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Born out of Pain by Debbie Dannheisser

Anniversaries are interesting things. They can be times of great joy, or great sorrow. For Dan and me, as the anniversary of that horrific day when we lost our daughter, Nicole, approaches, the memories and the sorrow are once again overwhelming.
One year ago, we were feeling so optimistic about Nicole. Though she had struggled with drugs, she seemed to be doing so much better, clean (or so we thought), with a new job, and therapy that seemed to be going well.
Nicole and I had been shopping for new clothes for her to wear to her new job and her dad had bought her a car and given it to her on that very day, just a year ago. My family from Georgia was all here at home playing dominos that evening, as my mom was scheduled to have heart surgery the next morning.
Everything was so normal, until two policemen came to the door. We joked that Dan had done something wrong and they were coming to get him.
As they asked us if we were the parents of Nicole, we knew immediately what had happened. It was our worst fear realized. Dan and I and the two policemen went to our bedroom to avoid upsetting my 94-year-old mother. As the news sank into our hearts, we realized we would somehow have to return to the table and pretend nothing had happened, so my mother would not know. We made up some ridiculous story and the game of dominos ended, as we tried to figure out how to put one foot in front of the other.
As you can imagine, we were devastated. That night was followed by many nights of pain and grief that suddenly take over your body. On one of those sleepless nights, as I was holding my husband, I prayed for something that would make a difference, some glimmer of hope that would help us move forward. I asked for guidance, I asked God, I asked Nicole, the angels, anyone to help me and my husband bring some meaning to this seemingly senseless tragedy.
Somehow, finally, that message came through. We had to change the pattern of our lives. We had to stop looking back at what might have been, and start looking forward once again. We had to rediscover the love and beauty in life, especially within ourselves.
That is what Nicole had never been able to do. She could not see the love or beauty that flowed from within. She could not feel it, so she could not believe in it.
This is now our mission in life. Through this pain and loss, we decided to dedicate my art-based clothing line, Threads, to Nicole, in remembrance of her beautiful and gentle spirit. It is a daily reminder of our love for her that hopefully will serve to remind others to celebrate their own inner beauty and love.
There is magic in these garments. Magic, born out of pain.

Celebrating the beauty to be found in every day,

~ Debbie    


  • You ARE love, Debbie. And your art is such a beautiful reflection of that love. Thank you for making the world a more joyful place. I cannot even imagine the heartbreak that you and Dan have endured throughout this process. But please know this, your story is a powerful reminder to us all. Pain can serve a higher, healing purpose if we make that choice. Thank you so much.

    Linda Larsen
  • Saw one of your outfits at Jazzersize and thought they were truly beautiful and unique.
    After reading your story , I totally understand your passion as I also lost a son to drug addiction three years ago in February. I understand how important it is to find a new purpose for your life.
    I am sure she is smiling from Heaven at what you have created in her memory. God Bless

    Debra Trenner
  • Heartbreakingly beautiful.
    Sending love 💕

    Freda W.
  • It’s not easy to type this through tears but I have to let you know how proud I am to be part of your reinvestment in life as a loyal wearer of your Threads! As an active member of the Recovery community since 1981, both personally and professionally, this scenario is the worst and most painful. I so admire your courage and spirit in celebration of what is best in life. Thank you for sharing your story and May your memories of Nicole be a blessing!

    Linda Ann Remley
  • I don’t really know the right thing to say Debbie. I cannot imagine your grief. I can only say that the kindness and beauty that I saw when I met you must overshadow your grief. You have chosen life. You have chosen to live and love and I am amazed at the strength that must have taken. You are beautiful. Your art is beautiful. God bless you.
    Thank you,


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