Submitted by her best friend, Carolina

Who Tanya was

Tanya was someone who enjoyed having her iced coffee in the morning, walking the beach, reminiscing about our younger years because memories were always important to her, and helping others in any way she could. 

We had known each other since we were 14 and were both new at school. She lived on the same street as my friend. We went to school together, and then worked at two jobs together. 

Once we had kids, we were always doing stuff together with them when they were younger. We’d go to the park, roller skating, the movies, the beach and to our favorite Mexican restaurant. 

I’ll never forget…

How Tanya took care of me after my grandmother died. I was raised by my grandmother, and I had no place to live. I was in a really bad place. Tanya took me in and let me stay with her. She never judged me for the way I coped. I was so depressed, but she lifted me up, showed me what there was to live for and encouraged me to move forward. She gave me the motivation to keep living my life.  

She was a beautiful person inside and out

I want her to be remembered as a guiding light, an inspiration, never giving up on others and wanting to bring out the best in people. I admired that she always found the good in people or helped those who needed direction when they were lost. 

My most vivid memory

It was when we went to Aruba on vacation. We were 21 and 22. We stayed at an all-inclusive resort. We had so much fun being young and having no worries. That vacation was always something we talked about frequently, hoping someday we could go back together after our kids grew up. She always wanted to get back to that place of peace and relaxation. It was the only time I was able to get her to go out dancing, and she loved it! She let her guard down and herself shine through without caring what others thought. 

Life got really busy after that, but those times were never forgotten. 

What Tanya was most proud of

Tanya was proud of her babies more than anything. Her girls meant the world to her, and she strived to encourage them to give it their all. She wanted them to grow up happy, successful, and knowing possibilities were endless and failures were something we learn from.

How Tanya became involved in drugs

Tanya was in a few relationships where her boyfriends had substance-abuse problems in one way or another. After she and her boyfriend of 10 years broke up, she wasn’t doing well. Her mom called me to ask me to help her through it. She started dating an old high school friend of ours. He had always been having some kind of substance abuse going on. He had an opioid problem and was in and out of Suboxone clinics. He started stealing her prescription Xanax that she took for anxiety. She would complain that she could not justify why she ran out of her prescription because he was taking them. 

I went out with her one day to eat and have a drink. She started falling over in her seat like she was dozing off, and I asked her what was wrong with her. This is when I found out that she was taking Xanax, and she had taken some that day. I was upset because I didn’t know and told her if I knew she was on that, I would never ask her to go out and have a drink. It wasn’t like her to keep something from me, and I realized that her boyfriend had influenced her in a negative way. He started restricting her time, making sure we didn’t spend too much time together. He was taking Percocets and her Xanax, and taking her money so she had to ask her sister or me for money. That made her feel like a burden. I never wanted her to feel that way.

How our relationship changed

Tanya became more distant, always busy, tired or not feeling good. She started not answering my calls or calling me back, and sent texts instead. Also, if I came to see her, she would disappear for hours or go into her room but not want me to come in like I used to. I thought it was because of her boyfriend. 

I didn’t find out she was taking opioids until after she died. 

What Tanya did to fight opioid-use disorder

Tanya made an appointment in the Suboxone clinic to find a way to help herself. She kept it to herself and never told anyone. She probably felt ashamed about her disease and thought she could fix it on her own without any support. We found the appointment card in her purse. She never made it. She had had the problem a few years, according to her boyfriend, but kept it a secret from everyone, including her mom.

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


She was special to me. I cherish the memories we had, and I will always love her and keep her close to my heart.

If I could say one thing to others, it would be

If you are suffering from opioid-use disorder, it’s important to keep communication open, not feel ashamed, and share it with people who love you. We all have our stuff. 

If you think you know someone who is struggling, you have to do detective work. You have to look beyond what they tell you, because they’ll say everything’s fine. They’re good at that. They need so much support, people to go to appointments with them, keep track of things. It’s hard enough just getting things done, I can’t imagine trying to do everything and trying not to go back to the drugs.