At 15 Ashley was so excited, She was finally old enough to start a part time job after school at our local supermarket..Make
her own money and buy the things she desired..She was very responsible for a 15 year old ...then her and her first boyfriend
Justin were in a car accident and they had been drinking I later found out at the hospital..Justin didnt have any
injuries but ashley broke her ankle and had an injury to her rectum,when a piece of the window frame pierced her...We contacted
a lawyer and he started a personal injury lawsuit..we now wonder if things would have turned out different had we not sued
the insurance co.
At 17 Ashley and Justin had broken up she was still working at the supermarket...My husband got her a cellphone in his
name and we even got her a credit card so she could start building a credit history ..What amazed me was, that girl payed
every bill she owed on time..her cell,her credit card...We were so very proud of her..Then ashley got her licence and her
Dad wanted to get her a car,So my husband got a loan and bought her a little GEO Metro..Ashley agreed to make the monthly
payment...And just as we expected she always made sure her payment was paid on time..
I remember the first day she drove off by herself, No more permit..she was legal now...I was so scared and depressed..It
was hard to let go but I managed...She made it home alright that night.. so each day she came home safe I didnt panic
as much..She was always asking if she could go hang out in rutland at the parking deck with friends..I didnt care for that
but my husband always saw her there on his way to work so we figured it was harmless..
Just before ashley turned 18 she met this guy named Gary..My husband later found out through a guy he works with that
Gary had just gotten out of jail..We still dont know why he was in there..But Ashley made it seem to us that he was the
sweetest thing and he cared for her so much..This was soooo far from the truth..
While with Gary, Ashley lost her job for shoplifting where she worked..we could not figure why she would steal an eyeliner
when she was in there picking up her paycheck..It made no sense..she had money.But I remember the call from the police officer
and I remember an overwhelming sense of Disappointment..We grounded her and she threw a fit..I had never seen her get so upset
She needed to see Gary or she would die she claimed..We ended up giving in and ungrounding her early..
A few weeks later Ashley turned 18 ...This was the day she was legally able to get her money from the lawsuit..She had
over 120,000 dollars..We thought we had drilled smart sense into her through the prior 2 years..college, investing,buying
a house, or something where she would make good use of the money.
The day she got her money she had her dad go with her to buy a brand new car..a blue honda civic..She was so excited
and the minute the car was bought she had to run right to Gary..I dont even think she had a piece of the birthday cake we got
for her..I think she told us to save her a piece and she was out the door..
Over the next few days Ashley was always on the go,not doing her share around the house,just taking showers and
out the door.. I gotpissed off and called her cell and told her she might as well move out if she was just using us for a
rest stop..I really regret ever telling her that because thats what she did..Her and gary started living in hotel rooms and Ashley
and I didnt speak for weeks,as much as that hurt me ,but we are very much alike and both very stubborn..she was a senior
in high school and i kept getting notes about her absences and my husband called her to warn her she might not graduate
if she kept it up..She told her father she would do better and that was that..she did end up graduating but didnt attend the
Ashley called me crying one night upset asking if she could come home, I was always stubbornly saying if she ever wants
to come home theres no way in hell im letting her, but the moment I heard her ask I said YES come home..She never did tell
me why she was upset that night,because she always protected him no matter what,but months later told me he was smoking
crack and acting crazy and he wouldnt stop..The next day she comes home after school all happy because he met her after school
and told her he walked all the way from whitehall,NY..yea right... ashley was always too trusting..She was right back with
him,right back to the hotel ..
Another instance my younger daughter came home and said the police were talking to gary at school and he was yelling..I
called and asked Ashley about it and she claimed He went into school yelling at some girls that were starting rumors about
her..AGAIN Garys a hero..She later told me he freaked and went into school accusing her of sleeping with a teacher..I will
never understand why she didnt tell me the truth from the beginning..Why did she want to protect him and make him seem so
great to her father and I?
Early morning may 27,2003 The phone rings and my husband answers it to hear some strange girl telling us that ashley
is in the hospital..We rush to the emergency room not knowing whats wrong,every scenario running through our minds..Then a
doctor comes out and tells us Ashley has a stab wound and we right away look at each other thinking Gary did it but he then
says she did it...and we were floored.. I couldnt wait to talk to her because I still thought she was protecting Gary...We
finally go to see her in the rehab,psych unit..and she said she did do it herself to get away from him...At the hospital the
officer had alreadygiven gary a ride back to the hotel where he found marijuana and god knows what else but gary knocked
the cop down the stairs and took off running....
