By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Like hundreds of parents, Audrey Richards will be at the Revere Beach Memorial on September 17 at the bandstand on Revere Beach to remember her daughter, Taylor, who died of a drug overdose. It is a solemn occasion to remember those lost their lives to overdose. The Memorial is a time to realize that the opioid epidemic isn’t going away anytime soon, and to realize that the stigma associated with it needs to be the first thing to go.
Audrey has found ways to remember her daughter Taylor, it’s been four years since her beautiful daughter overdosed.
Audrey is sharing her story because she believes everybody deserves a wake up call.
“No one is exempted from this,” she said recently in a meeting room at the Revere Police Department. “She was a regular kid. It happens to kids that have everything going for them. I don’t want people to judge.”
Taylor has a memorial bench in a park in Beachmont.
“I don’t want to go to it but I do,” Audrey said, especially on the occasion of Taylor’s birthday. “It’s been four years since she died.”
Taylor was 24 years old when she died on Aug. 23, 2013, and she held a steady job at the Texas Roadhouse in Everett. She had started her education at the Garfield School in Revere and later graduated from high school in Saugus.
“I miss her advice. She had so many friends,” her mother said.
The loss of Taylor is also felt deeply by her sister, whose young daughter is named for the aunt she will never meet.
She was a dancer from the ages of eight to 18, a two-time dance champ. She paid for her own car and her bills. Taylor enjoyed going to clubs with her friends, she didn’t drink, she had smoked marijuana and somehow began taking Percocets, a painkiller. She was functioning, but she knew the path she was going down.
“I knew nothing until she called me one night and said she needed help,” Audrey said. “She went to detox at 24 years old, that’s when I learned.”
Anyone who knew Taylor also knew that she lived life to the fullest and would do anything for anyone. Despite this, her mother said she was depressed, felt she had no one.
“There is a stigma, a concern to get someone to go to a (12-step) meeting,” Audrey said. “Stigma is a big issue and prevents people from reaching out.”
Getting into detox was another issue, first she was denied at Danvers Detox and then she was admitted.
“I cried all the way home from detox,” Audrey said.
Plans were in place for Taylor to have a Vivitrol (a non-addictive drug to combat opioid addiction) injection once a month. But before they could implant the drug, the recipient has to be opioid-free for 10 days.
It was during this time that Taylor overdosed.
“It was the worst day of my life,” Audrey said. “I will never get over it but I can get through it. I think she was going to do this one more time and she did.”
Taylor was found in a car on Elmwood Avenue by a person walking by in the morning. The man knew Taylor.
“At 8 a.m. the doorbell rang and I knew she was dead,” recalled Audrey, adding Taylor had worked until midnight. When she left she mentioned wanting to get high, despite the concern of co-workers, Taylor left to get high one more time.
“She made a terrible choice to do it one more time,” her mom said.