Less than 4 months after losing her 22-year-old daughter to a heroin overdose, a mother from Piedmont is sharing her story in the courtroom, in the hopes of preventing other moms from experiencing similar pain to she is.
“You may not feel like you’re worth it, because you have hit your ‘rock bottom,’ but somebody, somewhere, loves you and cares about you, and if you don’t get help, this is what they’re going to get. This is where you’re headed. This is my daughter’s death certificate,” Claudia Marini said, while she was holding up the document in the Stokes County courtroom Wednesday morning. “This is what your mom, your dad, your grandma, your grandpa, somebody will get if you don’t stop.”
Her daughter, Madison, died on December 29, 2016, in the bathroom of a Taco Bell in King.
“She was 22,” Marini cried. “She had a whole lifetime ahead.”
Many people inside the courtroom were there for drug-related offenses.
“I heard maybe about 80 percent of everyone in here today is here for something drug-related,” Marini said.
This week was the first time Marini had been inside the Stokes County courthouse since weeks before Madison’s death, when she accompanied the girl to a courtroom down the hall after a recent arrest.
“I have my daughter’s hair in a pocket in my pants and I wear the bracelet she had on before she died. This is it. This is real,” Marini said to the crowd, while wearing a locket around her neck containing Madison’s ashes.
Marini says she heard the idea of pre-court drug talks by Kerri Sigler, who’s an attorney in Winston-Salem, who reached out to judges and put Marini in contact with them. Before her talk in Stokes County, Marini had also spoken to another courtroom full of people in Surry County on Tuesday.
“I’ve heard that what it feels like for somebody who’s addicted, is like being in the middle of the ocean, and you’re going under, and you’re trying to catch your breath, and you panic and you feel like you’re going to die,” Marini said “The grief that I feel every day, from losing Maddie, and I know that panic that I feel, and that overwhelming feeling that I’m going to die every day, because I can’t touch her, and I can’t see her and I can’t smell her.”
“I don’t know you, but I care enough about you as a human being to know that your life matters,” she said. “I don’t want anybody in your life to have to carry you around – your ashes around – their neck.”
Her closing remarks were met by broad applause before Marini exited the courtroom out of the side door.
People who had just listened to her message came up to meet her, where some let her know how touched they were by her story; others, asking if she was interested in speaking to school classrooms.
“You might leave here today, and you might tell five other people, you might tell one other person, and then they’re going to tell five other people,” Marini said. “They’re going to tell one other person and we’re going to get this message out.”
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