April 26, 2023

Angela Kusch - Surviving Three of Her Siblings

CONTENT WARNING: Please note that this episode contains depictions and stories of siblings lost by suicide, homicide and/or domestic violence. We understand that some people may find these triggering, activating and/or disturbing. Angela is the...

CONTENT WARNING: Please note that this episode contains depictions and stories of siblings lost by suicide, homicide and/or domestic violence. We understand that some people may find these triggering, activating and/or disturbing.

Angela is the oldest sibling of five children and she became a surviving sibling 20 years ago when her brother Nicky passed. Nicky’s story begins after he was in a severe car accident and developed an addiction from being on strong medications for pain. He was in and out of rehab a few times until one day Angela received “the call”, where a police officer informed her that her brother had passed. Years after losing Nicky, she was coming back from a camping trip and received the second call, where they told her she had suddenly lost her second sibling, Steven, to a heart attack. 

Angela’s most recent loss is her sister Cindy. Angela lost Cindy due to a fentanyl overdose. Like Nicky, Cindy was in and out of rehab and she was trying to put her life back together again. She was trying to make better choices for herself and her children. Unfortunately, she took fentanyl without knowing and overdosed.

In this week's episode, Angela shares how her family was growing up, how her siblings have struggled with drug use, her story with Nicky, Steven, and Cindy, how becoming a surviving sibling has affected her, and the lessons she has learned from such a long grief journey.

Season 3 is brought to you by SibsForever.org, a virtual platform to commemorate and honor your sibling relationship. Create your free profile and start building beautiful commemorative web pages that can include photo and video galleries featuring you and your sibling.

In this episode I’m covering:

  • Intro [00:00:00]

  • Angela and Nicky's story [00:02:45] 

  • Giving news to her children [00:13:23]

  • Angela's and Steven story [00:16:56] 

  • Angela and Cindy's story [00:26:12] 

  • Getting "The Call" [00:40:41]

  • Family dynamics and more loss [00:51:08] 

  • Cindy's cause of death [00:55:14]

  • Bringing awareness to the fentanyl epidemic [00:57:34]

  • Advice for other surviving siblings [01:03:50]

For full episode show notes and transcript, click here

Connect with Angela

Facebook | Angela Kusch


Connect with Maya 

Website | The Surviving Siblings 

Instagram | @survivingsiblingspodcast | @mayaroffler 

TikTok | @survivingsiblingspodcast

Facebook Group | The Surviving Siblings Podcast

YouTube | The Surviving Siblings Podcast 

Patreon | The Surviving Siblings Podcast

Twitter | @survivingsibpod

✨Get The Surviving Siblings Guide HERE


[00:00:00] Trigger Warning

[00:00:00] Maya: Please note that this episode contains depictions and stories of siblings lost by suicide, homicide, and or domestic violence. We understand that some people may find these stories to be triggering, activating, and or disturbing. Please see our show notes for additional resources and to understand the full content of the episode.

[00:00:29] Intro

[00:00:29] Maya: Welcome to the Surviving Siblings Podcast. I'm your host, Maya Roffler. As a surviving sibling myself, I knew that I wanted to share my story, my brother's story. I lost my brother to a homicide in November of 2016, and after going through this experience, I knew that I wanted to share my story and his story. It's time to share your stories now. The forgotten mourners, the surviving siblings. The story that is not told. Enough. Season three of the Surviving Siblings Podcast is brought to you by SIPS forever.org, a virtual platform for you, the surviving sibling to commemorate and honor your sibling relationship. Visit sips forever.org today to create your free profile and store building beautiful commemorative webpages that can include photo and video galleries featuring you and your sibling. Now let's dive into the. I am here today with another inspirational, incredible guest. Her name is Angela Kush.

[00:01:38] Maya: Angela has experienced quite a few things in her sibling loss journey. She has lost not one sibling, but three siblings, and this grief journey for her has spanned over 20 years all the way back to 2003.

[00:01:52] Maya: So today she's gonna be sharing her multi loss story, but also sharing some topics that were requested by all of you. What I hear on social media, what I hear, what I'm doing on lives, and just feedback from the podcast that you wanted to hear more about overdose and fentanyl and Angela's story, unfortunately has it all.

[00:02:13] Maya: So, Angela, welcome to the podcast.

[00:02:17] Angela: Thank you, Maya. Thank you for having me.

[00:02:20] Maya: My pleasure. I am so grateful and thankful that you're willing to open up and share all of this with us, and I'd like for you to go back 20 years ago to 2003, and kind of tell us a little bit about your family dynamic yourself. I know you're the oldest of five. I connect with you on that. I'm the oldest of four, but tell us a little bit about your family dynamic, and then let's dive into, of course, Nikki, who passed first, your brother.

[00:02:45] Angela and Nicky's story

[00:02:45] Angela: Okay. So, yep, I'm the oldest of five. I was raised by my mother and my stepfather. me and my brother Nikki. We have the same mother and father. my brother Steven has a different dad and my two youngest sisters have a different dad, but we all shared the same mother. we grew up, we weren't, How, what's the word I wanna use?

[00:03:07] Angela: we weren't the best of kids, we all got along, but we all had our problems. my stepfather was an alcoholic. there's a lot of family things that ca were, part of us growing up. I guess I wanna say. if my parents fought or anything, my mother would leave us home. and I think it was a lot for my siblings, but, I guess we'll start out with Nicki.

[00:03:32] Angela: So, Nicki was a year younger than me. we went to school together. let's see. I would say probably about the age of eight we got to meet our biological father. he was from Greece, so he was deported when we were very young. he came back, we met my dad. My mother ended up having ano,my younger brother Steven. And, let's see. So me and Nikki went to school together.

[00:04:00] Maya: Um, we were really close. at the time as I guess as we got older, things were like, we, I guess we learned about, family, like as we got older. But Mickey was. In and out of rehabs, in and outta jail. we used to call him, they used to call him the beef, because he always used to work up here in Boston we're big with like roast beef stores, so he walked in a lot of roast beef stores.

[00:04:31] Angela: very close to my children. He, like I said, he was a year younger than me, but most of the time people always thought he was the older brother. so I would say probably about the age of 12 or 13, Nikki decided, well, we were having fair problems at home with our mother, and. Nicki wanted to go live with my real dad, and he went there.

[00:04:58] Angela: He ran away first, and then he went and ended up living with my dad. and again, like I said, in and out of, you know, rehabs detox, he would do programs after programs. And I would say, I think it was like 98 or 99, things got really, really bad with him. he tried to jump off a bridge. he asked my husband for a ride to a hospital in the city and my husband drove him. And my brother Nikki, told him, please pull over. I'm gonna be sick. And he decided to jump off a bridge.

[00:05:37] Maya: Oh my

[00:05:38] Angela: Thank goodness.

[00:05:40] Angela: He was a big boy and he got stuck and he didn't make it to the water. so he went into detox there and, things were,

[00:05:49] Maya: was he, Angela, when he started kind of this, this battle? Was it as young as 13 or how, how young was he when he started his battle with, with drugs?

[00:06:00] Angela: I would say probably 13, 14 years old. You know, at first it was, you know, the pod. And then, as he got older and living with my biological dad, there wasn't as many rules. like I said, he was from Greece, so he didn't understand, we were his only two kids at the time. he, first, he started out with pot.

