There was not a dry eye in the place as people gathered for the graduation ceremony held for two women Thursday in the Portsmouth Municipal Court room of Judge Russell D. Kegley. Graduating were Laci Turner and Kelly Buckley.
“Today is a great day because we’re here at Christmas time and we’re here to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but we’re also here to celebrate the re-birth of a couple of beautiful young ladies who have fought very hard and have succeeded through their own perseverance and their courage and their will to fight,” Kegley said.
Each graduate addressed those in attendance. Turner wept as she recounted the hard trip from addiction to graduation.
“I was broken and defeated and I was ready to give up on life,” Turner said. “In the beginning it was tough. Being mentally, physically and emotionally broken, I was running from my problems instead of facing them.”
She related that she had been put on house arrest and incarcerated into a three-month inpatient program.
“Even though I went against everything I was supposed to do, I had people standing behind me who cared and wanted to see me succeed,” Turner said. “So I started to surrender to a new way of life. During my time in treatment, I became humble and asked for help.”
Turner said her life then began to fall into place.
Buckley said at first she thought it was crazy that she got drug court and six months in treatment.
“I thought of it as a get out of jail free card,” Buckley said. “I had it all planned out. I’d get released from jail for treatment, and then I would jump out of the car at the first red light I came to. I remember every light we came to, me saying, ‘okay Kelly, here’s your chance. Get out before it’s too late.’”
However, Buckley did not jump out of the car and continued the program. Her counselor would give her benchmarks as to when to when to leave, when she had a tendency to do so. One of those was to wait at least until the Portsmouth Probation Office closed.
“In a way it’s kind of a reaffirmation in humanity,” Kegley told the Daily Times. “You get to see the redemption at the time of redemption, and these girls exemplify it and it’s a beautiful thing.”
“So somewhere between waiting for it all to be over and the probation office to close, I started listening and thinking and participating and doing a lot of praying,” Buckley said. “And I realized that after 17 years of active addiction, prison time and so much chaos in my life that I didn’t want that life anymore.”
Buckley said she surrendered and accepted all the program had to offer. She has now come full circle and will be working with others suffering from addiction.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.