A Life Saved And A Life Stolen

My Mother was in Australia last week and I was asking her (and taking notes) about how she (almost) always caught me when I was up to no good.


My Mother was in Australia last week and I was asking her (and taking notes) about how she (almost) always caught me when I was up to no good. I have a daughter of my own now.

Except that one time when I stole her car before I had a license. I never got in trouble for it so I suspected she couldn't prove it.

I was trying to get her to admit how or if she really knew.

What happened was, my parents were out of town and during one of my Grandmother's epic afternoon naps I decided to sneak my Mother's car out of the garage.

As I pulled into my friend Laurie's driveway she wasn't quite quick enough. Her mother, hot on her heels, practically leapt at my window; "Dawn, I didn't know you got your license?" (This would have been big news).

My stomach turned to ice and I will never forget that moment. It was like being interrogated in a movie. I looked her right in the eye and lied.

"I just got it," I replied, trying to be vague and casual.

Laurie's Mom raised an eyebrow but appeared satisfied enough to let us go. Where you ask? To buy candy at the local pharmacy. We might have shared a cigarette. I can't really remember.

When the story came up my Mom asked if Laurie and I kept in touch I said; "No, but I should look her up soon."

A week later I learned she was found dead on her bathroom floor, weeks before her 35th birthday. I never got to contact her.

The car jacking story perfectly encapsulates how dangerously innocent we were back then; ballsy, stupid yet not (too) jaded- we went to buy sour patch kids for Christ's sake. Definitely not worth getting caught over. Well maybe I'm speaking for me because even at a young age Laurie was skeptical, smart, opinionated. She kept a close circle. I always admired that about her.

Laurie died of a drug overdose. And before you judge her, know that she once saved me from a similar fate.

It was another stupid thing I did as a teen. Mom was out of town and Dad was supervising. He agreed to let me have a small party. Two of my mates acquired fake ID's, a gallon of Gin and a gallon of Vodka.

We were sitting in my bedroom drinking Gin and Juice like our Rap idols (what else would suburban white kids do on a Saturday night?) I decided to kick the party up a notch and snag some attention by challenging the boys to a chugging contest. Right out of the bottle, no juice. Things got real messy from there.

I remember someone breaking up the party after I started vomiting. They tried to put me into bed but I continued to throw up.

I would spend the next 8 hours or so on my bathroom floor, violently ill, with Laurie by my side.

She spoke to me soothingly, held back my hair, fed me sips of Pepto Bismol, stripped me down to my underwear when my Dad instructed her to throw me in the shower. I whimpered, puked, called out for my ex boyfriend. It was pathetic. She never said a word to anyone.

I know how it sounds, you're probably thinking it's simply a right of passage- we all have that 'one time' when we are inexperienced with alcohol. But I swear to this day- I almost died that night. I could feel the reaper breathing down my neck. If I wanted to give up I could have. It scared the shit out of me so I fought like hell even though every time I opened my eyes my stomach heaved.

I woke up on my bathroom floor with a pillow and blanket. My skin was grey and I had chipped off part of a front tooth. But I made it.

I know she didn't leave my side until I was completely safe. I doubt she slept at all until she got home. But that's how she was. She always tried to save everyone around her. Never herself though, never herself.

We all do foolish things for various reasons. Sometimes we get away with them, sometimes we get saved and sometimes we don't.

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8 comments on “A Life Saved And A Life Stolen”

  1. Oh Dawn this news must be so hard to hear for you right ?
    Especially sharing those experiences in your formative years. However, your journeys are your own and I am sure there is a purpose to your direction now. Sending love and healing your way. Xx Sarah

  2. Dawn...did not know you were such a rip during those years? Gut wrenching material and, as always, written masterfully. I'm glad she was there for you. We all are. I hope her family has the chance to see this because it is incredibly therapeutic for others to read. PEACE

  3. Oh my gosh, thank you for making me smile! I sure was a rip. An instigator and a naughty little thing...I still got good grades though so maybe everyone thought I was a goodie two shoes. Nope. And I wouldn't change a thing...except I thought that more of my friends parents liked me when really they warned their kids to stay away from me (or so I've learned in the last few years but I can completely understand why.)

  4. Sarah, thank you so much for your kind words. It's been interestingly painful to recollect but I'm trying to be braver and more honest with myself and with what I share. Life is not always pretty but the more exposed I am the braver I seem to get. It's not easy but totally worth it. xoxo

  5. Heart breaking. I am so sorry to hear you lost a friend and that such a wonderful young lady lost her life too soon. I swear, blogging is like therapy and just writing this must have been so difficult, but at the same time, nice to remember her and get it all out on 'paper' so to say.

  6. Oh Kristen, I'm sure you get it- the blogging being therapy thing. It SO is. At first I didn't want to write about this, then I wanted to write it but not publish it. I changed my mind again because I felt like I owed it to her, to myself, to share this with others. xoxo

let's hang on the 'gram
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Dawn Rieniets is both a visual artist and brand copywriter. She uses her MA in English, journalism and sales background to craft engaging brand identity copy for small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) globally.

Dawn exhibits artwork independently and with groups; Thou Art Mum and Melbourne and Victorian Artists (MAVA). In her online store, you can find original pieces, wall art prints, and other home decor. A few times per year she accepted personalised and sentimental art commissions for clients.

Dawn creates out of her home studio in Wurundjeri country, the Northern Suburbs of Melbourne.
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