Last week, I went to visit a dear friend of mine. We had not seen one another in ten years though we speak by phone about three times a week. We have been friends since our young days in Chicago, where we would drink tons of coffee and rummage through second hand clothing stores and smoke cigs as we did with our colorful doc martens pounding the grounds. During the week, we dressed up and went to work at our respectable job. We put in long hours and were responsible. Just two gals from the Midwest living their lives in the Migrant city for adventurous midwest kids from the Great Lakes States.
We held a small casual dinner party so that I could have the honor of meeting her friends who had helped her through a difficult divorce. I was excited and by the end of the night drained of emotion and energy. For the five people total at this dinner party there was at least 10 bottles of red wine persuing the dinner table. Please note, I love red wine. But I am a non-drinker. Not because I hold some moral compass, its because when I do drink I have no moral compass. I end up fucking strangers and insulting friends and well its not a great thing. I am an uncivil soul when wine passes my lips. So I cannot drink.
The night was long, though not in real time. I was held hostage by the husband who dominated the conversation and as the night went on his behavoir and ideas got jumbled up and the repeat button was pushed on. At the other end of the table I heard an absurd conversation about the size of house they should build. Big shotism has taken over the coversation, and I was biting a hole through my tongue. We bid them goodnight, save for the lone drunk who was drinking and talking like she had just arrived. I remember thinking "my god I am staring at myself twenty years ago." She finally left, and off to bed I went.
I am not writing to be judgemental, though my tone sounds may sound like I am judging. Often, I think the monks vows of silence is so right on.
I notice drinking, I am an alcoholic. Though I have been sober for numerous years and for someone as young as I am, I am considered an Old Timer. But I am not old timer in my family, I am the youngest. I am the sister of an alcoholic who is killing himself fulll force like an olympic athlete training for his sport. Was it always this way? well no, but for most of my life it has been. My brother is a huge hearted man, that made a bad choice and though others have made the same choice in their lives his just happened to be a fatal choice. He has not drawn a sober breath for any length of time since in his early twenties. He is now 50.
In books and movies even songs you hear this romantic notion of the tragic drunk, the misunderstood artist, genuis, and or the one who had a terrible event happen. There is nothing romantic about watching a sibling kill themselves by a poision that is so acceptable and even subjected to categories based on ones status. If you looked at my brother what would you see?, you would see a handsome man. With sloe eyes and deep blue colors flickering from them, you would see a man who has the same sex appeal as James Coburn, or Benitio Del Toro. You would hear the words and thoughts of a photographic memory. But if your one of his siblings you hear it, the revibration of deep sadness. It shoots right through the phone and pierces your heart, your body reponds by the welling of tears. You hear the desperate negative tone, life sucks, mom would be so mad, on and on....my brother is not only dying of this disease he is spiritually gone.
There are four kids, two grandkids. All of the kids are healthy, and there is the long suffering wife. The house is in a nice area and there are two cars in the garage. He has his own business. Although, he is a republican I do not believe this is the reason he drinks like a man dehydrated. He Drinks because when he can the world will become what it might have been with just one flick of the can's tab.
I have tried to help him but it has been a quiet hand held out. My other siblings have assured me that he might not fit into the group that saved my life. But now a time has come where everything be damned he does need it but I am afraid there is not way he will accept it. So the solution has been to keep a distance. For this I am sorry. But after this weekend seeing these people drinking and drinking and thinking 'ain't life grand', watching them and thinking, 'please don't drive off the cliff please don't accelerate..please please', than talking to my brother drunk and angry at my demetia afflicted father after all these happenings and courses...after all I cannot for the life of me make any of them better.
So, I keep my course of distance and send loving wishes for him. But he is now or should be the gold medalist at his sport. For he is training with avengence now, see our mother died. Any reason that seems unfair is good enough reason for him to start those early morning laps for flipping open that tab. The phone calls, the not remembering, and the promise of a new years resolution...again and again.
Our mother loved to read us Aesops Fables. I remember every illustration in that book though most fables I have forgotten. But he is in a race, and he is the hare. He runs and runs to no avail.
I do not take this lightly, the fact that my eldest brother is killing himself. Why aren't there people holding signs ups marching demanding no more, if we can march against choice...why are we not marching against this epidemic. People killing themselves by choice. The fabulous bottles of wine that they go on and on about, the home made brew that is so hip& cool. Why aren't there signs for them, why aren't there hearings held in the senate and lawsuits being filed from famillies of loved ones who have choosen to Budweiser themselves to death? Really, its not a stretch.
People who drink themselves to death, Die from Enlarged livers,and esophogus cancer in which literally their inside is coroded like pipes of a sink. They die from wet brain that means, literally their brains are seeped in alcohol. They die from Suicide, a blast to the head, a rope dangling in a closet. They shake like the leaves and blow across our lives like a fall storm rising up unexpectedly in the night, that visits nightly for the next twenty years until there is nothing left to blow across the family structure.
My brother, my sweet braced orthopedic wearing brother. My brother who played a fierce foosball, and who worried for others who were weaker. My older brother who beat the hell out of the gang that had my other brother against the locker at school. This sweet older brother has choosen to kill himself...and there isn't a damn thing I can do about it today.
For all those who find it alluring the wiley taste and soothing feelings of spirits, I truly understand. For those like my brother, or the lonely drunk that would not leave the dinner party, they need to find some d'etre raison. I can only hope that in a moment a clarity gets open in their mind and one day I find myself in a seat next to them kevetching that I cannot drink that fabulous wine. But remembering the last time I drank, I urinated on myself passed out on my parents front porch only to be awoke by my furious boxer shorted father!
I am praying, one day we hold ourselves to the light and stand up and accept those choice we've made, to know we aren't the only ones who have those choices and have choosen poorly. For that is the part of life where we are all the same and no difference falls between us. Choices we make in life, they make our tapestries interesting and colorful. Choices...life is about choices...and some of us never get over the choices we make and others feel the aftershocks of those choices for generations to come.