[00:06:25] Angela: Then he went to cocaine. then he was doing, then he started taking pills. After that he would mix them. And, then he went to heroin

[00:06:35] Maya: and it was pretty, pretty bad. He ended up getting married at one point. him and his wife were both using, the wife ended up leaving him and. He had came to my house, this is 2003, he had came to my house and he said, I'm going to, I'm gonna stay clean, angel, I'm gonna stay clean. And I said, all And he says, I'm gonna go stay at a hotel for the, a couple nights. he had an argument at my house. My stepfather had came up and he had an argument with him and he said, I'm better off just going to a hotel in case he comes back.

[00:07:14] Angela: I don't wanna fight with him. And I said, okay. he had called me and he said, I'll be over tomorrow night for spaghetti dinner. And I had five of my own kids by now that were very close to my brother. and. That was on Tuesday. So Wednesday morning came, I brought the kids to school and I came home and my phone rang and he says, this is officer such and such from the Peabody Police Department.

[00:07:43] Angela: He says, is this Angela? I said, yes. And he said, you related to Nicholas? And I said, yes, that's my brother. And he said, okay, well we found him deceased this morning. And I guess at the time I wasn't aware of what the guy was saying to me, and I was like, how much is it gonna cost me? Where do I go pick him up?

[00:08:04] Maya: Because I guess at that point I was thinking he was just arrested. And that had been a pattern for you and you're the mama bear, as we're gonna hear more and more throughout your story as you progressed. But you've always been the mama bear of your family, your obviously your children now, your grandchildren. So this, I can understand that this was your first call, as we call it, right?

[00:08:26] Maya: The

[00:08:26] Angela: call,

[00:08:27] Maya: yeah,

[00:08:28] Angela: first one

[00:08:29] Maya: yeah. The first one. Bless your heart. And you know, I can understand, it just doesn't register, especially when you have a sibling that has gotten into trouble in the past and you've had, you've gotten calls, but not the call. And I connect with that, and I think a lot of you guys will connect with that too.

[00:08:46] Maya: So at that point, what happened next for you, Angela? What kind of clicked you into mom mode again? And what made you realize this was really happen?

[00:08:56] Angela: Um, so I, uh, like I said to him, you know, how much is it gonna cost? Where do I gotta pick him up? Like, where do you have him? And he's like, ma'am, I don't think you understand what I'm saying. He's deceased. Like, gone. And I'm like, oh. And it just, I don't know, just like my heart fell like, you know, you get.

[00:09:18] Angela: It's a fog that comes, I describe it as a fog now. and I went into like a fog and I just remember, my sister Cindy and my mother were on their way to me because my sister, Cindy, had just lost her boyfriend two weeks prior to my brother Nicky dying. he was in a motorcycle accident and they were coming to me and I had to go downstairs, tell my mother and my sister what had happened. from that it was total, my mother was not in the right state of mind, I guess, at the time to handle it all. so I had to call. I had, like I said, I had my other brother lived in California. I had to call him. I had to go find my biological dad and explain to him what was going on. What, you know, the whole thing.

[00:10:14] Angela: the funeral home. I did it all. we just, it was very hard for me when Nikki died. I was just, that fog was, I've left, I left my kids sitting at home. I didn't even realize. I like, oh my goodness, I left no babysitter there. I mean, thank goodness my son was older, but still, I just walked out of the house, you know?

[00:10:37] Angela: Because you're kind of like you, you're, I mean, you know, you and I talk about the fog all the time on, you know, TikTok, Instagram, all these places, but like, it's real. And like you, what you're describing is so accurate and you're just in this fog and you're just trying to cope with the next step and the next step and the next step.

[00:10:56] Maya: And I, I just appreciate your vulnerability and sharing that, you loved your kids. You like, thank God my son was old enough. You know, because I think a lot of us beat ourselves up during that fog period of time because the world doesn't feel real. And so things happened, so fortunately Yeah. your kids were in good hands.

[00:11:14] Angela: thank goodness. Right. so then, you know, I had, of course I had to tell my five children at the time, the youngest were five year old twins.

[00:11:24] Maya: Wow.

[00:11:24] Angela: and they were extremely close. All my kids were extremely close to my brother Nikki. so I felt like I didn't have time to get. All that out. It was like, okay, I gotta make sure, you know, my sister who just lost her boyfriend, who's six months pregnant, I gotta make sure she's okay.

[00:11:43] Angela: I gotta make sure my kids are okay. I gotta make sure my mother stays with it, that she don't go off the deep end somewhere. You know, I had to worry about getting my brother here from California. He had his kids. it was a lot, a real lot. so Nick ended up dying of cocaine. the acute cocaine, I detoxification, they had it down as, and for, probably about eight weeks after he died, I swapped and down it was heroin and it wasn't, he died from cocaine.

[00:12:15] Angela: So, that was Nikki.

[00:12:18] Maya: And that was probably another surprise because you were thinking it was from heroin and the addiction that had, but it was something else. But still an unfortunately an overdose in such a tough way. And to lose someone, and I think so many of you listening can relate to, to Angela. I relate to you on this because as I've shared my story, I was in complete.

[00:12:40] Maya: Operational mode, like, how do I fix this? How do I do this? And there's so many people in your family. Angela, before we move on from Nikki, I, you said something really I think important that I get questions about a lot, and you said that your twins were five at the time. How did you talk about this loss with them?

[00:12:59] Maya: Like I, I mean, we kind of just go into autopilot and we do the best that we can, but I think you sharing your experience will be so helpful because I get messages from moms all the time. If you guys are listening, your amazing moms for listening to this. But how did you convey the fact that Nikki had passed, but in a way that they would understand, but it's also sensitive to their age?

[00:13:23] Giving news to her children

[00:13:23] Maya: so my oldest, let's see, he was born in 91 too, so he was about 12. I had told him first cuz him and my brother nicu, everybody thought they were, father and son cuz my son looks just like my brother. And you know, he came in and he's like, ma, are you okay? And I'm like, it's not good, you know, bill, he's like, what's a madama?

[00:13:47] Angela: And I said, uncle Nicki's gone. And he said, oh, he'll be back. He probably went to seven 11. And I'm like, no. Like buddy, you know, the police called, they found him today, you know, he's gone. He died, he went to heaven and. He was just like, oh, no, we, we can go find him. And I'm like, oh, you know, buddy, I know you wanna go find him.

[00:14:12] Angela: But now my other four kids, I told them right out, he was, they knew he was sick. I never explained drugs to them. I just told them he was sick.

[00:14:22] Maya: Right,

[00:14:23] Angela: I told them, you know, he had went to heaven and they said, well, can we see him? And I says, well, the only time you can really see him is I said, what they, what we do is we have a funeral.

[00:14:35] Angela: I said, and he'll be there, but he can't talk. He, he can't say anything to you and, but you can talk to him. And they were like, okay. It was very hard for me to walk in there with those kids.

[00:14:52] Maya: of course.

[00:14:54] Angela: And my young, my daughter, the twin, she had walked in and she had a teddy bear and it's saying, I will always love you.

[00:15:03] Maya: And I was like, and I heard it go off and I was like, oh. And she's like, over at the casing, she's like, can he hear the music? And I'm like, oh. So I got them right outta there.

[00:15:18] Maya: Heart wrenching. Oh my gosh. Yeah.

