Sunday, August 20, 2006

Failing Sarah

There is a sappy article in the St. Pete Times today, named Failing Sarah. It asks us "The last 26 hours of Sarah Rinaldi's life started off as a party. But it spiraled out of control. A lot of people had the chance to help, but who is ultimately responsible?"

I could have saved them all that newspaper space for a really important story, because if *I* had written the article, my answer would be two words: Sarah was.

In a nutshell, Sarah was an out-of-control 17 year old drug addict and alcoholic. Despite repeated warnings, drug interventions, and run-ins with the law, she persisted in her toxic behavior. We can just be thankful that she didn't take anyone else with her, and chose to party too hard at someone else's house where she ultimately died from an overdose. Thank goodness she wasn't driving.

Her mother talks about how she was out of control. Obviously if the mother had done a good job, she would have curbed that behavior early on. However, we are all ultimately responsible for our own lives and our own choices in life.

From even the most impartial account, Sarah was a spoiled princess who was allowed to live a licentious lifestyle and died because of her choices.

Instead of looking at everyone else and wondering what amount of blame should be apportioned to each of them, the Times would have served us all better by asking a much simpler question: When a child is out of control and making all the wrong choices, what can be done to stop the damage she is inflicting and will continue to inflict on others?

As many of you know, I have an ex-boyfriend who is a crack addict. He reformed briefly for a month and then returned to his habit (and all the behaviors that support it). He is toxic to society and has no value as a human being. I don't say this from a bitter perspective - I believe this to be the case when any human takes this path in life.

He was out of control from the time he was a teenager, but his parents kept cutting him a break. If he went to jail, they bailed him out. They called in favors, they enabled him. They gave him money, knowing that it was going to drugs, but reasoning that it was better to give him the money than to "force" him to steal it from someone else. So he took their money and stole, from age 16 to age 41... both from them and from true victims. His parents continued to enable him by keeping it all a secret so he could go on to victimize others. To this day, none of their friends and acquaintances have any idea.

Until we, as a society, become verbal about such toxic people, nothing will change. Who is ultimately responsible for their behavior? They are. When an addict is on the road to destruction, all we can do is take away their keys, post warning signs, and get out of the way.


FruitfulSpirit said...

My childhood sweetheart whom I married in 1976 was addicted to cocaine. I did not find out for over a year how bad it was. That was when he quit bringing home paychecks and things in the home kept disappearing. When I went to divorce him his parents hid him because I was being unreasonable. I was accusing him of mean spiteful things. They never did figure it out!

We do need to quit helping by closing our eyes to these kinds of people. They need help but not the kind that well meaning people give them!

Nicely written as always!
Oh Saur so you know, I use to Echo but had to change. I now have a Fruitful Spirit! LOL

KristieD said...

well said. i agree with you one hudred percent.

EmmaSometimes said...

ABSOLUTELY! Well said, Saur.

It goes back to that 'responsibility' word again.

Maybe she had Decision Impairment Disease because of course, this wasn't her fault? And her parents had Parental Enabling Disease, so it wasn't theirs either. Society had Blame It On The System Disease so, golly, this must be no one's fault.

Badoozie said...

true story. no ones gonna quit until the really want to. same goes for people who commit suicide. if they are really going to do it, there is no one who can stop them.

Senor Caiman said...


Excellent post.

I'm just glad she didn't hurt any innocent people while driving impaired. White Trash.

green said...

All people have value as human beings - even the worst drug addicts and out of control teenagers.

But it's hard for us to see it sometimes (all of the time?) Becauue we lack perspective.

God's perspective.

However I do agree with you that there is an accountability missing: in this girl's life, in that of your ex boyfriend's and in the lives of many others who suffer from addictions of all kinds.
Ultimately, though I agree with your assessment that we need to " take away their keys, post warning signs, and get out of the way."

