“When I met Elena for the very first time, even in her depressed and drug addled state, she was the most beautiful person I had laid eyes on. I’d met her, by chance, in Atlanta, Georgia when she and I were both caught up in a world of hurt and confusion. Hurting because we knew that our respective lives, at once, held so much promise and happiness and confused as to how we had gotten in the pit of life seemingly without warning. She was a crack user and I was saddled with an unhealthy addiction to pornography.
After confiding in each other our hurt, fears, and shame, we vowed to help each other out or the holes that we found ourselves mired in. It was at this time that I learned the real reason for her hurt: she had 3 little girls that she loved dearly. In fact, she could not talk about them without collapsing in tears. My heart sank for her. We both decided that the only solution was for her to travel to Michigan and fight for her kids. In retrospect, I wish that I had asked her to stay with me and work on us as individuals first.
Immediately upon her arrival in Michigan, she texted me expressing regret for ever leaving Atlanta. Of course, I encouraged her to keep the focus and be strong and fight for the girls. With my support and encouragement, Elena eventually was awarded weekly visitation with her girls; we were ecstatic. It was all working according to plan.
There were warning signs and plenty of new problems to irk me and potentially sabotage what we had worked so hard for. Since I was not in Michigan and we were not dating, Elena accepted an invitation from an ex to travel to Michigan and move in with her to ‘help’ with expenses and rent. This was not disclosed to me for what I presume was to preserve our relationship, fragile as it might be at this time. I knew that something had changed because it was now very difficult to contact her by phone; especially at night. Shortly after this, her behavior became erratic and very secretive. I would now only hear from her when she was in desperate need of financial support. I was skeptical but I had to keep my promise to her to support her, unconditionally, to get full custody of her girls.
Eventually Elena would turn to me exclusively for everything since I become the only one that she trusted with everything in her life. I was not her emergency contact for all of her affairs with every significant official in the process of changing her entire life. Things could not have been working out any better. On top of this good news, we had now given in to the inevitable; we were in love, as we both regularly confessed to each other. I was now the number 2 focus, behind only the girls, of her desire. Every move she made, and every decision made came only after conferring with me. I loved this almost as much as I loved her. We were inseparable. All of our demons had disappeared. Or so I thought.
After being separated from Elena for a full three months, we decided that we should cement our commitment to each other with an in person visit and celebration of our new life.
I arrived in Michigan on the afternoon of August 8, 2019. She did not want me to stay at her apartment because of her obsessed ex that was still showing up uninvited and unannounced. She was on the last night of her week’s visit with the girls. At about midnight, my phone lit up with her beautiful face and I eagerly answered and awaited her sweet voice to ring out from the other end. It was anything but sweet. She was furious as the ex-had attempted to break in through one of the windows to the apartment. I could hear the police and their radios as they were attempting to find him. I asked her to bring the kids to the hotel with me and I would move to another room, but she refused to wake the girls and assured me that everything would be fine. Reluctantly, I said ‘ok’ and went to sleep.
On the morning following, what must have been, a stressful night for her, she phoned me to say that she was ok except that she was depressed over the kids leaving that morning. We exchanged ‘I love you’ and agreed to meet up after her two appointments scheduled for the day. Later in the day, I received a call from Bianca, her case worker, asking if I was in town and if I was with Danielle (he given name upon being adopted out of Russia at the age of 7). I answered ‘no’ and asked why had she asked. Bianca informed me that Elena was not answering the door for her appointment with her counselor and that they could hear music blaring from the apartment. The police were summoned to do a wellness check to which she eventually responded. After reading a text from me expressing our concern, Elena responded via text: ‘I’m ok babe, I overslept.’ ‘ Will you pick me up at 5?’ Of course, I responded.
I arrived at her apartment just before 5 and got out and embraced my love full on and kissed her passionately as new lovers tend to do. Her immediate desire was to have my birth date tattooed on her back shoulder. I was humbled and proud. We took the supplied photo for this article immediately after getting our matching tattoos; yes, I got her birth date on my right arm.
