"I'd like the memory of me to be a happy one. I'd like to leave an afterglow of smiles when the day is done. I'd like to leave an echo...whispering softly down the ways of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days. I'd like the tears of those who grieve to dry before the sun of happy memories that I leave behind when the day is done."
Amber passed away at the age of 33, leaving behind her beautiful, sweet, intelligent and very mature daughter Breanna. Her father, Josh will never be the same. Her beautiful mother, Stephanie has struggled every single day since she passed. Amber is still and will always be in the front of their minds and wrapped around their hearts.
This is a small excerpt from her funeral card:
"Amber was raised on Big Cedar and eventually settled down in Hartford. After graduation from Slinger H.S. she went on to continue her education to obtain her CNA. Outside of her work she especially enjoyed spending time with her tight knit family. An avid snowboarder, she also enjoyed sports participating in track, volleyball, soccer and many more! She was very athletic and was passionate about them. She shared a special bond with her entire family and especially her daughter, Breanna. Amber may have lost her path a few times but never lost her "sparkle" as she called it, making others laugh and feel loved."
I met Amber at REEC. The Wisconsin minimum security prison by Racine. She puts off an extremely confident & "don't mess with me" vibe when you meet her. She definitely had a wall up, that I had to climb over. After we got close though, I don't think I've ever laughed harder with anyone else in my life. She definitely has a "sparkle" and I never saw that disappear. In fact, I probably got to see it shine the brightest since we weren't on hard drugs. We got into a fight once and I made a card for her that said "Sorry, Not Sorry" because she didn't like what I had to say. But right afterwards is when Demi Lovato came out with the song "sorry, not sorry". It was so strange. One day I was trying to do an impersonation of someone but it came out sounding exactly like Sean Connery, we died laughing. Every time I saw her after that I'd put on my Connery voice for her.
We hung out on the streets too. Unfortunately, we were both in active addiction and for anyone who's been locked up, you understand how different women can be when they're not in prison anymore, or sober. Fortunately Amber's personality stayed the same, funny, bubbly, not givin' a F*****, just her priorities were a little messed up (as were mine). Drugs were #1. We had fun at night, but when morning came, we didn't go our separate ways on good terms. We both went back to prison after those days. We reunited a year or so later in Adams, a housing building at Taycheedah Correctional Institute. We would walk in the bitter cold for hours in a circle just to talk. She would be released soon & when she got out she was done with all her paper (parole). That worried me. As much as us addicts hate being in the system, taking drug tests, probation officers poppin' up everywhere, etc. As much as we hate all that, don't let us fool you. Some of us are low-key terrified to be out there without any supervision.
I talked to Amber a few days before she died. She wanted to be sober. She wanted to live! Provisional data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics indicate that there were an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the United States during 12-month period ending in April 2021, an increase of 28.5% from the 78,056 deaths during the same period the year before. The new data documents that estimated overdose deaths from opioids increased to 75,673 in the 12-month period ending in April 2021, up from 56,064 the year before. Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl) and psychostimulants such as methamphetamine also increased in the 12-month period ending in April 2021. Cocaine deaths also increased, as did deaths from natural and semi-synthetic opioids (such as prescription pain medication).
That's insane. People just don't die from cocaine overdoses. That never used to be a "thing". Seriously. They're putting fentanyl in everything! Our kids cannot experiment with drugs the same way we could. The face of drug use and addiction will never be the same. Marijuana has become legal in some states making it easier than ever to purchase a pen, or "flower" or wax. I support the legalization of marijuana. I believe it's a miracle drug and have no qualms with my children smoking, but they have to wait until they're older & their brains are more way more developed. I'm sure we'll have a few fights about that one, but don't argue with the recovered addict Mother about drugs, you will not win.
Vape pens taste like candy & the line of teens at the smoke shop all buying vapes is concerning. Granted, I smoke them too & it's helped me quit cigarettes completely, but do we even know what the long term effects are? At least they don't have the same carcinogens as tobacco cigarettes, but what evil are we trading for that one? Kids that would've never smoked cigarettes are vaping because it tastes yummy. I know a couple teens who have had tickets from the police at school for having them. So nothing is the same for our kids & so we have to go about it a different way than our parents did. But, we do have to have a conversation with our kids about drugs & educate them on all of this. Especially fentanyl. We do have to tell them everything they think they already know and watch their eyes roll into the back of their heads. They're listening though, trust me.
