Margaret Louise (“Marley”) Atamanchuk passed away on August 6, 2020, at the age of 33 at Wake Med Hospital in Raleigh, NC. For more than twelve years, Marley had fought the disease of addiction and earlier this week, God gave her freedom from the pain and struggle and simply called her home. Marley is now free of the chains that held her hostage for so long. Her family and those who loved her are devastated and left to mourn the loss of a truly unique and beautiful soul. Marley leaves behind her son Gregory Thomas Heyes, 10, and her daughter, Annabelle Lee Heyes, 8, of Palos Verdes Estates, California. Her children were Marley’s driving force and it was for them that she fought her disease for so many years. She was able to spend several happy, relaxed summer days with her children in the weeks just before she passed away. Other family members who loved and supported Marley include her brothers, Daniel Atamanchuk and Jonathan Atamanchuk; her aunts Tammie Hope, Kari Crow and Bonnie Hope; her uncles Bud Hope, Jerry Hope and the late Bob Hope; her step-sisters Cassie McGuirk and Catherine Sweeney; her beloved pups, Gracie and Carmine, and her cat Basil. Marley’s grandmother, whom she held in special regard and loved so dearly, Louise Hope, passed away just 14 days before Marley. Marley also leaves behind her step-dad, Dr. Mark Bezzek, and her mother, Cindy Hope Bezzek. Cindy offers the following statement regarding her daughter’s tenacious battle with addiction:
“In my text exchange with Marley on the night of her overdose, we said the following: Marley said “I love you so much mama. I will never stop fighting the good fight. Or is it the hard fight? Either way, I’m a fighter. Love you.” I replied: “Just realize what is at stake. It’s YOU. It’s everything. Please try to understand this from the view of those who love you. Your chances will run out at some point. And I will wonder did I say everything I could have said? I love you SO MUCH Marley. Please don’t die. Please please stop. Realize how close you are to being dead and not in existence. And please take this seriously and please try to live. Good night my sweet and only daughter. I pray a prayer of thanks that you are still here. Tell me that you understand.” She replied, “I do mama – so much so. Love you unconditionally.” Those were her last words to me. In less than one hour she snorted heroin laced with fentanyl and her heart stopped. Rescue workers got a pulse back but she had been too long without oxygen. She spent the next three days on life support where it was determined there was no brain activity and she was pronounced dead. Today, my precious daughter gave her heart, her liver and each of her kidneys to save four lives.
To say that we are devastated at the loss of Marley is an understatement. In fact, there is no statement big enough to convey what has been lost now that she is no longer in this world. Her light, her love, her sense of humor, her unfiltered authenticity and her intense care for what others were suffering are only a few of things we will miss. As her mother, I have stood by Marley as she fought. With each and every relapse, she fought. She attended 12 inpatient programs to battle this demon, the most recent in Tennessee in May. At every rehab and every recovery meeting she attended, Marley touched lives. She felt the pain of others and sought to help – usually through laughter and fun. She loved animals and pets, and if it had a llama on it she fell in love. She tried so hard. She really did. But she took one last chance, she took one step too far and it was her last step. How many times did we talk about that? When her friends would die of overdose and she would cry and mourn the insanity of their passing, I held her in my arms and begged her not to go there herself. I begged her to keep fighting and she promised she would. With her last words to me, she promised she would. And she tried. But the disease was too powerful. People who look down on addicts as weak and powerless have no idea how hard these people work to try and climb out of the holes they have dug for themselves. With her first use Marley likely altered her brain chemistry just enough that she kept going back and with every use she dug her hole deeper and damaged the delicate circuitry of her brain more and more and more. Marley was a good and kind woman, a loving mother and a dear, sweet, fun daughter. She was also a drug addict who made horrendous decisions and broke the hearts of all those who loved her over and over and over again. She is now at peace with God. She is with her two grandmothers in heaven having fun and making everyone laugh. Life will never be the same without her.
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