So, there's this guy I follow on Twitter, I shall call him F, who is celebrating one year clean today. I'd love to say he's a friend but, to be honest, I don't know him all that well, he knows me even less and I think that would be a rather presumptuous statement to make. Suffice it to say, F makes me laugh (hard), cry (occasionally) and think (often) a lot more than he probably realizes. Reading of his achievement made me think two things. Firstly, that I'm awfully proud of him and secondly, that I will never ever get to share such a joyous moment with my brother, Jeff. In December of last year, he lost the ultimate battle with his addictions when he died on my mother's bathroom floor, all alone, succumbing to acute pancreatitis brought on by 20+ years of alcoholism and addiction. He was 36.
The first time Jeff admitted that he "thought he had a problem with drinking" he was 15 years old. I remember it being in the evening. He called my parents and I downstairs because he wanted to talk about something. Not long after, he entered the first of many treatment programs, none of which stuck.
I can't presume to know what Jeff's last moments, days or even months were like. Hell, I can't step into his shoes for even one moment. I know what his addictions cost me as his sister but that is a tale for another time. Despite everything he ever did to me, my mother, my husband, every unkind (okay, hideous) word he ever spoke in the midst of drunkenness, he did NOT deserve what happened to him. Nobody deserves that.
I will be filled with regret and loss every day for the rest of my life. But, unlike my brother, I still have the opportunity to LIVE a life, which has changed my perspective on my own deep-seated issues enormously (again, tales for another time). I miss my brother, who he once was, who he could have been again, and I always will.
So, to F, who may or may not ever read this, who may or may not ever become my friend, I congratulate you with my whole heart and I thank you for reminding me that not every addict's path has to end in a cemetery. Well, it does, as everyone's does, but it doesn't have to be as the result of active addiction. It can be in a nice warm bed, surrounded by loved ones, at the ripe old age of 103, Barbra's voice in the background, singing one off to sleep.
Wouldn't that be nice?