Submitted by Angela’s mother, Sandy Camilletti

What Angela was like as a child

Angela learned to ski in Vermont when she was 3 years old, a passion that would continue throughout her life as she became an avid skier and snowboarder. She loved the beach, too. One year, we were at the beach and Angela got caught in a riptide. When we realized what was happening, we started to yell instructions to her from the shore. I could see how tired she was, but I yelled to her not to stop swimming. She never stopped, and she made it out eventually.

During senior year of high school, she played the Sugar Plum Fairy in a production of The Nutcracker. At the end of the performance, a little girl came up to her and told her that she loved her costume and that she had loved her dance. Angela took one of her roses and gave it to her. That little girl’s mom has kept in touch with me over the years and has since told me how much it meant to her when Angela gave her that rose.

Angela was also a lifeguard, swim teacher, dancer and dance teacher. She was in school studying criminal justice reform before she died.

When we first learned of her drug use

I was on my way to visit her at college when she called me. She said: “Mom, I need to tell you something.” She told me that two weeks before, at a party, she had been held down and injected with heroin. She had been using since that day. She believed that going to a methadone clinic would fix it. As months went by and Angela came home to visit from college, we knew she was in trouble.

But this was all new to us, and we didn’t know the first thing about getting help or what it all really meant. Her dad and I told her she would not be returning to school. Through a friend, we found a rehabilitation facility in California.

As we sat on the deck, we told her that there was a place for her to go in California. At first, she didn’t want to go. I gave her the phone number and told her this was a call she needed to make herself. Within 24 hours, she and her dad were on a plane. She stayed there for 45 days, and relapsed within three days of coming home. It took another year before she entered recovery.

How our relationship changed because of opioid-use disorder

Everything about our relationship changed when Angela was struggling with opioid-use disorder. During this time, ours became a relationship that had no resemblance to the mother/daughter dynamic we had before addiction came into her life. It became filled with fear, a lack of understanding between us, anger, frustration, without any hope or trust. She went to three rehabs and struggled for three years. It wasn’t until the third rehab that she was able to get into recovery. At the time she passed, she had been in recovery for a year and a half. But the one thing that never changed was our love for each other.

How she would want to be remembered

Angela Bowser-Camilletti

Angela would want to be remembered as a loving big sister, as someone who would always be there for her family and friends, as a strong person and someone who never quit. Her proudest accomplishment was getting into recovery and restoring her relationship with her family. My most vivid memory of Angela was two days before she passed away. She stopped by the house to visit. She was wearing a T-shirt, flip-flops, shorts, and a ring that had been mine and I had given her. I walked her to the door. She kissed me on the right cheek, as she always did, and then turned around and said: “I love you, Mom.” She smiled. I told her I loved her, too, and to be careful. She told me she would and smiled one more time.

If I could say one thing to Angela now, it would be this

I love you. Your dad loves you. Your sisters love you. There has been a hole in my heart and in my soul since you have been gone. I got too comfortable when you were in recovery and didn’t worry as much. I’m sorry I didn’t try to find you the day you passed away.