Michele Yeo Venezia

Submitted by: Tiffany Roy
Born: 1985
Died: 2014
My Tribute: This is the story of my Michele. In life, there are two types of relationships. Some relationships are a result of an active choice, you seek that person out and choose to spend your time with them because you enjoy them. These are friendships. Then there are those relationships that life chooses for you. You were destined by forces unknown to live life together. This is family. Michele was my family. I remember Michele in my life as far back as my memories go. She was a combination of the oldest child in her family of 4 (the family of my father’s best friend) and the youngest child in mine (I had 2 younger sisters-we were born 82,83,84 and Michele came in January of 85). She was an outgoing brat. Always around, always picking a fight, refusing to be ignored. We once fought so much in the car on the Fourth of July on our way home from a fireworks display that we made her mother cry. Her mother CRIED we bickered so much. Like sisters. We grew up in middle class families. Our dad’s liked to fish, so we fished together. We all played softball. It was a wonderful childhood and I loved Michele long before I ever had a choice in the matter. She was family.

With age, Michele grew more and more beautiful. It was impossible not to be aware of her presence, her smile would light up any room. She had a loud, booming laugh. I think this will be the thing I remember most vividly about her, her laugh. With high school came boys and parties. She was just a fun person to be around, and as we aged, we stopped bickering and became more like real sisters. We stood shoulder to shoulder in fist fights, friends of hers became friends of mine. I went on to college and Michele and my two sisters stayed in high school. Life progressed and the party eventually stopped, but not for Michele. She was young and beautiful, and her party continued on until it was clear her party was a problem. And her problem continued on until it was clear she was no longer my Michele.

Sometimes I would see the side of her that most resembled my Michele. These glimpses of my old Michele became fewer and father between. The rest of the time she was someone unfamiliar, wasn’t funny, seemed aloof. It got so I spent most of our time trying to figure out if she was high or not, she didn’t seem interested in me, always distracted. It was these glimpses of my old Michele that kept me coming around, hoping things would get better, hoping I could reach her. She married a wonderful man who loved her, they had a daughter. I thought this would be the change she needed, surely the strength of a mother’s love would be stronger than this drug. But even that wasn’t enough. I watched her family struggle, I watched her husband and his family struggle and I struggled myself. I struggled not to enable her, I struggled to make her see. So many loved ones fought so hard for so long. We wanted to believe she could be trusted, she wanted to be better. My old Michele was slipping away, and I was desperate to have her back. This new Michele used my love for my old Michele against me. She would tell me she didn’t want to be like that anymore, and she would mean it. But she would always go back and I resigned myself to the fact that she was gone long before today. But this did not lessen the pain of her loss, and it did not stop the rush of memories of my old Michele and our happy times.

In contemplating other devastating losses I have encountered, I have come to put these losses in two categories. On one hand, I have experienced losses that I mourn mostly for myself. These might be grandparents or loved ones who have lived long and fruitful lives, living to a ripe old age. These people have celebrated many birthdays and weddings and milestones. I am sad as a result of my selfish need to have that person in my life because I’ll miss them, and my life will not be the same without them. In looking at long, full lives, it’s hard to feel sad. Then there are times when I mourn for the lost. These are young lives cut short, those with so much life to live and experience. Here I mourn what could have been, what should have been and the unfairness of that tragedy. Today I find myself in a new state of grief, in a class all her own. For her young, beautiful daughter who I pray will remember her mother, and so many loving family and friends for whom 29 years were simply not enough, I am sad because I’ll miss her and I am sad for all she’s missing, my Michele.

Jeff Cullen

Submitted by: Gary Cullen
Born: 1981
Died: 2008
My Tribute: Jeff died from an overdose after a long struggle with substance abuse. He died from a disease and will always be remembered for the loving person he really was.

Andrew Moe

Submitted by: Frances Herbert
Born: 1983
Died: 2012
My Tribute: My little brother was a wonderful, kind man who would have given someone the shirt off his back. He had struggled with drugs since he was in middle school. Our childhood was filled with abuse, neglect and drug use. He first started on marijuana and alcohol then on to meth. He was in and out of rehab centers and jail for the last 12 years of his life. He overdosed alone on October 16th 2012 after being clean for a few weeks. He was working at a church and attending his NA meetings, trying to find hope. He was left alone for the weekend and was supposed to be hanging out with his sponsors. He only met his only nephew once.