[00:15:21] Angela: it's just to think about it now, like I still remember it. it was, it's really hard with kids because as we talk, there's another story when it comes to my el my sister. And it really kind of hit me hard when it all that happened. Yeah, it was definitely, it's, kids are a little bit more, what do I use the word, resilient, I guess, to it. They're just, they're passive about it. yeah.

[00:15:48] Maya: I think that's a really good way of describing it. I think when they're so young, they are a little bit more resilient and I think we are pl we are surprised by it, right? And I, and with parents reaching out and asking questions, you know, I don't have children so I don't have this experience. And so I again just appreciate you sharing this because I need to know from you guys who've experienced this, how, how do we help, you know, in those situations and how do we explain?

[00:16:16] Maya: So I think that. Important. And I think each child is different. I think that's a message that you're sharing to Angela, you know, talking to your son about it versus the other four, and kind of meeting kids where they are, right. And how they're gonna understand it. And so again, I appreciate you sharing that.

[00:16:33] Maya: I know that's very difficult, aspect to share. so unfortunately you lost Nikki in 2003 and years later you lose two of your other siblings. So next you lost your brother Steven in 2019. Can you tell us a little bit about Steven, what was going on in, in your life then, because many years had passed

[00:16:56] Angela's and Steven story

[00:16:56] Angela: years had passed. so Steven ended up, moving out to Las Vegas when he was 18. He was in,all boys home, cuz he had ran away. My mother had him placed in an all boys home. He turned 18. My mother and my stepfather had moved out to Vegas and he decided to move out to Vegas. he met a girl.

[00:17:18] Angela: They had four kids, four boys, all boys.

[00:17:25] Maya: Wow.

[00:17:26] Angela: and, and the last time I got to see Steven was 2003 A, actually, no, I'm, that's wrong. I had seen Steven in 2003, and then I saw Steve, Steven had came here in 2002, 2011, 2012. He came to Boston. he had left his wife, he met somebody else. they had a son together, which his name is Nicholas.

[00:17:58] Angela: After my brother Nikki. And he, Steven wasn't, he didn't do drugs or anything. he liked to smoke his pot and drink his, you know, had stuff or whatever. And we always made it that on August, 13th, that's the day Nikki died. We always make sure we called each other and he would be like, oh, just have a shot with me. And I'd be like, yep, I got my coffee, And

[00:18:29] Maya: Yep.

[00:18:30] Angela: I had, in 2019,I had gone camping up in Sebago, Maine, and I was up there for the 13th and my brother called me and I was out on a kayak. I'm like, I can't believe I'm on a kayak. Nevermind my phone ringing. You know?

[00:18:50] Maya: Yeah.

[00:18:51] Angela: so I just told him, listen, when I get back into haw, I'll make sure I call you. He's like, make sure cuz today's the 13th. I said, I know. I called him, we talked for about 45 minutes to an hour, you know, just talking about Nikki and you know, how long it's been and blah, blah, blah.

[00:19:07] Angela: So we finished camping. We came home on the 19th. We came home on the 18th, right? He died on the 18th. He came home on the 18th. In the morning. I was unpacking. I have custody of my other sister's, two kids, my sister Sherry, I have custody of her kids. I'm packing, getting every, and I saw my phone ringing and it was a cousin and I was like, Well, that's, which you usually don't call me like unless it's important. And I knew she, she lives next to my mother at this point and I said, I better answer it. And she's like, you better hurry up. And I'm like, what? And she's like, Steven died. And I was like, what? And now, again, in my head hearing that I was thinking it was my s my brother Steven's son, because his name was also Steven and he likes to ride the crazy dirt bikes and all that.

[00:20:11] Angela: So I thought obviously it was him. And Steven was 45 in. He had a massive heart attack.

[00:20:20] Maya: Yeah, so he was very young as well. Yeah. 45 for a heart attack is very young.

[00:20:26] Maya: so that was 2019. He passed away. And this was just, it was just sudden, right, Angela? Like, he didn't have any health indicators, he didn't have anything going on. he was just kind of, you know, from when we've chatted to share with all of you, he was just kind of a normal guy. Like

[00:20:44] Angela: normal guy. he was, he did drywall. He was in the union out in California. He taught his son how to drywall. when he had the heart attack, it did happen in front of his youngest son. At the time, he was only seven or eight. I think he might have been eight. That was a lot for me, just to, and I guess I still have that in my head, like, how does that happen?

[00:21:07] Angela: Like, you are, you are fine. You know, and then all of a sudden, boom, you're just gone. he had came out of the bathroom and he told his girlfriend, He said, I just don't feel right. And she said, next thing you know, he just went over and there was nothing. They said there was nothing they could do. He was already gone.

[00:21:25] Angela: He was gone instantly.

[00:21:27] Maya: Wow.

[00:21:28] Angela: so it was back to the dryer board again. Had to, you know, this time we didn't have a body, we didn't have ashes. We just did a small memorial here in Massachusetts for him. and again, I had to be the big girl, you know,

[00:21:45] Maya: Yes.

[00:21:46] Angela: it all together and again, tell kids and you know, thank goodness by now my kids are older, you know, and they're like, cuz we had had plans. We were planning on going out there the summer afterwards. Cuz I had, excuse me, like I said, I have my other sister's, two kids and they're in school.

[00:22:07] Angela: So it wasn't the time for me to go right before he passed away, and I guess I kind of kicked myself in the butt for that now, but,

[00:22:16] Maya: Well that's a, that you're bringing up a real, another really good point, Angela. And this is something that I think a, a lot of people, if not all people deal with at some point in their grief journey, but we think about, oh, I wish I would've seen them or, or gone to visit them or called them one more time.

[00:22:33] Maya: And for me, when I hear your story, I'm just so happy for you that you guys were able to have that conversation and connect about Nikki. And so I've learned to always try to find the silver lining. But in my, it's ironic though, cuz in my own personal story I'm like, I wish, I wish, I wish. And that's something I have to still work on six and a half years later.

[00:22:53] Maya: So I completely empathize with you feeling that way because. I, I think a lot of you listening will feel that way as as well, like, we'll always wish that we did this or wish that, that we did that, but at the end of the day, I think it's good to kind of embrace, you know, at least you got in from the kayak and were able to have that conversation with him.

[00:23:14] Maya: But I'm sure that's something that will always be a part of us, that regret and that feeling. It's.

[00:23:21] Angela: Yeah, it's, it's, and I guess that's what I would, I guess I had, I won't, I don't know. I guess I had a little bit of animosity towards my sister at that point because I felt like my kids were older. If I didn't have her kids, I could have been out there. And then I'm like, you know, you just, you start thinking all them crazy things and it's like,

[00:23:44] Maya: You start spiraling, right? Like all of us have been through this guys, right? You start spiraling and you're like, if only I had done this, or if only this wasn't happening, or if only, if only, and that's a really common thing to happen. But I've, I've learned as I'm sure you have too, Angelas, we're moving through your grief journey.

[00:24:00] Maya: It can be very toxic, right? Because we can't change it. And kind of finding your way to. You know, I don't, I'm not a huge fan of the, I'm at peace because I don't think we're ever at peace with losing our sibling or siblings in your case, I think it's coming to a place of acceptance and feeling that love in your heart, and knowing that they know that you love them.

[00:24:24] Maya: But that takes time, right? I mean, that's what I think.

