Submitted by: Leigh Burden
My Tribute: MANDY – July 21, 1984 – February 25, 2016
I can’t really let Mandy go without saying a few words about her. Many didn’t know her because she wasn’t around a lot in the past few years.
When people asked about her we always said she was “trying to find herself” which was code for waitressing and taking a few classes. And that was true….but the real truth was there was a drug problem.
I think the world was a cruel place for Mandy. She couldn’t cope. I tell myself there was some kind of an underlying mental illness and she was self-medicating—but that’s just my theory.
We had been begging her to come home for several years, but she wouldn’t…or couldn’t. I don’t know. I think she felt inadequate and felt like she disappointed us. And we were disappointed….but we also loved her and wanted to help.
When a family member has a drug problem, there is not really much one can do….nobody wants to be addicted to drugs and she didn’t want to be either. I think drugs were her escape from it all.
But in mid-December, she called 911 and was admitted to Washington Medstar Hospital with endocarditis. Which is an infection of the heart brought about by drug use.
She spent Christmas and New Years in ICU, intubated and on a respirator. On January 2 she had open heart surgery to replace a faulty heart valve and have a pacemaker installed.
Her physical recovery was pretty rapid after that, but she couldn’t come home because she needed six weeks of IV antibiotics. She was weak, but generally ok. On Feb 10 she was discharged and finally came home.
We thought this must be her wake-up call. She was making plans, talking about returning to college, getting a part-time job, keeping appointments. So we thought things were going well, we thought she was managing….we don’t really know for sure what happened.
I also wanted you all to know a little bit about who she was.
When she was little she skipped everywhere she went. She was strong-willed and always wanted to do her own thing. After four years of Montessori she was so frustrated when her first grade school teacher expected her to sit in her seat!
She was smart, funny, and she could draw. She was an excellent swimmer and diver, a brownie, a girl scout, a dancer. But, as one of her high school girlfriends said….Mandy always wanted more, more more!
Again, she was very bright…almost genius level, she graduated from high school at age 16 by doubling up on classes. She completed about two years of college and her first real job was processing mortgages. She made enough money to get her own apartment and seemed to be on her way!
She was tiny – about 5 feet 2 inches and 110 lbs. And she was very, very pretty with pale blue eyes—-she never really went through an “awkward stage”.
She had “good hair” and liked to change it up a lot…black, brown, red, blond on top and black underneath (which Ken hated), but she always came back to blond.
She loved animals, the beach, amusement parks, and liked to sing in the car. She developed a love of reading as a child, and carried that with her into adulthood. She was a terrible, terrible driver. And she was very, very messy! And she loved, loved, loved her grandmother. They had a deep connection, but even that wasn’t enough.
The essence of Mandy was she always saw the good in others. And when she loved someone, she loved them deeply.
She was a good person and a kind person. She cared about others even when they might not have her best interests at heart.
I think she felt alone in this world….but she was wrong, she was not alone…..and she was loved by many….and she will be missed.
The only thing to hold onto is the hope that she is now finally at peace.