It matters. It matters a lot. Before we know it, everything has the light of alcohol cast upon it.
It is easy for us to ignore the signs and symptoms of alcohol and drug use in our families. We excuse it in a thousand different ways. We ignore the increasing impact on the lives of our loved ones and us as the consumption of these substances increases. It’s too hard for us, sometimes, to acknowledge that addiction is a snowball rolling down a hill that eventually will be so huge, there will be no stopping it until it reaches the bottom, crashes against something, and bursts apart. Often, that crash is permanent, as it was for my brother, David.
David was forty-five-years-old when he died. He was a father of two and grandfather of two beautiful little girls.
David had been drinking since his teens. The first time I ever saw him drunk was in 1974 when he was thirteen-years-old. He had stayed at a friend’s house and they had gone to a party in the forest surrounding our small, mountain hometown. There was ample alcohol there. He came home the next morning and passed out.
After he had become an adult, his drinking didn’t prevent him from going to work, graduating from trade school, and eventually achieving a great deal of success in his work as an electrician. No one spoke about his alcoholism in any significant way until his wife left him and took his children. They lost the house, his job, their boat, and everything else he had worked so hard for. He now had several DUI’s he’d collected along the way, as well. Most importantly, he lost his family.
It’s not as though he didn’t love his family. He did very much. It was that his addiction was too great.
He had come to Dunsmuir to stay at our mother’s house as she was dying from pancreatic cancer. David hadn’t been drinking to excess during that time. He was drinking enough to keep the withdrawl symptoms at bay, but the closer Mom got to her death, the more he drank.
After she died in November 2005, my daughters and I left, after having spent two months caring for Mom. David had inherited the house and chose to stay there. He didn’t pay the bills, though. He wouldn’t answer the phone, while it was on. It was winter and eventually, the house got very cold after he didn’t pay the gas bill. He developed frostbite. Between the alcohol and the freezing weather, he was growing more ill.
In the early morning of March 9, 2006, he was walking to the gas station at the corner to get some beer. He collapsed and had a seizure. After a very messy rescue, he was transported to the hospital where they were warming him up from the frostbite. He was doing very well. As his veins began expanding, however, a blood clot was released, it went into his lungs, stopped the blood flow to his heart, and he died instantly.
This deeply loved father, grandfather, brother, and friend, was gone. We had lost my mother on November 23, 2005 and David on March 9, 2006. One was unavoidable. The other was not.
There was a political battle being waged in the newspaper over my brother’s death regarding the response by the police and fire and rescue departments. His death was dragged through the newspapers for months afterward. It was very painful.
All this start with just a few beers. It was those few beers… times thousands… that killed my brother.
Contact Above the Influence for information about how to identify addiction, find treatment, and deal with the consequences of these addictions. This call won’t wait another day. This call could save you, your loved one, or someone you’ve never met.