‘I know there is a way to save lives’

  • Cara Moser with a photo she took of her daughter, Eliza Harper, in South Deerfield Thursday. Dec 6, 2018.

Published: 10/13/2019 3:00:09 PM

Editor’s note: Cara Moser’s daughter, Eliza Harper, died last November as a result of an accidental heroin/fentanyl overdose. Here, Cara reacts to a judge's recent federal ruling that Safehouse, a nonprofit aiming to open a first-of-its-kind supervised injection site in Philadelphia, does not violate federal drug laws.

Stream of consciousness or “guidedness?” There’s the hell of living with and loving your addicted child. The pain of watching that child change from that person you’ve known and loved their whole lives into something other. That person who you adore and have such high hopes for their futures.

Then there’s the hell of living without them. The excruciating pain of your broken heart. The doubts of having done all you could have done. The anger at the medical system that profoundly failed them.

When I look back to the worst and scariest days of her addiction, I think how I could have never imagined life without her. Including that part of life that was her hell. Her nightmare of a struggle. The traumas she couldn’t tell me about. Rape. Emotional and sexual abuse. She sat on these horrible secrets for much of her short life.

Tempering the pain with mind-numbing substances. The drugs that can produce euphoria and the ungodly pain of withdrawal. These drugs masked her soul. The child I knew was always there, inside, but she was broken. That mask was not at all who she was, it was scary, ugly and unimaginable at times, but also deeply desperate. She was stuck in a cycle of destruction and survival. She fought for her life.

When I think about her being back home with me, back from her grave, would I want to see her living that painful life again? Would I survive the hopefulness that can often be lost at a moment’s notice? Relapse. Yes! I would do anything to have her back and I would love her the way I always did.

Never looking away and never listening to the naysayers and always working alongside her, in hopes that the life she dreamed of someday would be a reality. A family. A child. Rewarding work. She could do it. She wanted it. She worked hard for it. She deserved it. But she lost everything that day she died alone, at home.

Her baby brother found her on the sofa and tried to breathe precious life back into her already hourslong dead body. He “tasted” her last breath and somehow found it in his 14-year-old soul and mind to feel he was the “lucky one,” because he was the last person to say goodbye and was able to have those last moments with her alone before the emergency crews arrived.

I know I’m not alone in these thoughts and feelings. I also know that there is no excuse for another family member or friend or neighbor or coworker to die from a treatable disorder or a reversable overdose. I know there is a way to save lives. Until all classes, all colors, ALL PEOPLE are provided the medical treatment and interventions they need and deserve, then we owe, as a nation, to throw out the safety net.

A safe place, A SAFEHOUSE, to use drugs under supervision so that overdoses will be reversed. Treatment options will be offered. Spread of disease will be lessened. Acute medical problems will be addressed. Social services will be offered. Lives will be saved.

I can’t have my child back. But I can raise my voice, shout and demand that this pain and suffering and dying come to an abrupt halt. Please, these are our children and loved ones. Hundreds of thousands of people have died. No more excuses! No more overdoses!

Cara Moser lives in South Deerfield.

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