I got pregnant when I was twenty-one years old. I was with the man (I thought at the time) that I was going to spend the rest of my life with, and though she was a bit of a surprise, we were very excited to be growing our family. I was married when I was twenty to a man seven years my senior. We were married two and a half months after we met, and conceived on our honeymoon. I had always wanted to be married for several years before bringing in a new little life, but he was very religious and wanted to start having kids immediately. Even though my plan was pushed aside, the beautiful new baby girl that entered our life was so worth it. She was a true miracle.
A year and a half after she was born my husband left us. Shortly after Aliya was born he had started drinking. There were many moments where I did not know where he was, as he would not return home from work. He spend hours upon hours at the bar, and blew through most of our money. The amount of money that we were spending to support the family and his drinking habits caused many arguments. Finally, he just left us.
Fast forward sixteen years, Aliya and I were still living in that same tiny house. I did not remarry, nor did I have any other kids. I did end up going from a stay at home mom to working tree jobs to support the two of us. I spent my days working as a secretary, evenings as a waitress and Saturdays tutoring fourth graders in math. I was unable to spend as much time with Aliya as I would have liked. As an almost seventeen year old, she spent most of her time either with friends or by herself. I felt as though we had grown apart, but I knew if I stopped or took a break all of the plates I had been spinning for so long would just fall to the floor. Instead of checking in with her emotionally, I checked in the refrigerator to make sure there was enough food, made sure she had all of her hair products (she had a favorite kind of shampoo and conditioner), made sure she always had clean clothes to wear, and did not intrude on her privacy.
In retrospect, I wish I had snooped even just a little bit. Her door was always closed when she wasn’t home, so I rarely went into it. I never read her diary, nor did I look at her phone or emails. I did not realize that Aliya had fallen in with the wrong crowd. She spent a lot of time away from home, but so did I—so I did not think much of it. I knew that her father had struggled with alcoholism, so I made sure to keep no alcohol in our house.
I did not know that Aliya’s best friend, Liberty, had direct access to as much alcohol as she wanted. Apparently, Liberty’s brother would buy Liberty and all of her friend’s alcohol. I had never told Aliya that her father had struggled with alcoholism because I wanted to protect her from that part of our lives. She was too young to remember, so why put her through that sadness? Towards the end of her senior year in high school I had barely seen her. I was nervous about paying for college so I had taken up more waitressing shifts. I also knew that she would prefer to sleep at and spend time with her friends anyways. One Saturday night I received a phone call from Liberty. She was slurring her words and was very difficult to understand. I decided to hang up and I drove to her house, even though it was around two o’clock in the morning.
When I arrived, the lawn looked like there had been a wild party, as there were empty bottles and little plastic shot glasses strewn about. I hurried into her house and saw Aliya lying on the couch, her hair was partially covering her face and her arm was limply hanging off the side. I quickly shifted into “go” mode and called the police. They called an ambulance, and I grabbed water and started trying to wake her up. She would not move and her breathing was erratic. I grabbed her purse and shoved her shoes into the bag. The ambulance came and took us to the hospital. Aliya had alcohol poisoning. She first went into a coma and then died. She had a blood alcohol level of 0.43. She weighed 117 pounds, which means she had to have drank upwards of ten drinks in a short period of time. I could not, and am still unable to fully comprehend how I could lose the two most important people in my life to alcohol.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, reach out to us today. You don’t have to go through this alone.