Dear Liz – By Gabriel Rheaume



Dear Elizabeth,

I didn’t know you, but I’ve been thinking about you for the past week, since you came up missing. I was following the story – and so was the rest of Michigan. I saw a picture of you with my friends at an NA convention over the winter. I thought you could probably be my friend too. When a drug addict comes up missing, any number of things could happen. I was hoping you were just hiding out in some bad neighborhood in Detroit, which is the best case scenario, but sadly that was not the case. They found your body today. You know this because you were watching and waiting when they finally found you. You were watching and waiting while your sister flew in from out of town to look for you. You were watching and waiting when your family and friends posted “Missing” flyers on telephone poles. You were watching and waiting when memes flooded the internet. The whole Michigan recovery community watched and waited too; waited for you to come back to the rooms, waited for you to come back and surrender, we waited to hug you again.

Elizabeth, maybe it’s selfish that I want to talk to you. You have friends and family and people from all over who love and care about you, but I wish you could sit down with me and tell me what happened, because I’ve been clean for over 13 months and I go to recovery conventions too. It wasn’t long ago that I was in treatment and started going to meetings, and I keep on seeing my friends week after week turn into Facebook memorials. Liz, I feel such pain and sorrow in my heart and my mind for you and your family and I just want to know what I can do so I don’t have to die too. I was addicted to heroin, crack, xanax, and alcohol for over ten years; woke up on my floor alone, woke up in the hospital, woke up in my car with a  needle hanging out of my arm and I just can’t fathom why I’m still alive and you aren’t. Believe me, it’s not because I deserve it.

Liz, I never met you but I’ve been reading about you for the past week and I think you would’ve been my friend. I wanted to write you last week and tell you its okay to come back. I wanted to tell you that everyone makes mistakes. People relapse, people lie, people get into fights, but you got to come back. Liz, I know you will never get this letter, but, I believe you’re in a better place and you can hear all the kind words people are saying about you. They talk about your warm heart and how your presence brings joy. Maybe you can see the pain in my face as I’m writing this to you. Liz, I know I never met you, but I kind of feel like I knew you. I don’t think I will ever forget you. I never got to say hello and I’m sorry that I have to say goodbye.

With ever-loving care and compassion,

An addict named Gabe


About Gabriel Rheaume

Gabriel Rheaume is a word artist, tree lover, and a person in long term recovery. He has been published in print and various online sources. He is from Michigan and was born in 1982. Gabriel has a bachelor's degree in English from Wayne State University, in Detroit.
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  1. This is beautiful, well said. Thank you for sharing it with the rest of us. I wish she’d had a chance to read it.

  2. Gabriel- I am the mom of a 30 year old addict. She is my daughter, Amanda . I have custody of her daughter, Summer. I’ve had her almost since birth, she’s now 10. I wish I could convince my daughter to read your letter, a letter from a stranger to a deceased girl, who lost her life unnecessarily . If only she had seeked help. I have been trying with Amanda for 15 years. I keep wondering what stops her from getting help, like Liz, and others, like you seek and find help and live your life happily day by day. I’m proud of you, because I know the hell you suffer. I am still proud of my daughter because I know she is an angel bound by the chains of fentanyl and crack. My life of watching and not knowing if she is dead or alive is killing me. Summer wants her mom, even though she doesn’t know her. She cries, I cry. And I wait with a broken heart. For the call to identify her ematiated body. The body of my baby angel. And then what??? I would like to follow your recovery and be here should you need support. You should be proud of yourself…I am proud of you!

  3. It’s beautiful. Rest in peace Elizabeth.
    God bless you Gabriel ❤️

  4. Beautiful words from a beautiful soul.
    My story…..

    Stay strong!

  5. This is beautiful and perfect Gabe. Thank you for writing. Never stop! You would have liked my son too. He was one of the best people I know. He died of this disease last November. Keep choosing life…your people need you to live. ❤️

    • Thank you for reading Terri. I am really sorry about your son. This disease is taking a lot of amazing people from this world.

  6. The power of kindness and compasion ! You have and will continiue to touch so many that need to hear your words. You have a gift in your writting ability Gabe and it is wonderful that you are using it to help inspire and heal. Continued sucessess and respect to you and your work. Uncle Greg

  7. Dear Gabe,
    Thank you for writing this. I was one of many that were blessed to have known Liz. I was in rehab with her in 2014. We became good friends, then lost touch for a bit but the week before she went missing I ran into her again. She drive me so I did not have to carry my packages so far. I am bless to know you personal also. So many friends that I have now, I would not know if I did not have this disease. I hate this disease, but I love so many of the true friends it has brought into my life. As you are one of them.

  8. my heart hurts ready this but at same time so glad i found u online. i feel this is where my recovery now begins. thank u Gabriel

  9. Thank you so much Kathy 🙂

  10. Very beautiful story

  11. This was beautiful. I am sorry for your struggle, I only know what it is like from the family member of an addict. I am still in the crying stages but happy he is still alive. I pray we are having success and hope we stay on the positive side from now on. I hope I never have to bury a child. I hope something positive comes from my son as it seems perhaps it may have from you. You give me hope, so thank you.

    • Thank you for reading Ang. I hope for you and your son he’s reached the point where enough is enough and lives a life of recovery. My life has improved 1000 fold in the past year, and the opportunities for me continue to grow on a regular basis. I have so much gratitude for life today. I just feel like I have a brand new life. I’ve been to concerts, sporting events, spend time baking, taking yoga, very active in the recovery community, and volunteer at the soup kitchen. I am trusted at my job, my home, and the church that I run a young people’s AA meeting. I have dignity, respect, and simply enjoy my life. I’m not sure where you’re son’s at in his addiction or recovery. But recovery is possible. Thank you for reading.

  12. Avatar
    Gabriel Rheaume

    Thank you for you words and support, Margaret 🙂

  13. Gabe,
    You have been in my heart and prayers for a long time. You will continue to be. This letter shows me that God has a special job for you.
    Liz has gone from our earthly presence, but your words,here, and some you havent spoken yet will reach out to others and make a difference.

    God bless you and all who you touch and pray for. Ill hold them in my heart and prayers too

  14. Avatar
    Joann Bunyon Herbert

    GOD bless your heart. I was going to read your letter on video for my women’s sobriety group, I feel it would touch them in a way they have never been touched.
    Giving all credits to you and Elizabeth. I will facebook you. I am in the midst of completing my first book called “Liar Liar Doctor on FIRE”.
    I would like to put this in it with your permission.
    My personal number should you ever need or desire to talk. 856 701 1933.
    GOD bless your heart.
    Joann Bunyon

  15. Thank you very much Luke. I really appreciate the comment.

  16. Absolutely beautiful.

  17. This really hit my heart.. Beautiful, Gabriel! Rest in peace, Elizabeth

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