if you can’t get them clean, understand it’s their choice.
We are still working to pay off the expenses of her funeral arrangements and to get her a real headstone. Not only do you have the hurt of your loved one being dead, but you have the hurt of burying them, too.
Some of these pictures may not be to your liking, but I will post them anyway. I promised my daughter when I zipped her up…I made sure she was comfortable when we buried her and promised I would let others see the hard, true reality of what these drugs will do to you, for those who think it can’t happen to them. I share these pictures to help others understand, and to save another’s life.
If you need help, please get it. If you don’t know how, turn yourself in. If you think someone needs help, do it for them. If you can’t convince them, be prepared for the worst.
I wish each and every one of you the very best and hope if you are addicted that you get clean and live a long, healthy life. It’s not going to be easy, but life isn’t easy. You can do it if you do your best.
We miss you Tigger and LOVE YOU VERY MUCH. I wish you were still here and were under our roof.
Positive thoughts to those going through this and those looking for help to get clean. I just want ALL of you to know that no matter who you are or what you do or how perfect you think someone is, heroin can and will come into anybody’s life and destroy it. Do not be blind to this. AND DO NOT LET THIS DRUG FOOL YOU!!!
Please, please, please, wrap your arms around your loved ones and let them know how much you care and love them, because tomorrow is never guaranteed. I urge you all to share this post. Maybe, just maybe, it’ll help another family.
Rest easy Karisten Lyn Shermann. I miss you so much, my heart is broken, and I LOVE YOU so very very much.”
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