In my visits with ashley at the hospital she finally told the truth about Gary, he was no prince like she pretended..He
was a sick individual that did unspeakable things to her that i cant even bear to repeat..he wouldnt let her go to school
which explained all the absent notices..Ashley also said she once went to the doctors with gary and the doctor asked him if
he was still hearing voices..he told ashley that he made that up so he could get out of prison..Now I am no expert but I dont
think hearing voices will get you out of prison..I think he probably had a very serious mental condition...
Ashley did confide in her school counelors who desperately tried to help one even brought her to the battered womens
shelter so she would know where to go for help..I so wish she had told us what was happening to her but she must have been
scared..like when she was in the hospital he called and threatened to kill us..so she called the police from the
hospital and they go and see my husband at work..the next thing I know 2 officers are at the door telling kids and I to
leave the house, even if he wasnt serious they think it would be best i we went to a relatives..so we did..but after that
night I refused to let that bastard scare me, Who the hell did he think he was..No wonder my daughter was a nervous wreck..The
hell he must have put her through..while in the hospital he stole the stereo system from her car and took all her belongings
from the hotel..she never did get them back and I never even got to see her yearbook, he took most all she had...
In the hospital Ashley admitted to me that she had tried snorting heroin and she had tried crack..I could not believe
my smart daughter could be so STUPID..She said the night she stabbed herself she did alot of ECSTACY..I never heard of it
before but as I would find out,with Ashley I learned alot more about drugs than I ever thought I would have to or wanted to..
Ashley started seeing a guy named dave and by that time gary had helped her go through half her money..Ashley once said
of Dave that she couldnt believe that he never once asked her for a cent or asked her to buy him anything..He did seem
like a real nice kid..I wish she had stayed with him..Ashley wanted to take a trip to new york city with a girl she had met..she
said she was going shopping,her and Gary had gone there before and the big city fascinated her..anyway she was gone for
2 or 3 days and dave called worried and said he hadnt heard from her and he couldnt stand the girl she was with.Later that
night I called Ashleys cell and she seemed incoherant..it was 6pm but she thought it was morning..So I called dave and told
him my suspicions..I think ashley is doing drugs and he said Yes she is,he told me that her and the girl had been doing heroin
at a house in rutland and someone called the cops...around midnight Ashley arrived home and I confronted her and asked to
see her arms she denied it for a little while..and i asked her what the red spot was on her arm..she finally looked me right
in the eye and said it was a track mark..My worldcrumbled..I will never forget the look on her face..or the slap in mine,thats
what it felt like anyway..
We tried to talk her into getting help but she insisted there wasnt a problem that it was the first time she had ever
tried a needle and promised it would be the last..Why did I believe her?? the summer went on and i remember being out in our
backyard and ashley coming home she came out to see me and I could tell she was on something and when I ased her she denied
it but a few minutes later she said mom I cant lie to you,I did some oxycontin..and dave made me flush the rest down the toilet..I
wouldnt let her leave I made her sit there with me and it was so sad to see this pretty girl face all saggy and itching up
a storm..at one point she even picked up a rock and started scratching her skin with the rock..I felt so helpless I didnt
know how to help her and that feeling would only get worse as time went by..a few weeks later she had a checkup appointment
with our family doctor and without ashley knowing I called the office and told them about ashleys drug use..they wanted me
to come to the appointment also but i knew ashley would know something was up..so my husband went and picked her up where
she had spent the night ,so we made sure she got to that appointment..so he brought her home and she looked really really
bad and I asked her if I could go with her to the doctors and she hesitated but agreed..
when the doctor came in he could see she was on something and we both talked to her about the drug use.
and he suggested evergreen a place for substance abuse..
and made a follow up appointment,which ashley never made because she was on her way back to NYC..I guessed to buy more
heroin..It was so frustrating that we couldnt do anything,No matter how much we begged and pleaded with her she wouldnt stop..
