Remembering Kellie Lillehei

My precious daughter, Kellie Kaye Lillehei, was 33 years old when she accidentally overdosed on Heroin & Fentanyl. She died on January 13, 2016 and needless to say my life has never been the same. Kellie had struggled with substance use disorder for a number of years and after several attempts at treatment, she actually experienced recovery and was clean for 3+ years. She had some work done on her teeth and then some on her eyes and each time she was reintroduced to opioids which started the spiral all over for her again. She was supposed to be married the same year that she died and her sister and I had gone with her to get her dress. I stood in David’s Bridal with a death certificate in my hand-as that is the only way you can return an already purchased wedding gown-a month or so after she died and cried with a store clerk that I didn’t even know. Her compassion for my situation was overwhelming. There was no stigma or shame as I stood there with her. She was as sad as I was.

I was blessed to have had an opportunity to live with Kellie while my husband was in Denver and our house was for sale in 2014. We had 6 glorious months together going to meetings (I am in recovery, too) to church on Sundays, cooking together, grocery shopping, going on walks, and rebuilding the relationship between us that had become so strained during her active use. That six months was truly a gift from God that I will always be grateful for.

Kellie was smart, funny, witty, strong-willed, generous, compassionate, beautiful, wise, friendly, kind, and gentle-just to name a few. She deeply loved her nieces and wanted to have her own children one day. She loved her family dearly and we all loved her in return. Kellie was so much more than the disease that took her life. She had so many dreams and was so proud of the work she had done on herself; as was I and everyone that knew her for that matter.

“My dearest Kellie:   I pray that you are at peace now and that the struggles you had are over.  I  miss you everyday and would give anything for one more day with you. I know I will see you again and I hang on to that fact for dear life. Rest well, my baby girl. I love you to the moon and back.”


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