Claire Lajoie was articulate.
She was artistic — an artist and passionate determine skater.
She had a “wicked sense of humor,” which, mixed together with her impeccable timing, introduced laughter to these round her, stated her mom, Muriel Lajoie.
The native of Concord, New Hampshire, was sensible and did properly at school till across the age of 14. It was then that issues began to alter. Claire wrote in her journal that she felt completely different, like she wasn’t the identical as everybody else.
“She had referred to it as a hole in her soul that she was trying to fill with drugs,” Lajoie informed Boston.com.
As a teen, Claire progressed from marijuana to occasion medication, like acid, to cocaine. Eventually she began snorting heroin, and on her 18th birthday, Claire used fentanyl, her mom stated.
“When that happened, she was lost,” Lajoie recalled. “That was it. She was done.”
Claire’s birthdays have been at all times a set off for her, her mom stated. When she was little, Claire used to need to throw events for everybody else on their birthdays, however by no means her personal.
This yr, a day after she turned 22, Claire died of an overdose, her household says.
“I saw her the day before and she looked great,” Lajoie stated. “With this disease you never know when it’s going to call you back.”
Lajoie and her household are sharing Claire’s story with the hope of breaking down the stigma round habit. They are additionally calling for extra post-treatment companies for folks as soon as they’ve gotten out of structured rehab applications.
Before her demise, Claire had been sober for seven and a half months and doing properly at Granite House, a drug rehab prolonged care facility. She moved out of this system on the finish of August when she acquired a job supply and had a possibility for a secure place to reside in Concord.
Granite House was shifting its location to Derry, and he or she wished to stick with her job, Lajoie stated.
Her daughter went from being surrounded by her supportive neighborhood, with construction, to having to depend on herself.
Her daughter was compassionate and empathetic — at all times in a position to acknowledge when somebody was struggling and wanting to assist, she stated. But despite the fact that her household was a couple of miles away, Claire was “loathe to ask for help,” her mom stated.
She’d at all times been that manner.
“She had this uncanny ability to know when you were suffering,” Lajoie stated. “And even when she wasn’t talking with me, if she saw me and I looked a certain way, she’d know. She’d say, ‘OK, what’s wrong? Please talk to me.’… She’d rarely ask for help though. Even as a child, she would always insist that she do everything. ‘My do,’ she used to say. And you couldn’t help her, because she wanted to do it herself.”
For some time Claire appeared to be doing OK on her personal. But she was requested to exit for drinks the week earlier than her birthday, and he or she relapsed with alcohol.
“She recognized that, she called her sponsor, she went and picked up her 24-hour chip,” her mom stated. “The community that knew about it rallied around her and were talking with her and supporting her and they thought she was going to be OK.”
But the next week, a day after her birthday, she died.
Lajoie stated her daughter’s demise has given her a “larger focus” on the systemic points that want consideration associated to the opioid epidemic.
She stated she desires to see extra services that present help, construction, and accountability to those that need to proceed their restoration after leaving a extra intensive program.
“This issue is much larger and has a stigma that no one wants to shine a light on because it appears that the addict was weak, or there was something deficient in the family, that the family did something wrong, that the kids were raised poorly,” Lajoie stated. “Addiction is a disease of mental health. They, the addicts and alcoholics, are trying to mend themselves the only way they know how. And if we educate them and provide the services for them to succeed, they can then help others with the same issues.”
In the obituary for Claire, her household was clear in regards to the circumstances of her demise and her battle whereas celebrating her “soaring dreams and zest for life.”
“Our girl was magic,” they wrote. “She was a light. She was a queen.”
“In every photograph that she was in, you could see the light emanate from her,” Lajoie stated of her daughter. “She was the focal point. She walked into a room and all heads turned to her just because of the energy she exuded. She was such a comfort to people — it didn’t matter if you knew her well or not, you wanted to be around her. She was magnetic.”
Hundreds of individuals turned out for Claire’s wake and repair, Lajoie stated.
On Sunday, Lajoie and her household will hike Mount Kearsarge in Warner together with those that knew and beloved Claire within the restoration neighborhood. It is a “Gratitude Hike,” the likes of which Claire at all times participated in when she was at Granite House.
Everyone walks as much as the highest of the mountain and says what they’re grateful for on the prime.
“It was always at 5:30 in the morning and Claire was always excited to go.,” Lajoie stated. “And we were like, ‘Uh, it’s a Sunday at 5:30.’ But she went on all of them. She loved doing them. She had some great photos on her Facebook page of her at the top, beaming as usual.”
Lajoie stated she and her household are grateful for the outpouring of help they’ve acquired since sharing Claire’s story.
She urged anybody scuffling with habit to by no means hand over and to not be afraid to ask for assist.
Echoing her daughter’s empathy and compassion, she additionally urged folks to look out for clues that their mates, acquaintances, or family members are struggling.
“Check up on one another,” Lajoie stated. “We are a community. We are only as strong as our weakest member. And if someone is challenged, they need to be helped and we should do that because it’s the right thing to do.”