(written by her father)
Niamh O’Brien was only 22 when she passed away. It’s hard to write those words. It reminds me yet again that she’s permanently gone from our lives. She was to start university in the fall, wanting to become a dental hygienist. Her radiant smile, her dry wit, her raven hair, her future, our imagined future, lost.
Niamh died in April of 2021. She’d been sober for 4.5 years. Whatever possessed her to use again that night cost her everything. Her passing left devastation in its wake, as it has done for so many other families.
The mid-teens had been very difficult years for Niamh. For all of us. Coincident with her mother’s cancer, she had started down a path that would lead us to seek out the help we needed to combat the insanity of addiction. At the time there were a lot of treatment options available for a cancer patient, whereas a person with mental health and addiction issues, or those trying to care for them, were left to stitch together a patchwork quilt of ill-fitting services, hoping that none of the gaps were too big. They were.
Our greatest allies were the youth counsellors we met at Odyssey I, part of the Boys & Girls Club of Canada. THEY were our port in a storm. We were not alone. They became part of our family. Through Niamh’s recovery she came to teach youth at Odyssey how to use Narcan, the opioid overdose revival drug and the training program was re-named in her honour. Odyssey I (Boys & Girls Club), Narcan Training Program (in memory of Niamh O'Brien)
These vital programs require funding or else they’re just words on a page.
I have built a special memorial bike for the journey. The bike is emerald green. Niamh’s middle name, Tara, adorns the left fork and an Irish triskelion is pictured on the right. I may be cycling alone, but our girl will be with us as we travel down the road. We hope our journey will be healing and that our fund-raising efforts will save the lives of countless youth, in memory of Niamh Tara O’Brien.