Sarah Elizabeth Gardner

Sarah Elizabeth Gardner

Amazing, beautiful, caring, giving, loving

Sarah was a bright and caring young woman who was full of life and love for others. “She had such a contagious smile and laugh, I couldn’t even stay upset with her when she was in trouble,” says her mother. Sarah was a kindhearted individual who loved her family, friends, and all animals, especially her four cats. “She would’ve adopted them all if I’d have let her,” jokes her mother, “She was just so deeply empathetic, she would even get upset whenever she saw elderly people by themselves in public, asking me if we could adopt them into our family.”

Growing up Sarah enjoyed a lot of things, like her extensive taste in music and expressing herself through singing, dancing, and drawing. In school she was a brilliant student until she began struggling with addiction around the age of 16. She loved cheerleading, taking dance classes, and being with her friends; and the holidays were her favorite because she got to spend time with her family. “She was my daughter, but she was also my best friend. We had these cute nicknames for each other,” recalls her mom, “she was Sarbear and I was Marebear.”

After high school Sarah worked a job as a waitress where she brought joy to the people she served, but she dreamed of someday going back to school and continuing dancing. Even through her addiction, she made many accomplishments like buying her own car and paying her bills without help. Perhaps her biggest accomplishment though was being sober for over a year before she passed. “She always talked about how later in her life she wanted to help others that were struggling with addiction. We have heard from so many of her friends she met in sobriety about how her story, her death, and her memory have helped them in their own journeys to sobriety,” says her mother.

For Mary Ann, the most difficult part of living around her daughter’s disease was watching her become a shell of her former self and turn into somebody she didn’t know, somebody who only cared about herself and that would lie, cheat, manipulate, and belittle herself. Her mother says that most of all she misses her daughter’s laugh, her smile that could light up a room, her silliness and eye rolls, and her random “I love you,” texts.

Though Sarah’s life was short, it had a great impact on those who loved her. Her mother says that losing Sarah has taught her that life is precious, and that everyone has a story. She is now unafraid to be vulnerable about Sarah’s story and advocates openly hoping to help others that are suffering from addiction. “Each person who suffers from addiction is truly somebody’s someone, and Sarah is our someone, who made a choice that changed our lives forever. I am honored to be Sarah’s mother,” says Mary Ann.

Sarah’s mother, Mary Ann Oliveri, provided the information for this narrative.

January 21, 1994–May 29, 2017

Age 23-Lived with the disease of addiction 8 years.

Share this story from The INTO LIGHT Project

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

More Into Light Stories

Read more biographies from this exhibit.
Devin Hart Bearden

Devin Hart Bearden

Caring, athletic, bright, witty, attractive At 6’2”, Devin was lanky, handsome, and a natural athlete. Equally at home on a skateboard, snowboard, or when surfing, he was a pleasure to watch; so fluid and graceful. He was a good soccer and baseball player and loved hiking in nature or being at the beach, especially on the annual family beach trips to Hatteras in North Carolina. [...]
Read More »
Jillian Marie Angelicola

Jillian Marie Angelicola

Gentle spirit, humble, loving, compassionate Jillian was a kind, empathetic, and loving woman, whose conflicts in life taught her to be selfless in her relationships with others. “Whenever Jillian would go into rehab, she would arrive with suitcases of clothing and whatever else she might need.[...]
Read More »
Raymond A. Bauer

Raymond A. Bauer

My son, the gentle soul Ray was an old soul who gravitated toward children, animals and the elderly. He loved to hear his grandparent’s stories from the past and his mother remembers Ray and his grandpa watching wrestling and the playful banter they had; “No Pop, it IS real blood!!” Ray was very affected by the death of his grandparents when he was just 14. [...]
Read More »
Morgan John Bazik

Morgan John Bazik

He was my world, and I was his Morgan and his mother shared a very significant characteristic; they both had enormous hearts. “He had my heart wrapped in his body,” his mother said. Morgan’s big heart made him gravitate toward people who had difficult home lives or other problems. Most of them ended up at Morgan’s home, where Bonnie welcomed them and provided snacks, dinner and a safe place to relax and be themselves. “It was Morgan’s big heart that brought them to our home and mine that kept them here,” his mom said.[...]
Read More »

Bring an Exhibit to Your State

Interested in bringing The INTO LIGHT Project to your State?
Find out how you can make this happen.