Even though these people don't want help, we should try to show compassion. But it's hard to do sometimes.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Green, If all people have value to God, then why did He say (in the Bible) that He hated Esau? Nope, not all people have value. Well, maybe they have value as a meat byproduct in Purina Cat Chow...

Senor, White Trash: inflammatory, but startlingly accurate.

Susie, yup!

Emma, beautiful points!

KristieD, Thanks, hon.

Fruitful Spirit, I was wondering where you came from! ;o) Sorry to hear about the ex. I think many of us are put through something like that just so we're ready to appreciate Mr. Right! Or...solitude. I like that too, now... ;o)

daveawayfromhome said...

No matter how much you do, some people just insist on failing. And let's be honest, sometimes there's nothing anyone can do. That doesnt mean that you shouldnt try, but sometimes the horse is dead, and you've just got to quit waling on it and walk away.
Or, to use another equestrian analogy, you can lead that stubborn horse addict to water, but if he wont drink, you cant make him. All you can do is hope that when he finally dies of dehydration he doesnt fall in the water and foul it.

A human being is an incredibly complex piece of meat machinery (being, as the joke goes, built by unskilled labor), and to think every one will be successful, even partially, is as wrong as thinking the Republican party is actually run by Conservatives.

If you think of Life as a game, then these are people who knew the rules, chose to ignore them, and have lost. It's not a perfect model to use, but I think it works almost as well for unrepentant addicts as it does as an arguement for the death penalty (take that as you will).

Bottom line (without analogy), I may feel sorry for these people, and I may try to help if I see a sign that they actually want to change, but I dont have a lot of 2nd chances in me, and I dont feel like spending them on people who continue to make bad choices even after they know where it will lead. St. Jude, I aint, but I do believe in Darwin.

Scott said...

You know... I wonder how someone gets to the point where they don't feel that the life of a 17 year old is worth doing everything that can be done to save.

I don't understand your bitterness Saur. I do not want to say that you are unintelligent or entitled to your opinion. I like reading your blog and seeing what you think and am interested when reading other people's responses.

With this issue in particular though, who is to blame? Everyone that enables that kind of behaviour in a 17 year old is to blame. Everyone is responsible for failing her. She is a young woman that did not need to die. Of course she made poor choices, of course she is responsible for them, but so are those who allow it to happen, those who got the drugs into her hands, her family, the 'system' that is broken and yes, the people who don't care to help. I am all about the idea of a 'civil society'


Saur♥Kraut said...

Scott, it's really not bitterness. I have had this exact opinion since I was extremely young. It's pragmatic, I'll grant you. However, every time I choose to make an exception to this, I live to regret it. It's good, common sense and I don't see any point in letting emotions block it. Emotional responses are what has blocked the progress of our country over all these years. I think it's time we start using our heads again, instead of our hearts.

As for it being everyone's responsibility for enabling the kid, there may be a tiny serving of blame to be handed out, with her mother getting the lion's share. But, at age 17, she was completely mobile, could make the choices she made, and there was no way the system would support her mother getting any tougher with her (if the mom even chose to do so).

Dave, beautifully put. You're right; there are rules to be followed - whether you find them in the Bible or you simply look at them from a practical standpoint.

R2K said...

I love how people call all these things: drug addiction, food addiction, violence, a disease.

It is so american to shift blame in this way. But it is all on you. If you are smart enough to think, to get into trouble, you are smart enough to stay out of it also.

How do we, the normal ones, do it? I have had no problem skipping on crack, on being fat, or on beating my girlfriend. It was effortless.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

"Toxic Behaviour"

Sounds like a heavy metal band.

Grant said...

To ask one to take personal responsibility is un-American. Obviously the drug companies are at fault because they have the deepest pockets. We should all ban together and file a class-action lawsuit because they didn't specifically cover the bottles with labels that say "Warning - do not overdose in conjunction with other drugs and alcohol, especially if you are young and cute and may be treated with leniency by the local police."

Anonymous said...