[00:24:28] Angela: Oh, yeah. Oh yeah. Well, it definitely takes time. like you said, here I am 20 something years into it, and it's the birthdays they all, it's like clockwork, you know? And. Both of my brothers, they only died five days apart from each other. So that week is like, you know, it's like, so I have like a thing with the, the digits. I'm like, yeah, I don't like the 13. So the, you know, that whole strip there. I'm like, nah.

[00:25:01] Maya: Yeah, I'm sure, again, I'm sure a lot of you can relate to this as well. And, and I do too. And it's, it's those days, but for you, August is so intense. Like that's an intense time and it's within like, like you said, a few days. So that's a time where if you guys connect with Angela, we'll tell you where to connect with her at the end.

[00:25:17] Maya: Make sure you send her lots of love in, in August, cuz August, it'll be 20 years since you lost Nikki because we're here in 2023 right now. But yeah. And so the two of them back to back, that's, that's so much. That's so much and, and you got a different type of call this time, but you still got the call. I think that's why that's so relatable to so many people is we all get a call and it's interesting, you know, you got a different call the first time that I think some people will relate to and then it was a family member the second time.

[00:25:52] Maya: Not long after losing Steven, though, you then lost your sister, Cindy. So tell us a little bit about, I mean, this was just in 2022,

[00:26:02] Angela: Yeah.

[00:26:02] Maya: us a little bit about, you know, moving, moving through the grief process with, with Steven. But then tell us a little bit about Cindy and kind of how this all evolved.

[00:26:12] Angela and Cindy's story

[00:26:12] Angela: Okay. So, let's see. Cindy, Cindy was the baby of the five of us. there's 12 years between me and Cindy. So Cindy was kind of like my baby. She could do no wrong.

[00:26:28] Maya: I get that me up.

[00:26:31] Angela: it's like, oh, I'm the biggest sister, you know? Cindy was a fire and redhead. so every time you, and no matter where we went, somebody always complimented her on her hair. let's see. So Cindy ha Cindy, I would say a majority of her drugs started in 2003. maybe even 2002, maybe before her, her daughter's father passed away. But in couple weeks before my brother Nikki had died, that's, I was saying my sister fiance had passed away in a motorcycle accident. was six months pregnant at the time with their first baby.

[00:27:15] Angela: She had a girl in 2003 in November, November 21st, 2003. Uhhuh.

[00:27:23] Maya: That's so wild. That's wild. For those of you that don't know, that's the day that my brother died,

[00:27:29] Angela: Yep. And that's why though, that, that, when you say that day, it always rings back to like, my sister, um, Cindy was, she was 21 pregnant. She wasn't sure what she wanted to do. She decided, you know, all right, I'm gonna keep the baby. Like I said, her baby's father passed away after she had the baby. She stayed with me a couple nights, then she ended up moving in with my mother, which I knew was gonna be extremely toxic at the time, but, She didn't wanna listen to me at that time either.

[00:28:13] Angela: just because I knew how my mother it's her way or no way at all. me, Cindy, and my mother had a very toxic relationship. my mother would always say, oh, you're sticking up for her. And I'm like, even if she's right, she's right. If she's wrong, she's wrong. She admits to when she's wrong. so she ended up moving in with my mother right after she had the baby.

[00:28:36] Angela: she started dating someone. Then she she was working and then she started, she was a stripper at one point and met a, a gentleman. And that's where a lot of the drugs started.

[00:28:53] Maya: So at the time of her doing drugs, I also had my other sister, Sherry, who was also doing drugs. so sh Cindy had the baby in 2003 again.

[00:29:07] Angela: She would go in and out not even like a, like a day program type thing. She'd go from like eight in the morning till four o'clock in the afternoon,

[00:29:15] Maya: So like an outpatient is

[00:29:17] Angela: like an outpatient type

[00:29:18] Maya: Yeah. Wow.

[00:29:20] Angela: she would just come out and her mindset was to be back with the people she was with. And I said, once you get your mindset out of that situation, you'll probably stay clean.

[00:29:36] Angela: She didn't, um, 2000 and. 10, I believe it was. She called me. I lived in Virginia at the time. I had, once my brother, Nikki died. I felt like there was nothing up here for me. I didn't wanna be around my mother. we have very, very crazy relationship, me and her.

[00:30:00] Maya: I know a little bit about that, Angela. I can relate.

[00:30:05] Angela: so they called and they said that, you know, Cindy wasn't doing good. And you know, Cindy wanted to come down. And I said, okay, but I'm gonna check your bags before you come in my house again. I have kids. And she's like, fine, no problem. I went to pick her up at the airport and I could tell you my sister weighed 105 pounds at this time. I was sick. I was like, oh no, you're gonna die. You know, you're gonna end up like, you know, Nikki at this time, you know, he was already gone. I knew what drugs could do to you. I said, you're gonna end up dead, blah blah. Nope, nope, nope. she came down to Virginia. She got clean. She had a couple jobs. She was working at the hospital, then she was doing,daycare at daycare center. She met a guy, she was taking the bus, and like I said, she's a fire in redhead. and there was a gentleman on the bus and he said, you need to turn your frown upside down with that beautiful red hair. A year later, she ended up having a baby with him. the baby was born addicted. the father don't do drugs.

[00:31:18] Angela: but Cindy was still, let me rephrase that. The baby was born addicted to Percocet. Because the doctor in Virginia, Cindy had spon the spon Osis. It was Curvas in her spine and from carrying the baby her back was really messed up. So the doctor told us she could take Percocet, which she did, and the baby came out addicted.

[00:31:47] Angela: he's good. He's good now though. I mean, he's older now. He's 1213. Oh.

[00:31:54] Angela: I got a phone call I think about a week after he was born, and it was from her boyfriend and he said, you know, can you please come here? He goes, I really need help. I don't know what I'm gonna do with her. And automatically, like I knew she relapsed, and, but now I'm like, oh no, she relapsed and now she has a baby.

[00:32:16] Angela: In the meantime, my mother had had her first daughter. My mother kept her first daughter, um, so she had the new baby and I went over and he had found a purse with a whole bunch of drug paraphernalia in there.

[00:32:31] Maya: The boyfriend found

[00:32:32] Angela: The boyfriend? Yeah.

[00:32:33] Maya: So he was concerned. And this is interesting. This is a very interesting part of the story and I, again, I think this is good information and people will connect with this Angelo and, and depending on your stories, but he was not into this lifestyle, but she still was and unable to kind of crack out of this.

[00:32:53] Maya: So, you know, and, you know, move forward even though she had been in and out of these eight outpatient and some bad relationships in the past. But it sounds like you had a good relationship with the boyfriend.

[00:33:03] Angela: Yeah. I had a real, and to this day I still, we have a really good relationship. we're really good friends. She ended up pregnant again after doing a eight week program. I'm like, eight weeks is just not gonna cut it, but if you can go into a program and stay there for eight weeks, okay, maybe you could come out.

[00:33:24] Angela: So she came out, she ended up pregnant, had a girl, a

[00:33:28] Maya: was she still with the boy with this boyfriend that

[00:33:30] Maya: you

[00:33:30] Angela: Yeah. With the same boyfriend. Yep. he didn't turn his back on her. He wouldn't, he just couldn't do it. He couldn't turn his back on her. she had the two kids and after the second daughter was born, she again relapsed. she actually took a car when he had a Jeep and she crashed it into like a urgent care hospital type thing.

[00:33:54] Maya: Oh my gosh.

[00:33:55] Angela: she had fallen asleep behind the wheel and back.

