Hanover woman who overdosed
ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER
Two summers before Jill Cairo died, the summer she was carrying the boy that would be named Liam, was a season in the sun.
Liam is the son of Jill Cairo, a Hanover woman who died Nov 11, 2005, at the age of 24 of a heroin overdose. Jill Cairo's parents, Sal and Theresa, are raising the boy.
(Craig Murray/The Enterprise)
"It was the perfect summer," her mother, Theresa Cairo, said. "We would just hang out by the pool, day after day."
It was, her father would later say, Jill's gift to them.
Two years later, Jill would be dead of a heroin overdose at age 24.
Her son, now three, is being raised by her parents.
"She left a piece of herself," Mrs. Cairo said. "Thank God for him."
Jill Cairo, blonde and beautiful, was, on the surface, the least likely person to fall victim to heroin, her parents said.
She was smart - earning As and Bs - and a bit shy. She liked to read. She loved to swim. She used to write and draw. When she walked into a room, heads turned, but she didn't seem to notice.
"She was really a quiet girl," Mrs. Cairo said.
The family had moved to Hanover from New Jersey to be closer to
family while Jill was in high school after her father retired as a liquor wholesale executive. She seemed to make the transition well, her mother said.
Jill Cairo had beaten heroin addiction once and stayed clean while she was pregnant, but was unable to stop using after her son was born.
They lived in a nice neighborhood, in a comfortable house. When she graduated from high school, she took courses at a community college and worked.
But there were problems below the surface, problems her family wouldn't discover until it was too late.
She began using OxyContin with friends. Then she began to use heroin.
Eventually, Jill blurted out the truth to her mother in the family car.
Jill had disappeared days earlier and her worried mother, after making phone call after phone call, began driving the streets of Brockton.
"Someone had heard from her and said she was with people who were in Brockton. I had no address," Mrs. Cairo recalled. "There were some people that I would stop on the street and ask, "Have you seen a girl, her name is Jill?'"
Within 1½ days, she found Jill walking toward WalMart with another girl. She pulled over.
"I just said, 'I want you to come home,'" Mrs. Cairo said.
Jill got in the car. A few minutes later, she told her mother she was addicted to heroin.
"I was so scared. I didn't know what to do. We couldn't get her into a place for treatment until the next day. I just held her the whole
night long. I was so frightened. I was just so scared for her."
Sal and Theresa talk about raising their grandson, Liam, in their Hanover home after their daughter Jill died Nov. 11, 2005, of a heroin overdose.
(Craig Murray/The Enterprise)
As Jill began to withdraw from heroin, her mother stayed at her side.
"She was just in so much pain. Her legs were killing her."
Jill would enter a treatment program. Then a halfway house. Then a sober house.
She was clean for six months before she become pregnant. She stayed clean throughout her pregnancy, gave birth to a son and stayed away from heroin for six more months.
"The summer she was pregnant was a gift," her father, Salvatore, said.
But heroin would ensnare her once more and, after going through another treatment program, Jill went to a program in Lynn.
"It's funny, when she went to Lynn, I told my husband, 'She's never going to come out of this alive,'" Mrs. Cairo recalled.
Five months later, the Cairos received a phone call. Jill had left the program.
Then police officers were at their door. Jill was dead. She overdosed in a Lynn apartment. "She met somebody who was going to the NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings but was still using," Mrs. Cairo said.
After Jill died in 2005, her family looked through her personal items.
"We noticed how many things had butterflies," her mother said.
The butterflies would adorn her headstone. Her family is making a butterfly garden in the backyard.
"It makes us feel better," her mother said.
Maureen Boyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org