Because Amber has a beautiful family. An even more gorgeous daughter & a Mom who misses her deep into her soul. A grandma who would do anything for her. She had a roof over her head and food in her belly. So you can have all of that, great support, money, talent, beauty...and still get lost. Let's stop making people feel like failures and wastes for having addictions. Do I even need to say we all have them? And if you think you have no one at all & you're alone, you're not. You can always message me. Or choose one of the resources I've posted on one of my many resource pages.
Amber ~ if I could've said one more thing to you it would've definitely been said in our Sean Connery voices, lol! I would've given you a little more shit for your choice of lovers & asked how Breanna was, like always. I would thank you for being a light in my life when it was so terribly dark. I would tell you that like so many others, you are one of my favorite people. You have a light that draws people to you & because of how special and loved you are in life, the hole you leave will be massive. The fam doesn't know me, but I will be sure they knows they can lean on me if they need to. I might hit your Mom up when I hear a song that reminds me of you, like bank account by 21 Savage. Let her know she's not alone. There are so many people out there listening to their radios and being reminded of Amber Hoff! Our Burr. Smdh. I love you girl. I'll see you on the other side.
It was my first time in prison and I was very pregnant. I only spent two weeks in the MC. MC is the maximum security building. All of us are housed there until we are classified. We are mixed in with baby killers & pyromaniacs. Welcome to Taycheedah! Where they like to break you in right away!
Usually it can take anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks to be classified. I was pregnant though & due very soon so they pushed me through classifications in just two weeks. That way, they only have to pay one correctional officer to stay with you in the hospital. They housed me in the dorms. They put me on the North side in the corner. Prego's always get bottom bunks, and the woman above me was in there for killing her baby. She was slow though and I felt bad for her.
Next thing I know, there's this little blonde ball of energy in the bunk next to mine. She was all of 4 ft. 11 in. and originally from TN, and I could tell because I knew that twang in her voice. They called her "little baby". I was waiting for my t.v. and hygiene and all that. It takes FOREVER. But lil baby hooked me up and she'd let me watch her t.v. when she wasn't.
After I gave birth and had my baby taken I would wake up in the middle of the night screaming, asking where my baby was. Crystal and Raven did what they could to console me and keep my mind off of it. I'll never forget the kindness people share when they're in a dark place themselves.
We went to the gym one day and lil baby was using a weight machine for your legs. She put way too much weight on it and the thing pretty much lifted her out of it. She said it hurt but she wasn't complaining until later. She begged the correctional officers for a WEEK until they finally sent her to Medical. When she wasn't back later that night. or the next day we knew it was serious.
A week later she comes back in a wheelchair with a cast on her entire leg. That day at the gym, she had broken her femur!!
Once that happened and she was put on narcotics, she just kept going downhill. She started getting irritable at times and ended up in Seg. I was moved before she came back up from the hole. I never saw her again. In fact I was transferred to REECC,the minimum security prison in Union Grove.
One day, the police came up to our floor and rushed us out of our rooms, careful that we didn't grab anything before walking out. We were all brought to the other empty building all day while the cops and dogs ripped that place apart.
Finally we were brought back to our rooms and then we found out what that was all about.
A woman had overdosed and died at Taycheedah & so every prison in the state was shook down.
When they announced who it was, my heart dropped. It was Lil' Baby. She had taken a mix of adderall, gabapentin & wellbutrin some other stuff I believe ( if someone knows I will correct this. It was definitely the first two with some other stuff. Nothing crazy though! we aren't talking about heroin & I'd been on all 3 of those myself. The papers said she hhad underlying health problems but her leg is the only thing I knew had been wrong with her. Adderall would've been hard to get, but wellbutrin and gabapentin flowed through the prison like candy. That's all changed now & I'm glad. They used to just put us on whatever would keep us calm. Or sleep. Or to look like zombies.
Crystal, I'll always be grateful for you & I hope you're up there playing cards, and I hope you're at peace. I'm so sorry this happened to you but believe me when I say it wasn't in vain.
Rest in Paradise Lil' Baby <3