[00:34:00] Maya: She went back into another program,in and out, in and out, in and out. It was like they could mandate her to do it. The courts she'd go in, she'd come out and it was like right back to the same situation, you know? And it's like, come on girl. You gotta get your shit together, you know? That must have been so frustrating for you, Angela. Like I, I connect with this part of your story a lot too, because my brother, he just, he wouldn't learn his lesson with a lot of things, you know, and he struggled with drugs and alcohol as well. And I always say just because he struggled with that does not mean that it was okay that he was murdered.

[00:34:42] Maya: And, you know, and that's a whole other podcast episode, but you know, As the sibling and the oldest. I, I connect with you so much here and watching that and seeing how you can fix it for them and how you, like, I see the path, like you have this, I'm sure you felt this way about Cindy and the boyfriend, and you're like, you have this man who loves you.

[00:35:04] Maya: You have two beautiful children. You have another child, you know, living with mom. Like, come on girl. Like I love you. Get, get it together. And I very much felt that way about my brother. And it's really difficult when you're dealing with people who are struggling with addiction because it is a disease and we need to talk about it that way.

[00:35:23] Maya: And it's really tough. And my brother had this beautiful girlfriend, this beautiful future head of him and like that was so difficult for me to watch. So I, I connect with you and I think a lot of you guys will connect with this too. It's hard when you're that, that person on the other,

[00:35:37] Angela: That person on the other end, it's, and I gave him a lot of credit and I still give him a lot of credit. mean, they didn't have the best relationship. There was some physical violence in there. some of the stuff my sister did, I'd just be like, oh my goodness. Yeah. Like, you're gonna end up in prison for life.

[00:35:54] Angela: Like at this point, that's how I was feeling. she got pregnant again in 2016 or 17, I can't remember exactly. And she called me one day, she was at the hospital and I was like, oh. I was like, what's going on? And she's like, they think I'm in labor. And I'm like, oh, you know, sometimes they give you those shots to stop it.

[00:36:19] Angela: And she's like, no, you know, I really messed up. I used yesterday. And I'm like, oh no. And I'm like, so, you know, I'm on the phone crying with her. She's crying, you know, I really screwed it up this time. And I'm like, I guess, what did they say? God can only give you so much on one plate or something. And I guess at the time I threw that at her and she had called me back about, I don't know, five or six hours later, and she's like, do you wanna see your nephew?

[00:36:49] Angela: And I was like,

[00:36:52] Maya: Wow.

[00:36:52] Angela: a minute. She was five and a half months pregnant, so I'm going, oh, five and a half months they can save the baby. You know what I mean? And that's my thought as she's talking to me and she starts crying and she said, no, he passed away.

[00:37:09] Maya: Oh.

[00:37:10] Maya: And I said, please don't send me the picture. Just I c i something in my heart couldn't handle that. She ended up sending me the picture even, so I asked her and begged her not to. She's like, I want you to see him. And it was, it was so emotional that it's like, Something you can't get outta your head now, you know? I probably would've said the same, Angela, I probably would've said, no, I don't, I don't, and it's not that I wouldn't be grieving with her, but it's like I, you know, that image is a tough one. But then again, we talk about a lot of difficult images here on this show, but that is, that is tough.

[00:37:49] Maya: That is really, really tough. And as we're moving through Cindy's story, I mean, your story, you have so much loss in your story, but what's interesting to notice about Cindy's story and kind of her struggle, it all kind of comes back to loss for her, right? The loss of, you know, not just your brother, but her significant other, and it, it, she's got a lot of loss that's happened in her life as well, right alongside you.

[00:38:15] Maya: Oh yeah. And I, and I blame a lot of it on our childhood too. like I. Her father was my stepfather. He's only the father of the last two girls, and they could get away with anything. They were, oh, my first two girls, you know, to this day, the one that's left can get away with anything she wants, you know, she's the perfect child. Yeah.

[00:38:43] Maya:

[00:38:43] Angela: yeah, I, my, my stepfather would work over the road, so it was like he'd get the little pieces from my mother, the complaining, you know, oh, she's doing this, she's doing that.

[00:38:57] Angela: And my sister went to my mother when she was 15, I guess she was dating a 22 year old kid at this time,

[00:39:05] Maya: and she told my mother, you know, I wanna go on birth control or something. I don't wanna get pregnant. My mother had me at 16 years old, so we all grew up saying, no, we're not having kids at 16. and my mother called her every name under the book, every name under the sun and she ran away, you know, so it was like a lot of that.

[00:39:31] Angela: I think really between that and like you said, the death her first daughter's father, it was a lot for her. Cuz that's she'd g Yeah, I found journals and some of the stuff that's in there, I'm like, you know, it's like, it's heartbreaking. It really is because of how she was really feeling. the last time I saw my sister Cindy was 2019 because we had.

[00:40:00] Angela: when my brother passed away, I got her out of the rehab that she was in for five days. She came up here, she went back home like we talked every day. so I'll catch up to 2022. my son had just had a baby and me, my daughter says to me, Hey, you wanna go see the baby today? Cuz again, the whole covid thing was going on, and

[00:40:26] Maya: Yes,

[00:40:28] Angela: she's a new baby, you know, they didn't want, and I, all right. You know, so she's, my daughter says, well, let's go over and see the baby. I said, okay. So she says, they want you to stop at Starbucks.

[00:40:41] Getting "The Call"

[00:40:41] Angela: I said, all right. And I, my phone rang and it was my niece, but I was ordering on the thing, so I said I declined the call. And she called right back and she's like, auntie. And I'm like, Hey, what's up? I said, I was gonna call you right back. I said, is everything okay? And she's like, no. She goes, it's mom. And I said, oh no.

[00:41:04] Angela: I said, she didn't go to court. And I said, what they do Resta? And she's like, no. She goes, she's dead. And I said, yeah, okay. She ain't dead, you know what I mean? And she said, no, this guy called from this phone and told me that mom died. And I'm like, okay, give me the phone number. So again, you girl went to that fog and I called the number and a guy answered and it was a friend of hers and he said, hold on. And I said, okay. And a guy gets on the phone, he says, hello? I said, I don't know who the f you are.

[00:41:45] Maya: And you don't know who the f I is, but where's my sister?

[00:41:49] Maya: Mm-hmm.

[00:41:50] Angela: And he goes, is are you the older sister? I said, I'm the older sister. And he says, okay. He goes, listen, he goes, your sister was found outside this morning.

[00:42:02] Angela: and by the time they got her to the hospital, she was already gone. They tried to do Chaco, they did, six shots of Narcan. they gave her the Chaco because they weren't sure if she swallowed a pill that she could get it back up. No. Um, so apparently she had died inside the apartment and they put her outside.

[00:42:27] Maya: Somebody walking by Sarah called the ambulance and it was just too late. She was gone. And this was her oldest daughter that called you Angela.

[00:42:36] Angela: oldest daughter had just turned 18, had just graduated the week before.

[00:42:41] Maya: Oh my gosh. Wow.

[00:42:43] Angela: And Cindy was, she was clean. so that was June. April May. She was incarcerated. She had gotten arrested and she got out on June 3rd. And the only reason why I remember is cuz it was the Johnny Depp trial

[00:43:07] Maya: Yes. That crazy trial. Oh my gosh,

[00:43:11] Angela: and it was at Fairfax County in Virginia and that's where she was.