When a child turns 18 a parent has no rights anymore and we felt so alone and desperate..ashley was well known
with the police because she hung around with bad people and was always getting stopped and they a few times I knew of found
needles in her car..but they never found heroin..so they would let her go on her way..even my youngest daughter found needles
in a sweatshirt of ashleys she was wearing..That really made me mad and we had a big argument over that..
We always wondered why they let her go..I thought they could arrest you for needles..guess not...In the fall we had a
phone call from a detective he was with the drug task force and we had a long talk about ashley and her drug use..my husband
and I agreed to help them..because as much as I loved my daughter I would rather see her in jail than the constant fear of
waiting and wondering if this would be the day a cop knocked on the door and said our daughter had been found dead of an overdose
somewhere..Actually it was the only alternative we felt we had left if we were going to save our daughter
One day ashley sold some belongings and had about 1000 dollars so we called the detectives beeper number and he called
back and we told him she had money and we thought she was going to buy drugs..after all he had told us he could have someone
tailing her within 5 minutes..well I dont know where they were but that weekend ashley bought 40 bags of heroin and did them
all in 2 days..that was the last time we called his beeper..She bought 40 bags and where the hell were they..By the way Ashleys
money was all gone at that point thats why she was selling things..she spent 120,000 in 6 months time and only had a car,clothes
and a chow chow puppy named princess to show for it.. I believe the rest went into drugs...It just breaks my heart because
she could have gone so far in life..yet she chose drugs.
Around september Ashley had split up with Dave and was seeing a kid named Shawn she said he didnt do drugs and decided
she wanted to clean up and she applied for a job at a nursing home because while in school she got her LNA so she renewed
her licence and they hired her..She seemed to enjoy it at first, she really got attached to some of the older people, She
would come home and tell me how cute they were and what had happened that day..Then she seemed to be slipping again..shawn
was into drugs too,she had lied, why did she protect these guys I remember saying to her That she needed to stay away
from all the druggies she hung out with before and to concentrate on work and think about going to college..I told her
if she did all that she would be able to stay away from drugs..She said Mom you just dont understand I cant even get away
from it at work..There was a male nurse who stole oxycontin and gave her some and tried to have a drug friend of ashleys sell
them for him....I was so mad...but afraid for ashley if I said anything...Ashley wasnt there long before she decided she wanted
to get clean once and for all..She made arrangements to go into the brattleboro retreat and I remember the morning she
was packing to go she went into the bathroom and locked the door and when she came out she was sitting on the floor packing
saggy face,eyes closed, I knew she had just shot up in my bathroom..I couldnt yell at her I felt so sorry for her and I knew
she was leaving for rehab in a little while..They would help her and get our little girl back..Her dad drove her to rehab
and checked her in..and I later found a bag of heroin in the bathroom closet Ashley had forgot which i poured down
the sink..We so thought things were on the right track finally and this would work..
When we went to visit her she seemed really good and we went to a meeting where people tell their stories..some
just break your heart and you never realize how many others are out there addicted..but the room was packed and My daughter
was one of them...
Ashley came home from rehab and within 3 days she was using again with a guy she met in brattleboro..I was so pissed
I told her to take her clothes with her.. if thats the way she wanted to live i didnt want to see it we argued and she tried
to kick me and she fell back on the floor then she came back at me and I grabbed her hair and we fell back on the couch,then
to the floor...I never hit her but I held her down and she kept screaming let me up..finally I did..and she left with her
new friend from rehab.. I felt so hurt and depressed that our relationship had come to that,That heroin meant more to
her than I did..The detective once said heroin is THE BEST WORST DRUG..the best feeling you'll ever feel and the worst feeling
when you cant get it..
