I wrote about my wife’s cousin passing the other day in a very short, simple post. Today, we will say goodbye.
To be very clear, she drank herself to death at the age of 44.
It wasn’t anything other than an over-consumption of alcohol over maybe 25-ish of those 44 years that killed her. Her death was not pretty. It was uglier than Leaving Las Vegas. It was also completely unnecessary. She could have quit drinking five years ago and been living a healthy life with a few simple choices, an entire tain-load of meetings, and working Twelve Steps. She could have quit last year and gone on a liver transplant list.
The only thing between her and life was air and opportunity. And choice.
I left that lifestyle in the rearview mirror when I was just 22 years-old. I quit drinking when I was just getting good at it, because I saw what was coming. I knew (or maybe hoped is a better word) I was meant for better than a bloated, yellow death. Technically, I already had begun developing the telltale yellow hue.
I still get the inevitable “but how do you know you’re an alcoholic” question. It’s generally followed immediately, and before I can answer the first question, by “how do you know you can’t drink anymore”?
The answer to the second question is simple and easier that the first: I know I can’t drink successfully because I will always be a two-fisted drinker. I don’t want to drink, I want drunk.
So that leaves, how do I know I’m an alcoholic, having quit so young?
Here’s the honest answer: I take it on faith. I don’t know that I’m not “cured”, that twenty-five years off of booze didn’t fix me…. Except for one little hitch in the giddyup; I don’t want to drink. I want drunk. As they say, “once you’re a pickle, you don’t get to go back to being a cucumber.”
I continue going to meetings, working steps, and helping others achieve sobriety because I don’t want anyone to have to watch me bloat up, change colors, have my teeth rot out if my melon, all followed by a nap I won’t wake up from…. The real question is, “How could being able to drink a beer be worth that risk?”
Someone who isn’t an alcoholic wouldn’t have to ask the question in the first place.
Saying Goodbye means no more of these moments:
Now, who in their right mind would trade that for a case of beer, and a quick death?