[00:43:16] Maya: Wow. Oh my

[00:43:18] Angela: that's how I remember the date of her coming outta jail. And we had talked, you know, I called her and I sent her pictures of her daughter graduating cuz she was supposed to go to,drug court. So she couldn't leave the state of Virginia to come up to Massachusetts for her daughter's graduation.

[00:43:36] Angela: They wouldn't allow it.

[00:43:38] Maya: Yeah.

[00:43:39] Angela: So of course, me being the sister I am, I'm like, well, you know, you can kind of sneak. And she's like, I'm not taking that chance. And I'm like, oh, okay. Maybe she's gonna stay clean.

[00:43:51] Angela: I had talked to her the night before they found her. I talked to her at 10 o'clock the night before.

[00:43:58] Maya: That's so difficult, Angela, because you know, like you were just saying, you were like, well, maybe you could just sneak up here. But No, I mean, but in all seriousness, you felt like she was really taking this seriously and you felt like, okay, like she really wants to abide by these rules. She's hopefully making the permanent change in her life to stay clean, and then you get this call the next day.

[00:44:19] Angela: Mm-hmm. Because, so the night before she had passed away, I had a conversation with her cuz like I said, she's got the two kids down in Virginia and then her daughter lives here. And I said to her, if you don't smiling up, you're not gonna see these other two graduate. You're gonna be in jail. Are you gonna end up dead somewhere?

[00:44:40] Angela: And she's like, I promise, I promise. Not even, not even 12 hours later, we got that phone call.

[00:44:50] Maya: have to ask you, Angela, because I'm sure there are people listening that are going to relate to this, like they had a last conversation or they were sure that their sibling was on the straight and narrow and will relate to you in this. Was there anything in that conversation that made you feel like, I need to still worry?

[00:45:12] Maya: Because it sounds like she was quite reassuring to you and like this was her path. She was, she was stuck on it. She was going to make sure, but, and, and you were dealing some real advice to her and just real life like, hey, like either you clean up or this, you know, who knows how your story ends. So I connected you on that cuz that's an older sister thing for mama bear thing.

[00:45:37] Maya: But did, was there anything in the conversation or It was, it was just completely shocking.

[00:45:42] Angela: She, we had had a conversation. Two nights prior to that. And she had sent me a picture and she had like this rash on her hand. It was up her arm and on her hand. And I said, Hmm. I said, I don't know. I said, were you cleaning with bleach or something? And then I said, oh no. I said, tell me you weren't chewing up again.

[00:46:05] Angela: And like she was always honest with me if she did screw up, she didn't have a problem telling me. She's like, no, no, no. She said they thought it was monkey pox. So I stopped laughing at her. I'm like, you got Monkey P. You know? And she's like, I'm telling you, that's what they told me. So I was like, all right.

[00:46:25] Angela: and again, I just told her, you know, you have to s you've already been in jail, but you were clean. Now you come out, you gotta stay clean. Two nights. Before that though, like you are asking, she said to me, I need to get out of this environment.

[00:46:43] Maya: Because she was living in a house with a whole bunch of people that were using

[00:46:47] Maya: That's a recipe for disaster right there.

[00:46:50] Angela: going back. Yep. And I guess that's what kind of kicked the kid's father in the butt too, is the night before she had came over and he said, now he wishes he had just said, come stay here with me instead of, but he had to think about the kids too, you know? He didn't want the drugs around the kids. So, so I went down to Virginia.

[00:47:14] Maya: I took my niece. I got in a car. I drove 11 hours. In the fog in the zone, right? Cause that's what it's like. Yes.

[00:47:22] Angela: I don't even know how I did it. Coffee and cigarettes, I think got me the whole trip down there. Like it, everything was just a blur. Like I just, it was like, hurry up and get there. And when I got there, the kid's father hadn't told the kids yet.

[00:47:39] Maya: Oh, wow.

[00:47:40] Angela: So we were out back and we were having coffee and the kids weren't awake yet.

[00:47:45] Angela: And I saw my nephew look out the top window and he's of course sees me and his older sister there. He's like, comes running down and he's like, oh my God, I'm so happy you're here. And I'm like, trying like to hold it all in, like, oh, Jesus is awful. And he grabbed the phone and I said, what are you doing?

[00:48:04] Angela: And he's like, I'm calling mommy. She's gonna be so excited that you're here. So I said, you know, their father's name's Rich. I says, we gotta tell them. And he just told them. And I'm like, oh no. I'm like, you know, I would've did like, oh, you know, this is my little shme, you know? And

[00:48:27] Maya: like, I have experience with this. I've done this before, and he was more direct. How did that go? How did that go over? That's a totally different style.

[00:48:34] Angela: Yeah. her son broke down. He was like, not my mommy. What happened? And both of her kids know about the drugs. they go to therapy, so they know about mom on the drugs, and it was really hard for him. Here. I call him mama's boy because it was the only boy she had. I mean, she loved all of them, but she always wanted that one boy.

[00:48:58] Maya: Yeah.

[00:48:59] Angela: so we told them I went to the funeral home, that when I got there, me her daughter signed all the paperwork and everything. And the lady says, well, would you guys like to see her? And I'm like, No, but are you sure you have my sister? That was my big thing because we didn't have to identify her.

[00:49:23] Angela: she was already identified by court records and police records, and I said, oh, no, no, no, no. I, I just, I couldn't. And then I went back to his house and I was talking to the three kids all three of them wanted to see their mother. And I'm going, oh no, because like I said, they're nine 11 and then of course 18.

[00:49:49] Maya: And I said, okay. And I put my big crow pants on and I walked in and I slept where they found her the night before I went to the funeral home, I sat out front of that house. I had a Massachusetts red plate on the front of my car. I'm like, she's gonna come walking out. Somebody's gonna say, oh, somebody's out there from Massachusetts and she's gonna run out.

[00:50:13] Angela: I didn't wanna believe she was gone.

[00:50:15] Maya: Right.

[00:50:16] Angela: So I took the, got the kids dressed, we all went the next morning and I turned that corner and alls I could see was that red hair. And I was done. Just

[00:50:26] Maya: knew. You knew. Did your heart just like drop at that point?

[00:50:30] Angela: Yep. I was just done. I was done. And then I, her daughter and her son were in front of me, and her other daughter was on the side of me. And it sounds crazy, but it was almost like I could feel her being like, take care of my kids, just take care of my watch over my kids' hands. And I'm like, I got them. I got them.

[00:50:53] Angela: You know? And then it was, Prop show from there on out, the kids were just like, oh. And we go back to the dynamics with my mother, because my mother and my sister hadn't talked in over a year and a half.

[00:51:07] Maya: Right.

[00:51:08] The relationship with their mother

[00:51:08] Angela: I, and I'm not talking to my mother at this point. I mean, there's restraining orders against her, everything right now.

[00:51:15] Angela: Very volatile. So those of you who wanted to hear a family dynamic that's volatile, meet Angela. Yeah, that's, that's extremely tough. And then to go through a, a loss, you know?

[00:51:27] Angela: so when, when I went to the funeral home, I had called my other sister, who is now living with my mother. And I said to her, do you wanna see Cindy? And she said, yeah. And I said, okay. So I put the camera on and, you know, she said whatever she needed to say. And I shut the camera off, hung up the phone. My phone rang back. I answered it and it was my sister and she, my mother wanted to see my sister. I was furious, so furious, I guess, because there was so much animosity between them and now me and her not. And so I just, I didn't want her to take a picture or to be able to show everybody what my sister looked like laying on that table.