Through fall the drug use continued and the trips to holyoke..Her father was diagnosed with cancer in the neck and had
surgery to remove his tonsils.which upset ashley but I begged her to stop the drugs that we needed to be there to help her
dad and she agreed... november 29th the phone rings and I answer, a woman says ashley and shawn have been in a car accident
and shawns not doing to well..yet she never said how ashley was..we raced to the hospital not knowing if she was alive or
dead..preparing for the worst..Thank god she was alright only 2 broken ankles and a broken femur..but she was alive thats
all that mattered..we were so relieved...shawn had surgey that afternoon for a broken femur and broken ribs and ashley went
into surgery later in the evening..she came through very well they put a rod in her leg and pins in her ankles..she was in
alot of pain..but I made sure to tell them of her addiction so they could maybe give her something beside morphine or whatever
they do in cases of addiction..she was in the hospital for 2 weeks and then she came home..wheelchair,commode,and
call me selfish but ashley was always on the go,and now i had her with me,broken legs ,no access to heroin..I just wanted
my daughter back..but she seemed so sad at times she would sit in her wheelchair and cry and she liked the curtains closed
and the room dark..she had depression and had been on paxil since she stabbed herself,then lexapro,seroquel and after the
accident sometime they put her on klonopin.. I was happy she was in the house but i hated seeing her that way..I
so wished i could take away her pain...
Mid January she started walking around and shawn came and picked her up driving with a cast on his leg..That ticked me
off ...because some people never learn ,he could have killed my daughter 2 months before in the accident, hell he didnt
even have a license..Ashley was going back and forth staying at shawns and then coming back home.. I think she was so confused
she didnt know where she wanted to be..She always said she hated VT and wanted to move to california or nyc...She even said
she wanted to have a baby ,which I quickly discouraged telling her that she had to straighten out her own life before she
could bring another into the world..And now I wonder if I should have said those words to her..maybe if she had had a
baby she would have straightened out and been happier..I dont know there are so many what ifs that sometimes my mind seems
to overload and I just go numb..
February 13th around 7:00pm I saw headlights pull in the driveway it was shawn dropping ashley off, they sat out in the
car for about 10 minutes..then ashley came in and she looked upset..she just kept walking around the house and I asked her
what was wrong and she said she was in a bad mood...I didnt press but damn i WISH i HAD..My daughter kayla and I left for
the grocery store and when we got back I asked my husband where Ashley was and he said she left wth her friend nicole..We
had rented some dvds and I fell asleep on the sofa bed amy husband fell asleep on the other sofa..around 2:30 am feb 14 he
heard ashley banging on the door and let her in..he thought it was strange that she didnt ask how he was feeling..but he doesnt
remember her saying anything..he laid back down and said he head the beep on the phone like she was calling someone..then
he fell asleep..I so wish I had heard her come in,he said I asked what time it was but I dont remember..why didnt she lay
down next to me on the sleeper any other time she would have...Her dad had just gotten home from a 2 week hospital stay because
chemo and radiation had made him really sick..The next thing I knew I heard my husband screaming and I jumped up thinking
something was wrong with him since he had been sick..I kept screaming what what but I couldnt find him..then I looked down
in the basement where the screams seemed to be coming from and he screamed that she hung herself...I couldnt make myself go
down those stairs..I froze..it was like 1988 all over again when I woke up and found my 3 month old son Justin after he died
of SIDS..I called 911 and i dont even remember picking up the phone and then I was downstairs I dont even remember going down
the steps I just remember being at the top not being able to go down but I did.We did cpr on her until the paramedics got
here...Then they told us they were sorry but she was gone..I cant even find words to explain but a part of me died that morning..I
was and still am angry at her for what she did and wonder why she never thought of what this would do to us...if she had waited
just a few more minutes would she have changed her mind...and what bothers me most did she start and slipped or something
and couldnt stop even if she wanted to...i drive myself crazy with all these questions with no answers..not only do we miss
our daughter terribly and deal with her death..we have to live with the hate and anger of the people that got her into drugs,the
people that used her,the people that stole from her,and anyone else that ever hurt her..it almost seems too much to bear at
I get some comfort from the fact that we always let her come home no matter what she had done..we neverstopped loving
her and always forgave..if we had done the tough love thing like many had suggested and not let her back that would
have just been more lost time without her every moment with her was so special..even the bad ones..
About a week after ashley died my husband and I went to the nursing home where ashley had worked and asked to speak with
the head of nursing..we reported the nurse that ashley had told me about and when they asked us his name..they just looked
at each other like they knew i was going to say him..they said he wasnt there anymore and had gone to another facility but
they would report it to the state...and thanked us for telling them..a few days later i got a call from the state and told
them what i knew..But I had to do it for my daughter, because now nobody can ever hurt her again.there is not a day that goes
by where i dont think of her or miss her so much...words cant even begin to express
WE LOVE YOU SWEETHEART