You dont know anything about Sarah, did you notice this article had nothing to do with her father? Thats because he was the ONLY parent that helped Sarah and controlled her. As soon as Sarah begged to live with her mother (because she was a teenage girl, and every teenage girl needs their mother) Sarah went downhill. This is someones fault, and its her mothers. Her mother never told her father that she went to live somewhere else, so she could continue to collect child support, and Sarah never told her father because she knew her father would have taken her home. This is not a stupid or non-important article. Maybe to you, but if this was a family member of you, you would see otherwise. Any 17 year old needs help from other people, it is not just Sarahs fault, it is always the parents fault, the article clearly states, the mother new what she was in it.

P.S. What type of mother brings their daughter back to place where she became addicted to drugs? Not one that cares!

Anonymous said...

Oh yah, Sarah wasnt the one driving, so forget all your stupid comments about innocent people dieing, what about those sheriffs that saw their car when they had a flat tire that let them go? why dont you all go read the whole article before you say ANYTHING

Saur♥Kraut said...

Anon, you complain of others not reading the article thoroughly, but you apparently didn't read the comments carefully. No one said that Sarah was driving. What everyone said was thank goodness she wasn't. Apparently you're either the father or a relative on the father's side. If so, I'm sorry for your loss, and I'm sorry that you weren't kept properly informed.

However, Sarah made her own choices. Could she have been affected in a more positive way? Perhaps. But no one made the choice to be more involved and be that influence. And even so, perhaps Sarah wouldn't have listened. Ultimately, by that age in the USA, we are who we choose to be and we do what we choose to do.

Anonymous said...

Sarah was extremly close to me. She was a good person and she was definatly NOT white trash. If you met her, you would have no idea she had been a drug addict since she was 12. You blame Sarah for everything that has happened. Personally, I think I would hold Sarah 50% responsible and her mother the other 50%. Her mother is an alcoholic, pill popping, gold digging slut. She spends most her time at a local bar called Peabodys. My roommate who worked there said that Julie Rinaldi was in there so often that she would have never guessed that she had a daughter! Sarahs mom had boyfriend who would supply Sarah with Vicoden and Percocets. Sarahs mom actually kicked her out of the house on more than one occasion because she was so drunk and got mad becuase of something so riduclous like Sarah not doing the dishes or something! I hold so much resentment towards this lady. She is holding other people, such as Sarahs best friends, who trust me, have tried harder than most to help her. Her boyfriend had to hide his painkillers from her because she was so addicted, and her best friend had confronted Sarah about this addiction and was only yelled at for it. But Julie Rinaldi thinks that she has the right to point the finger at Sarahs best friends and even at the police for Sarah's death?? She is only blaming these other people because she is SELFISH. It comforts her to blame other people because that way, its not her that killed her daughter. But I know, that deep down inside, she knows that everything that happened to Sarah... can all be traced back to her. Sarah was following in her mothers same pathetic footsteps.. and her mother damn well knew it and was too damn lazy and selfish to do anything about it.

OH YEAH: The article in the St Pete times was extremly inaccurate actually. Mostly becacuse the whole story was based on what people, who played a role of about 5 minutes in Sarahs last night, had said.

Anonymous said...

Oh and I forgot to mention...
3 days before Sarah died,
Sarah's mom had changed the locks on their house and refused to give Sarah the new key...
what a mom...

michelle said...

I am so sorry for you loss. I believe what you say about the mother. What you wrote was my impression based on the newpaper article, before I read what you wrote. I do believe Sarah had choices and she made the wrong ones in part because she was so far gone with drugs and because she was waiting for her mother to pay attention and love her. That does not make it right and it is definately not responsible. I think that Sarah could have been helped to find a reason to make good choices. Unfortuately time ran out for Sarah. I pray she is happy now and can find peace from her pain. I will pray that you can find peace from your pain too.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Michelle, thanks for weighing in. Beautifully said. I second that.

