I was blessed to have one child; a beautiful, sweet, and loving daughter who meant the world to me.

Logan Larue’s smile would always melt my heart and the hearts of others whom she met. For many years, it was just Logan and I living as mother and daughter, so we created an unbreakable bond that was likely unique to people in our situation. Then, by the grace of God, I met a wonderful man who became my husband and we merged into a family with our four children.

Unfortunately, fate would strike a cruel blow to our idyllic plans. This blow was so devastating that not one of us would fully recover.

Between Logan’s junior and senior years in high school, we started to notice changes in her friends, behavior and personality. We really thought that this was just a normal teenager transition phase, where low self-esteem, peer-pressure and the need to be accepted become challenges.

However, Logan slowly started to turn into someone I did not even know and withdrew from family activities. It then became apparent that she had made some bad choices and was addicted to drugs. After recognizing the addiction, we sought help and enrolled her in treatment programs for substance use disorder.

This has been a horrible journey that I would not wish anyone to endure. Not being able to prevent a loved one from hurting herself is counter intuitive to everything I ever experienced as a wife, mother, daughter and sister. 

I felt helpless and could not control Logan’s fight against her addiction, yet I continued to try.  What is worse is that I knew Logan did not want this disease and never had the goal of becoming addicted.

Recovery is possible and is often accomplished, but the fight against addiction is a daily battle and a lifetime struggle for many. We must also recognize that many times there is nothing that we can do to save people from substance use disorder until they are ready. Trust me when I say that the Serenity Prayer isn’t just for those in recovery, it’s also for those of us who have to recognize what we can and cannot control.

On Jan. 25, 2018, I woke up and went about my business like any other day. Logan had always had problems sleeping, so it wasn’t uncommon for her to sleep in. So I just thought I’d leave her alone that morning. Around noon, when I still hadn’t seen her, I started to get concerned, so I went to check on her.

I looked into her room and she appeared as if she was just lying there sleeping peacefully.

That is until I rolled her over and saw her lifeless body. 

That is the moment my world came to a screeching halt.

Thoughts of guilt immediately started racing through my mind. Was she crying out for help and I could not hear her?

Why didn’t I go check on her earlier? Could I have saved her?

The image of her face at that moment in time will forever be burned into my mind and I’ll live with those unanswered questions for the rest of my life.

I cannot put into words the amount of pain this causes a mother and family. The sleepless nights, tears, self-accountability and feelings of others constantly passing judgment against you are impossible to describe. The rage and vengeance to hold those associated accountable are probably only curtailed by the law itself.

After 2 1/2 years of grieving that will surely continue, I’m now taking my own steps to recover from the loss of a loved one who was closer than anyone could have ever be in a lifetime. She was my baby.

I’m sharing my story as part of the healing process. I have been fortunate enough to meet and become part of the family at Cambria County Drug Coalition. The coalition has many great committees of people from across the community who really want to help others who are struggling with substance use disorder.

It has many resources for families struggling with a loved one’s addiction. Had I found the coalition and its members years ago, then maybe my daughter would still be here and I would not be writing this article today.

I refuse to allow Logan’s death to be in vain. Now I will become her voice, and this is the message I share with you today. Every person that dies from this horrific disease is someone loved. For those of you who are unfortunate enough to have to dig deep into your soul and shed many tears writing something like this, reach out.  For those of you who are fortunate enough to never have to go through such traumatic experiences, please do not pass judgment on those of us who have.

In honor of International Overdose Awareness Day, the Cambria County Drug Coalition will be holding a memorial service at 7 p.m. Aug. 31.

This event will be streamed live on the coalition’s Facebook page from Point Park in downtown Johnstown and @CambriaCountyDrugCoalition. An added element of the ceremony will be the illumination of the historic Stone Bridge in purple, the color that signifies awareness of overdose and its effects, the loss of someone cherished, and support to those undergoing grief.

Sharon Colledge resides in Breezewood.

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