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Apr-30-2011 22:59TweetFollow @OregonNews
'Strange, isn't it? Each Man's Life Touches so Many Other Lives.'Marianne Skolek Salem-News.com
Title is a line by Clarence the Angel from "It's a Wonderful Life"
(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) - As any parent who has lost a child knows, the anniversary of the death of the child is a reminder of the hole we carry in our hearts every day. My daughter, Jill died nine years ago on April 29. I was fortunate to be Jill's mommy (she never called me mom) for 29 years on earth. I continue to be her mommy while she is in heaven and loving her and keeping her memory alive -- until we are reunited.
Many people know, I started my "Justice Journey for Jill" shortly after her death as a result of prescribed OxyContin. I set out to learn everything I could about the drug and the company who markets it and mass manufactures it - Purdue Pharma.
Within a short period of time, I realized there was criminal activity on the part of Purdue Pharma in their promotion of OxyContin and I connected with government agencies throughout the country to be heard. I soon discovered my "Justice Journey" was not only for Jill -- but for all victims (and their families) of a very greedy and evil pharmaceutical company -- and they needed to have a voice.
I wanted in some small way to become their voice.
In the past nine years, I have been fortunate to talk and meet with parents who will always have unimaginable pain because of their loss -- it has not always been easy to see the hurting these families are experiencing.
Do I feel these families should not be dreading the anniversary deaths of their children as I did yesterday?
You bet I do because all these deaths were at the hands of a pharmaceutical company who lied about the addictive and abusive qualities of OxyContin and still managed to bring in revenue of approximately $10 billion -- with the FDA still refusing to reclassify the drug for "severe" pain only.
Those close to me know that I always say that Jill guides me and never leaves my side. Having a very strong faith and belief in God, I am convinced Jill sends me angels to lift me and to keep me on the journey for justice.
Last summer, Jill sent me an "Infinity Angel" who has been at my side since to encourage me, to love me, to keep my faith strong, to hear my thoughts before I even speak them, and to make me laugh again -- I thank God and Jill every day for my "Infinity Angel."
Yesterday I was restless and, of course, thought of Jill and the nine years since losing her. I decided to take a ride to the beach -- my quiet place to pray and talk to Jill as I stand in the sand facing the peace of the ocean.
Little did I know when I made that decision that I would be sent not another angel -- but three angels.
I brought some purple flowers -- Jill's favorite color was purple -- and walked onto the beach -- past the people sitting in their chairs and over toward the pier where it was quiet. I threw the flowers into the surf and twice they came back to me. As I was talking to God and Jill and watching the flowers get washed back up toward me again, I heard a man's voice say "Is that your flower?"
I looked over and three men in golf shirts and shorts were walking toward me. I replied it was and he asked if I had lost someone. I answered -- "Yes my daughter and today is the 9th anniversary of her death."
One man then asked -- "How are you dealing with the loss of your daughter?" I told him I turned her death into a cause to help others. They asked Jill's name and how she died and they asked my name.
Now here's where if you don't have a strong faith as I do, this may not impact you as it did me. One man said he was a pastor -- the other man was a retired pastor -- I don't know what the third man's profession was -- he never said.
They asked if they could pray with me -- I replied I would love that. They didn't just pray with me -- they encircled me and put their arms around me and the retired pastor delivered the most beautiful prayer asking God to continue to take care of Jill and to guide me in her name.
I said to the retired pastor - "I don't know what people do after a loss who don't have a strong faith." He replied -- "They live their lives in turmoil with no answers -- you have all your answers because of your faith."
I was so touched by these three strangers -- I don't think I will ever forget them. They each hugged me goodbye and I realized it was definitely a "God moment."
Oh and the flowers never washed back up to shore -- why?
Because one man waded way out into the surf and tossed them. I had tears in my eyes as I returned home -- thanking God and Jill for these three wonderful angels who reinforced the strong faith I have -- and it was then I realized I never asked their names.
A bell never rang, but I am convinced these three wonderful strangers who briefly came into my life yesterday and lifted me up -- earned their angel wings.
LP - "Love is like a mirror. When you love another, you become his mirror -- and he becomes yours -- and reflecting each other's love, you see infinity." Leo Buscaglia
Salem-News.com Reporter Marianne Skolek, is an Activist for Victims of OxyContin and Purdue Pharma throughout the United States and Canada. In July 2007, she testified against Purdue Pharma in Federal Court in Virginia at the sentencing of their three CEO's - Michael Friedman, Howard Udell and Paul Goldenheim - who pleaded guilty to charges of marketing OxyContin as less likely to be addictive or abused to physicians and patients. She also testified against Purdue Pharma at a Judiciary Hearing of the U.S. Senate in July 2007. Marianne works with government agencies and private attorneys in having a voice for her daughter Jill, who died in 2002 after being prescribed OxyContin, as well as the voice for scores of victims of OxyContin. She has been involved in her work for the past 8-1/2 years and is currently working on a book that exposes Purdue Pharma for their continued criminal marketing of OxyContin.
Marianne is a nurse having graduated in 1991 as president of her graduating class. She also has a Paralegal certification. Marianne served on a Community Service Board for the Courier News, a Gannet newspaper in NJ writing articles predominantly regarding AIDS patients and their emotional issues. She was awarded a Community Service Award in 1993 by the Hunterdon County, NJ HIV/AIDS Task Force in recognition of and appreciation for the donated time, energy and love in facilitating a Support Group for persons with HIV/AIDS.