[00:52:19] Angela: So I just put the phone up real quick. She started and, oh my, and I just, I just shut the phone off. I, you know, I said, you got to say you goodbye. That's it.

[00:52:33] Losing her stepfather and her father

[00:52:33] Maya: I left Virginia. I took her daughter with me. Her youngest daughter came back to Boston with me. she stayed for the whole summer. We came back on Tuesday. On a Tuesday, I got a phone call while I was in Virginia that my stepfather wasn't doing good and he was in the hospital. So on the way home I stopped at the hospital and I had to make sure my mother wasn't there, cuz again I have the restraining order

[00:53:01] Maya: and I stop up there with my niece and she's like, grandpa's not awake.

[00:53:05] Angela: And I said, no, grandpa's really sick, honey. So the next morning, Sote told me to get up and get to the hospital, but again, I had to make sure my mother wasn't there. She wasn't my father and my stepfather ended up passing away that morning.

[00:53:22] Maya: Wow. Yeah. I mean, this is, this is an extreme multi loss story that you went through. Yeah.

[00:53:28] Maya: And I lost my biological father in 2020. right,

[00:53:32] Angela: he had, lung cancer, so I took care of him for three years on top of all taking care of my sister's. Two kids too.

[00:53:40] Maya: Right. You've had, yeah, you've had so much loss. And then obviously the complicated relationship with your mother, which I can connect to. I don't have a restraining order against her, so I haven't gone that far yet. But I definitely connect with wanting to have those boundaries and the separation and.

[00:53:58] Maya: I hear this more, more often since I've shared my story. I'm sure we'll continue to hear it now that people like yourself are sharing their stories, Angela, but this is not uncommon for the family dynamic to be very complicated, but I find especially when there is issues with drugs, alcohol, things like that in the family, it, it gets really tough.

[00:54:18] Maya: And, and for me, and, and I think you and I connect on this, it's, we're the oldest and so we're watching this and we wanna protect, you know, our siblings and, you know, our, our parents may or may not have been the best influence on this. Right. And could be a big source. I think it's interesting how you share with Cindy's story how all the way back at 15, you know, she was trying to be responsible and I don't think any of us would love our 15 year old dating a 22 year old.

[00:54:44] Maya: But the reality is these things happen and handling it a certain way is important. And so I think there's a, a lot to learn from this story and from you share. And thank you. I know this is so difficult to share all of these losses, but I, I wanna touch on something before we talk about, we find you, Angela, how we can connect and you're always present on my lives and stuff.

[00:55:06] Maya: So if you guys join my lives, you'll see Angela most of the time. But with Cindy, her, how has she passed? It was a fentanyl overdose.

[00:55:14] Cindy's cause of death

[00:55:14] Angela: Fentanyl, overdose. so they were doing, there's a, there was a big investigation going on because A, she was found outside and b, they couldn't figure out. They have to find out what she died of. so the investigator calls and they got all the talk screens back, everything. She had a pill in her pocket. The pill was tested a hundred percent Fentanyl.

[00:55:45] Maya: Wow.

[00:55:46] Angela: Her talk screen came back. There was no heroin in her system, all fentanyl. So it's definitely fentanyl. They call it an accidental fentanyl overdose is what they call it. It's accidental because they don't know they're taking the fentanyl. I call it poison, but

[00:56:07] Maya: Yes it is. And this is why I wanted to make sure we touched on this before we close today, Angela, because this is, A, a topic people have wanted to talk about on this show and for us to touch on. And so again, I appreciate you sharing that part of Cindy's story. And it's so scary. I mean, I was not the best teenager and even in my early twenties, I partied.

[00:56:29] Maya: Okay. like it's, it's out there, right? But I would be so scared straight these days knowing, not that I shouldn't have been then. Disclaimer, but, but I mean, Just you thinking you're taking fill in the blank, right? A, a whatever kind

[00:56:46] Angela: what I've had

[00:56:46] Maya: time or whatever. And it's fentanyl, guys, and this is an epidemic.

[00:56:51] Maya: This is very scary. I really wanna bring awareness to because I've met people like you, Angela, who have lost loved ones to this, and drug addiction and alcohol, all of that, that's bad enough. Having issues with that is bad enough because if you don't recover as we see, you will, you will die. And that's why we need to bring awareness to the disease and to addiction and to all of that.

[00:57:14] Maya: But this is taking it to a whole other level because you're, you're done. You take it and you are done. So what's some advice that you can kind of give to all of us, Angela, just about fentanyl, bringing awarenesses, you going through this kind of just your take on this. I really wanna hear this from you because you've experienced this.

[00:57:34] Bringing awareness to the fentanyl epidemic

[00:57:34] Angela: Fentanyl. It's killing a lot of people. It's killing it. Doesn't have any, what's the word I want to use? everybody, babies included. Right now I've become very, oh, I don't know what the word is I want to use, but I've been on the DEA websites. I have my sister going up on the DEA wall in Arlington, Virginia.

[00:58:06] Maya: I just, belonged to a fentanyl awareness overdose, page. I just got her a billboard to go up in, dc. we're doing a march for Fentanyl awareness, September 23rd in DC So if you're in DC and you wanna contribute to the cause, there you go. September 23rd. 2023.

[00:58:28] Maya: Yep. We have police that escort all the way to the White House. there'll be banners of all. Like I said, I'm talking down to eight month old babies right now. I've seen eight month olds. I've seen 18 month old babies. It's sad. What I love though is that you're doing so much in honor of Cindy and also you know, bring awareness to the, the fentanyl epidemic. Epidemic. It's an epidemic. It's very scary. the fact that it's so rampant. in the US alone, I know it's affecting a lot of other countries as well, but it's really scary.

[00:59:03] Maya: And so I think it's incredible that you're doing a march and you've done banners and you're contacting the government and all of that. I mean, that's all we can really do, you know, is be active and do things in their honor. And that's how I feel. And I think that's something that a lot of you guys listening, I think sometimes we feel powerless and like we, we can't do enough.

[00:59:23] Maya: But I love that you're doing all of that, Angela. And does that, has that helped you with your grieving process? Cuz you are the freshest griever, but also one of our longest grievers on this season. So is that helping you move through your, your grief journey with Cindy and also your other, your two brothers as if you're able to do action on this?

[00:59:44] Angela: Yeah. All three deaths were so different. like I said, Cindy was my baby sister. Like she was my, to me, she was my baby. You know? And you know, a lot of people try to sugarcoat it. Like, you know, you don't wanna tell people your sister died from drugs. Why do I have to hide that? I have no shame in my game that I've had drug addicts as sisters and brothers.

[01:00:10] Angela: Like there's, there's no way around it right now. Like I tell even my sister that I have her two children, she was a drug addict. She's been in recovery right now, almost two years. But there's never a day that it don't cross my mind. You can go out there and get a bad pill. You can if, listen, it's in Xanax, it's in marijuana right now.

[01:00:36] Angela: It's, I'm scared it's gonna end up in our water, to be honest with you. You know it. I mean, it sounds crazy, but it's like, oh, um,

[01:00:47] Maya: I don't think that sounds crazy to those of us that have been affected by someone in our family with, with fentanyl or, or just drugs in general. Right. So I, it might sound crazy to other people, but it doesn't sound crazy to me because first of all, you've gotten three calls. Two of your siblings, you know, died from overdose and.