At this time, she wanted to go to my hotel room rather than going out for dinner. We opted for take-out since she ‘didn’t bring any pants and the restaurant would surely be cold.’ Once at the hotel, I presented her with her very own shirt of my beloved Alabama Crimson Tide. She loved it and promised to wear it for every game played. She knew how to make me happy. This is where the dream weekend went to hell, only I was not aware at the time.
My sweet Elena told me that she was going to the bathroom to take some medicine and I didn’t thing to ask for what, maybe because I was just so excited to be with my baby. Afterwards, we sat and talked for a while and she told me, ‘I love you so much, just don’t hurt me.’ How silly I thought. She went to sleep soon afterwards. I went to get takeout and returned about an hour or so later; she was still asleep. This was not alarming to me and I suspected nothing at this time. I soon fell asleep myself and, when I awakened to a text message from my daughter, I looked at Elena again and she seemed to resting. I, again, dosed off until I heard and awful screech coming from the love of my life. Again, I was not alarmed since I knew nothing of her sleep habits nor of any noises that she may be prone to make while sleeping. This would prove to be disastrous.
I looked over at my baby and noticed that she didn’t appear to be breathing. I put my hand to her chest and felt no heartbeat, my face to her mouth and felt no breathing, turned off the AC and heard nothing. I screamed ‘baby are you breathing?’ I lifted her from the bed, she’s dead at this point, and lowered her to the floor and started CPR. I continued until paramedics arrived watched in horror as they attempted to get a pulse for 15 long excruciating minutes. They finally got a pulse but informed me that she had a long way to go.
After being interrogated by the accompanying police officers, I raced to the ER where I met the doctor and nearly fainted as he gave me the initial prognosis: kidney failure, liver failure, heart attack, and considerable brain damage. Our world, on a dime, had turned into the ultimate nightmare. I had not had the pleasure of meeting her mother until now. Now in ICU, I had to tell the mother of the love of my life, my everything, that her daughter was dying. Dying! I couldn’t believe that our months of overcoming pure hell was ending just when it seemed that everything was right in the world again. This was the happiest that we’d been in a long, long time and it was time to celebrate with each other. We had done it, the two of us alone and together. We were in love. Life can be so cruel. This wasn’t fair. I never left her bedside in ICU. She expired a week later.
What followed was the doctor explaining that her system showed that she’d taken opioids and amphetamines. I was dumbfounded. This can’t be true She was clean now. I had been told this by her and Bianca said that she was doing very well. I can’t say that I was shocked because I had not spent any time with Elena in person until that horrifying night. Surprised that she had lied to me, yes.
It’s only been one month since my baby left us and I must say that it has been nearly unbearable. I still cry every day. It’s still hard for me to believe that she’s not here, that I won’t hear her voice again, that I won’t hold her in my arms, and that her beloved babies won’t grow up with their wonderful mother. She was indeed a loving mother. Despite how this life ended for her, she was so much more than a person afflicted with a drug addiction. She was so full of life, funny, smart, and strong.
Over the days immediately following her death, I was devastated. Life for me was devoid of any meaning nor worth. It took me days to get out of bed. All of the advice and encouragement I was being given, though appreciated and helpful for a moment, was the typical empty platitudes that people spout out during these times: ‘she’s in a better place’, ‘she would want you to be happy and move on’, ‘This was in God’s plan’, ‘everything happens for a reason’. One doctor told me that I was lucky. Really? Lucky? The love of my life, whatever she was afflicted with was dead and I’m lucky. I wanted to punch him.
The worst, however, is the people trying to comfort me by trivializing our relationship as not really long and reducing her to a drug addict only. I have absolutely no patience for this. We loved each other, however brief, and she was so much more than her circumstances. I love you Elena.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by A. M. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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