Who is Sierra? And, what is her story?
June 27, 2014 a young woman was found naked, beat-up and lying on the side of the road near a wooded area in Warren, Ohio. And, it was clear she was thrown out of a car like a bag of garbage. This young woman was not an empty McDonald's bag. She was my daughter. And, her name is
Sierra Renee (Giovannone) Roberts.
But who was she before she was thrown out like garbage? She was everybody's true friend. She was the girl who gave the best heartfelt hugs that emitted explosive, loving energy. She was the girl who loved people so much that she made sure everyone knew they were important and special. She was the girl who inspired and encouraged others. She was the soccer player who gave opposing teams nightmares, and the beauty who modeled a Manhattan runway at 14 years old. She was someone's idol and someone's hero. From the time she could talk, she was the one who in a loving and positive way, permanently touched the lives of many every day.
She was SOMETHING to EVERYONE, and to ME,
she was EVERYTHING.
She was the little girl who would cry if she saw a dead animal on the road, or if one of her friends got physically/emotionally hurt during school recess. She was the teenager who, with tears in her eyes, gave the Subway sandwich (she couldn't wait to eat) to the beaten, homeless man sitting on a bench just feet outside the restaurant. She was the young adult, who while working the cash register at the grocery store, stopped ringing in the order of a mean-spirited woman to inform her that her loudly rude, ignorant comments about the smell of the poor, homeless guy standing behind her in line were unnecessary. And, that she would not finish ringing her up until she apologized. Yes, I was always so proud to call her my daughter.
She was the 9-year-old little girl who decided to bale hay all summer long to save up her money so she could buy a horse. And, the 10-year-old little girl who never forgot that because she took initiative to earn and work for a horse, received one as a Christmas gift that year. Thus, she always worked hard to contribute toward the luxuries she wanted, such as paying for her own cell phone bill and car insurance all while still being in High School, making the honor roll and excelling as an
All-Star athlete. Yes, I was always so proud to call her my daughter.
She was the special cousin who gave so much of her heart that sparked my nephew, Ramsey to write a heart-wrenching, farewell letter to express just how big of an impact Sierra had on him and what a void the world will have without her in it, with statements like the following:
I could always count on you; you taught me the real
meaning of family. No matter what happened you were
always by my side. I feel like you were the sun for me. ...
You are such a great person, loved by everyone.
Losing you is the most difficult thing I will ever face. ... I,
Ramsey will NEVER forget how beautiful, sweet and good you were.
My heart bleeds forever. ...
She was the special friend who received multiple good-bye letters from friends with statements like the following:
Sierra has a special place in all of our hearts.
Sierra was the sweetest girl I’ve ever known.
She was so silly, could make anyone laugh. I’m sure any one of us here could go
on-and-on with Sierra stories. ...
She loved her family so much; and, they loved her. ...
Sierra loved the Lord, loved going to church, and she loved
praise and worship. ... I’ll miss you and think of you the rest of my life.
Not a day will go by that I won’t see your smile. ... And those hugs.
Sierra gave the best hugs. ... If it wasn't for Sierra's encouragement,
I wouldn't be where I am today. ...
The friends' big Loss list is never ending.
Yes, I was always so proud to call her my daughter.
Who was Sierra? She was everything good. She was the special daughter who would create beautiful cards, and draw pictures to show me how much she appreciated and loved me (even in her twenties). She was the daughter who was never too old to snuggle with her mama. She was the child who kept me laughing all the time with her silly statements, faces and antics. She was the beautiful soul who believed butterflies were gifts from heaven, since they would often land and just hang out on her arm for long periods of time. She was the best, and would leave me notes that said "I appreciate how you've always been there for me no matter what. I wouldn't trade you for any other 'Mushee'" (her term of endearment for me). She was such a special child and my little buddy. Yes, I was always so proud to call her my daughter.
So what happened? When Sierra was 15 years old her scoliosis had progressed so much that she had a 67 per cent curvature in her spine. This progression required an extremely painful, spinal surgery that left her with metal rods the length of her entire thoracic region of her spine. She was placed on strong opiates for pain for four months. Unbeknown to anyone, Sierra never stopped taking the opiates once the prescription abruptly ended. She started buying them from high school students. Because she was such a good child, still playing soccer, still getting good grades, still working, still the most compassionate child she had always been, there were no signs. She went on to graduate high school and attend college. All the while, she was still taking opiates.
Unfortunately, what happens when a person is prescribed opiates for an extended time period, he/she's body is physically addicted to the pain medicine and at the slightest decrease of intake, the body will go into unbearable pain. And an even bigger problem is that once the body becomes immune to the dosage, the person taking the opiates must keep increasing the dosage in order for it to work. The amount of pain pills needed to contain the person's pain becomes so much so that the person can no longer afford the addiction. Thus, the person starts buying heroin because it is stronger and cost less (in the beginning). This is what happened with Sierra. And, for one year she was able to use heroin and continue to work and go to college successfully. Inevitably, regardless of how good, successful and together a person is, increased opiate use will cause a person to lose control of his/her life. Sierra was no exception to this rule.
Sierra tried so hard to get rehabilitated and to reverse the addicted mindset that took control of her life. She sincerely tried and kept voluntarily going into sober living homes and looking for more help, for better rehabilitation residences, for anything that could release her from that inner prison. She wanted delivered from it all. They all failed her. The facilities were being ran as strictly a business for financial gain. Plus, awful things happened to her at these facilities. The only time she did well was when she was in a faith based facility, but even that facility was charging me $1, 500.00 a month just for her to stay there. If she needed anything extra, I had to come up with a way to pay for it, which meant I averaged spending around $2,500.00 a month. But, I was going to pay whatever it took since she was truly fighting for her life. She worked so hard at the odds against her. Yes, I was always so proud to call her my daughter.
She was sober for 11 months when she revisited a relationship with an ex-boyfriend (who was abusive and still using heroin). She was even sober up until that Wednesday she went missing. By Friday Sierra was gone. And as people drove for hours, came from different states, waited outside in a line that extended all the way out to the road in 90 degree weather with just 2 days notice of her funeral (approximately 700 people arrived), I realized that through it all she maintained her good heart and soul. And when her probation officer came through the line uncontrollably sobbing, grabbed both my arms and said "I need you to know that for the short time I knew Sierra, she made me a better person. She made me a better person." I was more proud of my daughter than I ever was for any of her accomplishments before her drug addiction.
She was so much more than any name society gives to people who become addicted to substances. She was not to be defined by the word "addict." Her mistakes, especially ones brought on from circumstances she never asked for, wanted or deserved, do not define who she is. The sincerity of her heart does.
No, she was definitely no piece of garbage. She was a
good-hearted person and my whole world.
Sierra was SOMEONE to EVERYONE.
And NO ONE was a NOBODY to her.
And yes, I am still always so proud to call her my daughter.