Anonymous said...

Sarah was a beautiful young girl. Not white trash. She was very careing, and had other problems that werent drug relately but mentally. Sarahs choices were not always the right ones, but thats why we have figures like our parents to help us out, and when we cant make the right choices, make them for us. Many people loved Sarah and understood her, and where she was comming from. Having divorced parents pays a big toll on any child now a day. When reading this article you may think she was wild and this and that, but almost everyone has a "wild" night once in their life, if its just alcohol or more. Growing up in the City is hard for a girl these days, and drunk driving is a lot more common, and too many people are let go. Sarah did fail herself, but with help from her mother. Any child watching their own mother is going to have a great chance of following her footsteps. If Julie was a good mother she would have known not to let Sarah go live with her. But she wasnt, she is the worst type of mother out there. Most def selfish, addicted, gold digging, self centered pathetic excuse for a mother. As most parents know, their job is to keep their children safe, but hers was to use Sarah for money, and a friend? No mother wants to be just a childs friend, esp when they clearly state they knew what their child was into. Its too bad that this had to happen. Sarah was a wonderful person, and could have changed her life around. Her mother should stop pointing fingers at everyone, and look in the mirror for once. She failed her own daughter, and soon is going to fail herself. People make mistakes in their life, some bigger then others, some u can take back and others you cant. No one is perfect, not anyone reading this or anyone not. Dont judge people by an article, but do have opinions. Sarah was a wonderful person, so beautiful and loving. She made the wrong choice that night, and so didnt her friends. But there is no one to point fingers at besides her mother, and obv herself. She wouldnt have done any of this if her mother hadnt let her.

and in the article it says Sarah woke up that morning, then went back to bed. Unless she tooks more drugs after waking up, why would her body become unconcious again, she has already started to flush the drugs out. and if Sarah was up at 10AM, why would her friends think nothing was wrong if she was still asleep at 8pm that night. Someone is clearly lieing somewhere, so they dont get into trouble.

Anonymous said...

Sarah didnt pass out until 6am.. and her friends said they stayed awake until 10 THEY didnt wake up until 8pm that night.. i dont think they r lying about anything.. why would they do that..and besides, what is there to hide?

MakeAWish said...

This is not myspace, anonymous so you can relax. I just read this article and it does say Sarah was last seen alive at 10am. That does not make a lot of sense that she could pass out, wake up just fine 4 hours later, then fall back alseep and become more unconcious then earlier. That does sound a little strange. Maybe they said that story to begin with and cant change it now. Sometimes people change a story around to keep themselves from a little bit of trouble. I am sorry for everyones loss, im sure she was a wonderful person, everyone is deap down at least. Hope everything gets worked out.

Jskam said...

I knew sara very well she was a good friend of mine. A lot of people here are writing because they think they know the situation behind a sweet girl. Sara was a very naive girl, if you told her the sky was purple she would believe you. I don't think everyone blaming one another helps the situation at all because collectivly we could have all done something to save sarah. This was not something that happened in one night this was a process over the past few months of her life. Did she become out of control, yes. So do a lot of people in their teenage life style.

