Monday, February 16, 2009

The last one sober

Well, it seems that person is me. They tell you in rehab the odds are against you, manipulating the numbers to this message: only one person in this room will make it. That was what they told us almost three years ago, in a quiet little house in the mountains. A place where people cleaned up from all kinds of poison, finding some hope to make a new life, or recapture the best parts of an old one.

Until five months ago, there were two of us. Me, and S - I always referred to him as the "the other sober one." We live five miles apart, the two stubborn cusses that wouldn't drink no matter what. For quite a long time we kept each other strong through the fear, sorrow, insomnia and muscle pains. Phone calls and emails, any time of day or night.

We didn't have much else in common, and in time we became sporadic correspondents. Maybe we just stopped worrying about each other, and that was the wrong thing to do.

Just tonight, I heard from him; the news isn't good. He relapsed hard in November, going into liver failure after a few weeks of daily, constant drinking. Liver failure, indeed...he lapsed into a hepatic coma for about five weeks. The strong, handsome man is now an invalid, struggling to re-solidify the scrambled eggs in his brain. He's slowly improving, but the prognosis is an unknown - I've seen miracles, and I've seen death.

Pray for S.
Pray for everyone who wants that drink they shouldn't have.
Pray for the people I loved that died because they couldn't say - no.

Pray for me, too, because it's lonely to be the last one who wanted to keep living. I don't understand how they lost hope, and I haven't. Because hope isn't in the bottle, hope comes when you pour what's in the bottle down the drain.

Here's a little ditty for all those that are still in the game - She'll Have You Back. Name your she-devil and sing along.


Fred Schwartz said...

My mom was an alcoholic and I used to get phone calls at 3 in the morning. Finally, all seven of us, me, my older sister and the rest of the clan, did our own confrontation with my mom. No one won, in fact many of my brothers and sisters, if asked, might say the price was too high. She said some pretty awful things. BUT, she sobered up and stayed sober the rest of her life.

I have seen this monster up close and personal Not just my mom but two of my younger sisters including cocaine and heroin. It is a terrible thing and one that is fought everyday, almost every waking moment.
Your courage is remarkable and your perseverance is DYNOMITE!

Prayers will ascend for you each day!

Lynn said...

Fred, your family is in my prayers. I've been on your side, too, which makes it all the crazier that I got caught.

I'm one of those lucky ones; somehow I've been given a special form of God's grace - I rarely have problems staying away, it's as if I am almost completely re-wired. Almost. There have been just two difficult episodes lasting just a couple of hours, but they were scary. Dead scary. I have great compassion for those that have the tough times more often (but, I didn't for a long time).

I don't know how to react to this sad news about my friend S. I only know having a drink wasn't in the package, that's for certain.

Thanks for thinking I'm courageous, my friend! I'll happily take a dose of courage with my blessings :-)

Grandmère Mimi said...

Lynn, my father was an alcoholic, so I know the pain second hand. I'll pray for S. that he will come back to life.

I'll pray for you, too. I imagine that it's scary to be the last one still standing sober. Thanks be to God that your hard times are infrequent. May you continue to be strong with God's help.

Jake said...


My group was a mix of alcoholics and addicts. There was one guy I used to call...called him one time from the parking lot of a liquor store. He was the right person to reach out to...he'd cuss me out, and then order me to get my rear back where it belonged...which meant a meeting.

After about six months, I got word his family had found him one morning in the kitchen...stone cold dead with the needle still in his arm.

That wasn't the last burial I was to attend, unfortunately. I think one of the hardest was the elderly man who climbed in his car with the motor running in the garage and went to sleep. He didn't drink, though. I guess it was the only way he knew to die sober.

They told us that we had to make drastic life changes, or we would die. Most of us rolled our eyes. Now, nine years and way too many funerals later, I can attest to the truth of that dire warning.

For those who don't suffer from this affliction, may God continue to bless you. But please understand that for some of us, this is not simply a lack of willpower, or a minor character defect. It is a matter of life and death.

Today, I want to live. Thanks be to God. We'll have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.

I will remember your friend S. in my prayers.

Lynn said...

Jake, thanks for prayers. And perhaps even more for the story. My first reaction was, "why didn't he call? I have enough understanding now to realize I will never know the answer.

Mimi and Fred, people really do need to hear how their drinking touches and tears other people's lives. It takes a while to understand the full force of it, but it certainly is a huge deterrent for people like me.

I say it's fairly easy for me, and that's true. But you have all helped me remember I've worked damn hard to make it that way. With God's help - and believe me, I do ask for it. Then he sends me his angels, "to guide me along the way."