Andrew Todd Moe would have been 25 years old today.

Now all the pain and struggles are gone, hopefully your life in the everafter his filled with strength and peace.

Bergen Dyer Fernwalt

Submitted by: Bonnie Scott
Born: 1983
Died: 2012
My Tribute: Bergen lost his fight with addiction at the age of 29. He was the funniest, sweetest pain in the butt I ever knew. I will miss my only child every day of my life. “Tell me a story about Daddy” are common words in my house now. I love you, Bergen. Mom

Terri Renee Hickman

Submitted by: carolyn Wilkerson…..mother
Born: 1964
Died: 2014
My Tribute: My only daughter and oldest child.She was smart ,funny and loved by all that knew her.I will always have a piece of me missing,I loved her so much! Terri had ovarian cancer when she was 38 and that began her addiction to pain pills.She tried so many times to get off them ,but they are so addictive she couldn’t beat it.She beat the cancer but the pain pills beat her.Such sadness I’ve never known.I don’t think I can survive this. My life is torn apart from her death.I hope and pray I never see another one of my kids on life support,I can’t get that picture out of my mind.It’s driving me crazy,literally.She has 2 grown children and 3 grandchildren,boththeir parents died within 2 months and 9 days of each other from drugs.Such a loss for her kids.How is this ever going to end?

Courtney Layton

Submitted by: Laurie Layton (Momma)
Born: 1/89
Died: 3/12
My Tribute: My beautiful daughter Courtney Layton died of a heroin overdose in March 2012 at 23 years old. She was my only daughter. We did not even know she was using drugs. I knew she smoked pot, that was it. How could I not have known. Well she was away at college and perhaps when she came home she hid it well. All I know is that she was home for Christmas and happy and died in March. The coroner report said there were only two needle marks on her arm. She had just started using and she died. She didn’t even have a chance to go to rehab. So my message is it only takes once. Please don’t use. I miss my baby every minute of every day of my life.


Submitted by: Anne
Born: 1993
Died: 2013
My Tribute: Jacob was a loving, sensitive and caring young man. He loved to play his drums and strum his guitar. Truly enjoyed music and life. His addiction started with prescription percocets and began a battle that ended December 22 2013 from a heroin overdose. He wanted to be clean and went through 3 rehabs, the last one he remained clean for 5 months. Addiction is a disease that can happen to anyone. Something needs to be done to stop how easily doctors prescribe pain pills and the pharmaceutical companies that are making millions of $$. The sad truth is almost all heroin addiction starts with prescription pain pills. No one should ever have to endure this loss but also the stigma of shame should not exist nor judgement. No one who has lost their life to this disease is any less significant than any other human being whom has passed away for other reasons.. He is now an angel counting stars and will shine in my heart forever.

Greg Hottman

Submitted by: Julie (Greg’s Mum)
Born: 1979
Died: 2013
My Tribute: I lost my only child, Greg 2/8/13. He was released from rehab and 24 hours later, he was found a block away and had died from a Heroin OverDose. Forever 33…
Remembering you is easy,
I do it every day.
It’s just the HEARTACHE of losing you,
That will NEVER go away.

Your MUM!

Tracey Thompson

Submitted by: Carolyn Thompson
Born: 1972
Died: 2013
My Tribute: Our daughter Tracey was a wonderful kind human being. She would do anything to help others. We lost her to a drug overdose on jan 3rd. Three days before her 42nd birthday. She has 3 beautiful children who she loved very much. Her depression was overwhelming and as a result she went from Rx to street drugs. Our baby overdosed while out of town. I never got to tell her good bye.

Jenna Caryl Bedau

Submitted by: Cathy M Bedau
Born: 1988
Died: 2011
My Tribute: Jenna passed away alone in our home on April 11 2011. She overdosed on Heroin after 41 days of rehab. She had an infectious laugh, was a loyal friend, my only daughter and my friend. I miss her every day, and believe I always will. 22 years is not enough time.