[01:01:08] Maya: This is tough. And so I agree with you and I think o one thing I'd like to ask you too, Angela, before we, we wrap, cuz you just have so much knowledge about this, how do you think that, I mean, you've come out on the other side of this, you are obviously not into drugs, you are a mom to not only your children, your grandmother and your mom to other children in the family that you've taken care of.

[01:01:33] Maya: What do you think was different for you and why do you think you ended up in this role? I mean, sometimes I find the oldest to, to kind of take on a lot and I connect with that, but it doesn't always happen that way. Right. So why, why do you think you are where you are? And obviously a lot of struggles in the, in the family life when you were younger, but you came through it, you came out on the other side.

[01:01:59] Maya: I, like you said, I, I was ski straight. I, I just, the thought like, I know like my parents were like, no, you don't do drugs, you don't do this, you know, and I just never did. And, but I also had kids. I was, I had my first one at 21. By the time I was 28, I had five kids. Don't knock me because one of 'em was set of twins. No, but you had to grow up really fast in multiple ways, I think is kind of what you're saying, like in your own family, but then creating your own family as well. You grew up very fast. You just matured.

[01:02:38] Angela: and then like I said, 2016 I got a phone call from my other sister. At one time I had both of my sister's kids. I had Cindy's two kids and I had my other sister's, two kids.

[01:02:52] Maya: Wow.

[01:02:54] Maya: You're inspirational.

[01:02:56] Angela: you know? But like I said, thank goodness mine's all older. You know,

[01:03:00] Maya: Yeah. At least they were staggered a little bit, but still that's a house full of kiddos. So yeah. I really commend you, Angela. I just think you're such a strong and beautiful person I just feel the love for all of your, all of your siblings and this extended family that you've taken care of.

[01:03:15] Maya: And so I wanna ask one more question. Gosh, we could probably talk another hour

[01:03:19] Angela: I.

[01:03:20] Maya: we'll on live. So guys, join us, TikTok, we're always there, Instagram, different places. But, I wanna ask you if you could kind of go back to yourself, cuz it will be 20 years this August. What is some advice that you could give our incredible listeners who have experienced a loss like one of yours or maybe all of yours.

[01:03:38] Maya: Maybe they're like, oh my God, I connect with Angela on this. I've lost more than one sibling this way or that way. what's some advice you could give our incredible listeners or that you would give yourself 20 years ago?

[01:03:50] Advice for other surviving siblings

[01:03:50] Angela: I guess I would've taken the time to grieve of myself instead of holding it all in, let and everybody else grieve and take it on, all that responsibility, I guess I would've sat back and not been like, oh, it needs to be done right. Like when I left for Cindy, it was like, boom, I gotta get to Virginia. Like there was no need for me.

[01:04:18] Angela: I just felt I had to do that. so it's now I look back and say, oh, I would take time for myself. Definitely take time for myself. I dunno.

[01:04:29] Maya: Allow yourself to grieve.

[01:04:31] Angela: Yeah, definitely.

[01:04:32] Maya: yeah, I connect so much with your story on that, Angela, because you just kind of jump into action and you don't really. You're not thinking about anything else, and so it's almost like your grief gets delayed a little bit, and I, I know we both connect on that, so hopefully that's helpful to you guys.

[01:04:47] Maya: Take a moment, take a breath and grieve. Feel it, feel what you're feeling.

[01:04:52] Angela: fail what you're failing. And then I guess wait. And then I don't know, like what Cindy, this last, it's like, okay, this is my third sibling, like this is not supposed to happen. And it's like I'm constantly asking myself, oh, are they together? Oh, what are they doing? Like. And I've had to definitely see a therapist because I was driving myself to the point where, oh, they're together. That's not, you know, and it was just wasn't good for my health. Like not good at all.

[01:05:30] Maya: Yeah. Yeah.

[01:05:31] Angela: sleep,

[01:05:33] Maya: And probably lots of fear that this will happen again and having to work through that. Because multi loss, that's a, that, I mean, it's a, it's a thing when you've lost one, when you lose multiple siblings or when you just go through multi loss, like in general because you've had several different types of losses.

[01:05:50] Maya: It's a fear. It's a genuine fear that you're gonna lose someone again.

[01:05:54] Angela: And that's what just recently happened. My other sister, she was having some hot problems and it just, everything was just like, came flooding back, like, oh no. Like I can't be the last one standing. You know what you mean? Like,

[01:06:10] Maya: right, right. Yeah. I do know, and I'm sure you guys know as well, and Angela again, you bring up a great point to therapy, I think has saved so many of us. So again, we're not therapists, but we recommend Right.

[01:06:25] Angela: know, am I not fan? You know, like you said, I lost Nikki uh, 20 years ago and when I lost Steven in 2000, I never even thought of therapy, never thought I found you a podcast. Driving down to Virginia. After that I was like, okay Angel, you need to go see somebody. Cuz it's not healthy to feel like that.

[01:06:48] Maya: Yeah.

[01:06:49] Angela: But it took me a couple months too because I had her kids with me for the summer and was like, okay. I didn't want them to see how upset I was.

[01:06:59] Maya: And that's one more thing before we close, you had said something about how do you tell children. So we tell children, you know, we told the little ones. Well, when we were going back to Virginia, I decided to fly them home instead of driving the 11 hours there and 11 hours back. And my nephew looked at me as we're up in the air and he's like, so you said mommy's in heaven. Am I gonna be able to see her up here? And I was like, wow. You don't think of stuff like that. You don't think of saying, oh, you know, mommy's in heaven. Well, he thought he was in heaven that he could see her.

[01:07:40] Angela: And I, that was a rough hour ride, trust me. But

[01:07:44] Maya: yeah, that's what a beautiful like perspective though children give, you know, like I'm up in the clouds and I love that. Thank you for

[01:07:53] Maya: sharing

[01:07:53] Angela: yeah.

[01:07:54] Maya: you for sharing so openly your story about all of your siblings. Angela, where can we connect? Where are you comfortable with people connecting?

[01:08:03] Angela: Anywhere. I'm on Facebook, um, on TikTok.

[01:08:09] Maya: You're a talker now. Absolutely.

[01:08:12] Angela: It took an eight year old to explain TikTok to me. I'm like, she's, help me find her.

[01:08:20] Maya: But you did it. And that's, that's the important part. So, absolutely. So Angela, we'll tag your Facebook in here and your TikTok, and of course you guys can find her right in our Facebook group as well. Angela, thank you so much for being here today

[01:08:31] Angela: Thank you Maya.


Angela KuschProfile Photo

Angela Kusch

Angela is the oldest sibling of five children and she became a surviving sibling 20 years ago when her brother Nicky passed. Nicky’s story begins after he was in a severe car accident and developed an addiction from being on strong medications for pain. He was in and out of rehab a few times until one day Angela received “the call”, where a police officer informed her that her brother had passed. Years after losing Nicky, she was coming back from a camping trip and received the second call, where they told her she had suddenly lost her second sibling, Steven, to a heart attack. 

Angela’s most recent loss is her sister Cindy. Angela lost Cindy due to a fentanyl overdose. Like Nicky, Cindy was in and out of rehab and she was trying to put her life back together again. She was trying to make better choices for herself and her children. Unfortunately, she took fentanyl without knowing and overdosed.