Does she have a little bit to do with the loss of her life yes, but so do alot of other people. How can people who do not know anything about this girl sit and blame her. Once again she was naive, peer pressure is a real thing these days and everyone that is saying not me not me is just as guilty as the last, just like me. I took drugs with sara and so did alot of other people, in the area i am from exit 270 off of i-75 drugs are a problem. A bunch of kids being handed money denying there addictions but pointing at another persons. Sara was a hurt girl, she had to share her boyfriend, im not aware of what the whole situation was but i know that it couldnt have been a pleasent situation to be repeadtly pushed away by the ones you like and love. She felt like she had no where else to turn but down that road. A lot of people could have played a more important role, her friends,family, fellow peers, teachers... Instead of being angered at the fact that oh my god can you believe people are blaming me for this step out side of your big egos and think for a second this poor 17 year old girl who was so naive about the world she lived in not because she was "white trash" but because she believed in the good of everyone got along with you no matter who you were and where you came from, died a death that maybe today she would be alive, maybe not who knows we can't sit and say well what if that gets us no where we have to come together learn from the situation and mourn her death. Sarah was a good girl and just because she became involved with drugs doesnt make her any less of a great person. Try to put your selves in the situation and imagine what if this was one of your fellow peers, your best friend, your loved one, a family member, your daughter. You would be angry, instead of everyone being angry at one another put yourselves in the other persons shoes, even if its for 5 minutes take a second and think!! Im sorry that this message is so long, but it seems that since this has happened that not alot of people want to show sarah justice they just want to find someone to blame, MAY YOU REST IN PEACE GIRL, YOUR DEATH WAS SUCH A SHAME! your birthday is coming up... i wish you were here to get that red g 35 you were talking about!

Anonymous said...

I will just say that the fact that a beautiful 17 year old girl is dead seems to be lost on many. Sarah was kind and gentle. She was generous with her time and loved to laugh. She trusted the people she was with that night. I do believe that each of them regrets not calling for help and had they known how bad Sarah was they would have called for help. If only they could have a "do over". Unfortunately they can not. I am fairly certain that they are each in much pain and live with much regret.

Sarah was not "white trash" and to call her such, devalues her life and is just plain rude,disrespectful and in very poor taste. Her mother, who is my friend, took the bold step of allowing Sarah's story to be told with the hope that it would help others in the same situation find help and take action. Julie is not a gold digging slut. Anyone that could say such a thing about someone who just lost their only child clearly has little class. Julie tried everything she knew within her own resources to try to help her child. I would caution all to not judge. No one knows how they will deal with a situation until they are presented with it. To the best of my knowledge, Julie does not blame anyone with the exception of the police. They were obligated by statute to take Sarah to the JAC or to the hospital. If that were your child and the police had the opportunity to help her, wouldn't you feel the same? Isn't their motto "To Serve and Protect"? Julie grieves for Sarah's father and Sarah's entire family on that side. I have spent many evenings comforting my friend as she tries to come to terms with the loss of her daughter. I have listened as she has played the "what if" game with herself. No good will come from it. Sarah is not coming home. Julie will never have grandchildren and will never experience the joy of planning her daughters wedding with her. Julie will never have the opportunity to see her child come out of this troubled phase of her life. Julie will never hug her child again. She loved Sarah. Julie is a member of a club that she didn't ask to join and didn't want to be in. She is a parent who has lost her child. She did try to help her daughter. When Sarah left she was told there was nothing that could be done because Sarah was so close to 18. She was also told to just wait it out, her child would come home. One newspaper story can't tell everything. Julie was trying to be Sarah's "friend" because she loved Sarah. Tough love did not work, she tried it. Sarah did not have a drivers license because her mother refused to sign for it. Why? Because Sarah was not resposible enough to drive. Please try and find compassion and recognize the courage it took to tell Sarah's story. I wish some of your previous posters could display some restraint from the "name calling". Sarah is not coming home. For each of us the lesson may just be to reach out and help if you see someone in trouble. Speak up, get involved. Be courageous. If you see a single parent struggling, help. If you see any parent struggling, help. Be a friend. Care. Kids think they are invinsible. For Sarah's parents, I will always grieve. I will also learn from this tragedy and I will try to help if I see a kid in trouble. Sarah does hold some responsibility for what happened to her. I will leave it to the other people involved in Sarah's life to determine if they have any role in her death. Sarah is not coming home.

Stasia said...

That's what one of the Anonymous people said.
"OH YEAH: The article in the St Pete times was extremly inaccurate actually. Mostly becacuse the whole story was based on what people, who played a role of about 5 minutes in Sarahs last night, had said."

