Reflecting on another Christmas holiday season, without my beloved daughter, Jennifer Reynolds and her precious only son, Trey who is now age 16 years. This is the 8th Christmas without Jennifer in our family and nine years since we have seen Trey. Time has a way of marching on, yet when a child dies, it seems like yesterday that they were here, talking, laughing and sharing hopes and dreams of the future.
December is a hard month, because this is Christmas and also Jennifer’s birthday- Dec. 29th. I can’t help but wonder what things would be like if Jennifer were still here with us. She dreamed of going to St. Petersburg College and attaining her (CAP) license with a goal of a Recovery Coach to help others struggling with addiction. She also was a mother who longed to be with her son, Trey and watch his milestones unfold. I am sure she would be doing both of these things if she were still alive.
Life has a way of going through the twists and turns and sometimes tragedies win, in spite of efforts to attain a better place on the rung of life. This has been the case with Jennifer’s brief life.
I can see that God had a plan for Jennifer’s life, for her son, Trey and for me. I cannot see the whole picture yet, but I can reflect on the eight years since Jennifer departed. I know that Jennifer’s death launched me into a spring board of a mission and advocacy work, that I never had planned on doing. The 13 years of Jennifer’s addiction, was boot camp training for me. It was a lonely, desperate, frightening, broken decade in my life (and Jennifer’s life too). I kept my faith in God and prayed many prayers for Jennifer’s deliverance to this gut wrenching bondage and satanic attack and felt that God would “heal” Jennifer, if I kept praying. The outcome was not what I hoped and prayed would happen. It ended in her death to an accidental overdose to prescription drugs- Jan.15, 2009 in Largo, Florida.
The past eight years and 11 months, I have dedicated my time, energy and focus to address three components in memory of Jennifer’s legacy. They are: improved legislation (to aid families in a life & death crisis of chronic addiction), drug prevention & education. These are key to working on solutions to address the ever growing crisis of addiction & overdose deaths. Since Jennifer’s death I have seen the opioid data prove a steady growth that has flourished from a problem, to a crisis to an epidemic.
I am grateful to every state and federal lawmaker I have been fortunate to work with and every Governor I have had the pleasure of knowing along the way. My life has been enriched from the many coalition groups and new friends I have had the joy and honor to know and work with along my advocacy journey.
My goal was a ten year goal to see what God & I could do together, to minister to other families and make life impacting changes along the way. The journey has lasted almost 9 years now and I am looking forward to see how God wants to use me in the year 2018.
I would hope and pray that I will be reunited with my beloved grandson, Trey and see him graduate from high school. I am working on more legislation in Indiana and a federal bill as well. In the mean time, I will stay faithful to this mission work and faithful to God and see where he leads me.
My wish is that this holiday season, you all have peace, joy & love that only comes from knowing God and a Happy New Year! — Sharon Blair (Jennifer’s Mother)