Ok Julia I know that it's you and if you wanted the story to be accurate then how come when the reporter was trying to talk to you for two weeks , you never returned his phone calls? If you didnt want it to be innacurate then you should have talked to him and told him what happened. But you were way too scared to what would happen to your reputation, considering the fact that it was already ruined. If she had never moved in and stayed with you. Then she would still be alive. You manipulate people! So please don't give me that, the story was inaccurate you had your chance to say something, but you decided to keep quiet.

so that is your own fault don't blame others to make your self feel justified. Just because the article made you feel like a low person. From the moment i met you i knew there was something sketchy about you and look what happened. How could you put on to someone else's shoulders, something you are just as guilty as the next. I hope you enjoy the new clothes sara got the day before she died! do they fit you well??

Galli said...

shes gone... isnt that bad enough... stop slandering her name and let her rest in peace

Anonymous said...

I was friends with Sarah when she lived here in Ocean Springs. She was such an awesome person to be around. Yes she did have a problem just like how many teens do. Bottom line though if the police would have followed procedure Sarah would still be here today. Since when does an officer not notify the parents that their child is drunk ecspecially in the situation they were in. HELLO they were in a car accident and the idiot doesnt call her parents. It is also procedure the bring that juvinile in question to the county detox center. What is it that much extra paperwork for the officer. Hopefully the officer wont do this again to somebody else's child. Now don't get me wrong Sarah did take the drugs herself and that is nobodies fault but her own. And really who is to say that she at one time had taken that some amount before. Girls store things longer in their bodies than what guys do. This incident was an unfortunate accident. Oh and to the people that keep blaming all of her friends over in Tampa they need to quit. They already feel bad enough as it is and blaming them is not going to bring her back. RIP Sarah from your friends in OS!!

Anonymous said...

I have read all the comments on sarah...I know Julie and Steve (sarah's father). I can tell you Julie does not mourn for the Father nor show any respect for the love the father had for sarah..Julie had no business being a parent and has no problem hurting others..t feel very sad for Sarah's mother as she has a real problem..she needs to seek help..Dragging sarah's name in the mud shows you just where her Mom stands..
Julie actually took sarah out of Rehab when the father tried to get help for her..Julie told several people it was not a bad thing that sarah was doing drugs as she had done drugs in the past as well..
Understand sarah had many challenges, her mother and her mental disorders which her Mother refused to deal with..the drugs was only a bi-product of her mental illness..self medication..
I don't want to be hurtful to Julie but she needs to stop exploiting sarah..She is missed by everyone so much..and she was loved

Oh and by the way, the person who stated Julie locked sarah out of the house was 100% accurate..Julie actually had a b-day party for sarah in a bar for adults..pathetic

MollyP said...

As plain and simple as this: Sour and anyone else whom threw comments without knowing who or what you are speaking of, you have no idea about the life of this person, about their views of life, or even how she was raised. Let me ask you this very simple question, what is about this article that made you give your opinion? Its not like you were there and the only thing you know about her came from that article which was not to the fact of the entire evening.

When Ben Montgomery(writter) was speaking with Sarah's friends about the evening and discussing the article, he led everyone to believe it was going in a different direction. Having a quick summary of the evening and giving more of an exapmle of whats out there, what teenagers are doing when they leave the house and different places and ways to get help. A way for a teenager that feels like they have nowhere to turn and escape route towards help.

Some events in the evening were switched around and some others just plainly added in that were for a fact never said. If you want to point fingers at anyone, understand the story first and then consider the young girl who isn't even living anymore to stand up for herself before tearing apart her name.

D. Garrett said...

when you walk a mile in ANY parent'sd shoes who has lost a child, THEN you can sit and type your ugliness! There is only ONE Judge, and He isn't of this world. Please pass along prayers and mercy for this family instead of the snarky remarks on "what could have been done".

You can raise your child to do the right things, but it is ultimately up to them to live that life. It is all about choices. I myself believe the police were negligent in this case, regardless of what the rest of you think!