In celebration of he….

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He had red hair, fair skin and a multitude of freckle. When he was out in the sun, where he loved to be, he would get more freckles. His eyes were a beautiful shade of blue, both his smile and his laugh were contagious. He was kind, caring, sweet, and extremely humorous, he loved people, he loved life. He was 31 years old when I met him, and we lived together for almost a decade. We were engaged to be married, though that never transpired. He introduced me to culture of many types, he taught me that it is possible to start over, to open my heart and trust in another. He was highly intelligent, thus his wit, brilliant. He was the first man to touch my face, cup my cheeks in his hands and hold me until tears stopped and the last man I loved.

Some things aren’t meant to be. I fell madly in love with him, adored him. We shared laughter, belly rolls, tears that rolled down our faces from laughing so hard. We also cried together, once when our dog Molly was hit by a truck in front of my house, and died instantly. We rescued her from the humane society, she was a beautiful dog, they were the best of buds. Though he wanted I would not agree to another dog, so he adopted two kittens, Zoe &Chloe, whom I still have today. After a year I gave in and he got Brody, an Australian shepherd that was sometimes smarter than I was. He was an exceptional dog, stunning, snotty to other dogs (with the exception of his own breed and a few other dogs) I lost Brody this past January, he was 13.

I believe there are some things that we will never get over, time gifts us with the ability to coexist with pain, it doesn’t erase nor cure our broken hearts. I have learned that when someone you love passes, the love never goes away, in fact, it miraculously grows. At least I have found this to be true. Today he would have turned 50, we were both Sagittarius, I was 2 years and 11 days old older than he. Throughout our relationship his disease progressed, at times he was unrecognizable, then he would become himself again. We managed to come back from these times, though each bout would last longer, be more destructive than the last until he reached a point where I felt he was more disease than himself. Seldom and infrequently towards the end, I would catch glimpses of his old self, I would grab on, hold strong, hope that he would get better. He did not. He was an alcoholic, a binge drinker. He was a very sick man. He would go months without a drink and then would indulge himself to a point of oblivion, from his life, from me. He never promised to get sober, and he would call his drinking his “best friend”. Too many times I felt I was taking back seat to booze. It was almost like he had a mistress. It was powerful, it was awful, it was devastating and certainly sabotaging.

It got to a point where I had to choose, he or me. I chose me. Living with addiction takes on a world of its own. It robs you of those you love, almost like a body snatcher. I could look at him, see him, but I had to remind myself when we parted and I saw him out, it was an imposter. The man I loved drowned in alcohol and his fate yet, was to be determined. I told him I didn’t want to watch him kill himself, which happened four years and a half years after we parted ways. He died the day after his 46th birthday, tomorrow the 4th anniversary of his passing. I do not like to say “he killed himself” because what really killed him was alcoholism. But we blame them, its victims for not getting sober, not getting clean. He died a very gruesome death, cirrhosis. He died in the home of another woman, one whom he had been seeing for a few months. He told her no doctors, no hospital, no rescue, I guess he didn’t want to go what he had gone through a couple years before when he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and cirrhosis.

Though our lives were worlds apart, I always kept track of him, I wanted to know where he was in the world. Until he died I didn’t realize that I was hoping he would get clean, get better so we could find our way back together. I always hoped and prayed that he would find sobriety, he never did. The day after I learned of his death, learned by googling his name and finding his obituary, I went to his parents. They live outside of Albany, NY in a small quaint town, the town, the home in which he grew up. I was angry with them for not calling to tell me he had died. As I was walking into their house, each step closer to the door I realized, to his parents, I was long gone,but for me, I never left. Miraculously some addicts do go into remission, into recovery but not without a total transformation of their thoughts. It is cunning, it is baffling, it is one deadly awful disease, far too many inflicted and more affected. I hate addiction, I hate what it does to people, I hate what it did and is doing to people I love, I hate what it does to any of its victims, their loved ones. I hate what it takes from them, I hate what it takes from their loved ones, I hate what it took from me.

I used to think “If you loved me, you would stop drinking”. I know now, his drinking had absolutely nothing to do with me, but it certainly affected me negatively. No addict asks or seeks to be one. Why would anyone wish such awful disease on themselves? But it is hard to remember that when one is in the throws of the addiction, when you look at them, visually see the person you love but their actions, their choices, their reality is not recognizable. Why are they doing this? Why are they destroying their lives, hurting others, casting loved ones aside for what? For fluid? For alcohol?
You don’t have to drink, do drugs to have it rip apart your world and have you living a chaotic insane existence, you just have to love someone who does. The consequences of addiction go well beyond the addict.

I think of him daily, I talk to him much. Some days I can smile, today is one of them, I am grateful, today I am granted peace, acceptance. At least I know the disease doesn’t have him anymore. As strange as this may sound, he is safe, he is alright, he is at peace. He is no longer controlled by the disease of addiction. I am grateful for this. I will always love him, I will never forget him, and I prefer to look to the good in him, in us. I have no regrets. Though I don’t think I would choose to do it all over again, no regrets. I wished then and still wish now that the ending would be different. I did everything I could, and then some, and ultimately had to learn to love myself more than him, I had to save myself and say goodbye to him. I choose to not think of the painful times. If I in anyway implied that our life together was perfect, that was certainly not the case. Living with addiction is something I wish on no one. I do know I am a better person for having known him, for having loved him, for accepting his love. He was a wonderful person who got lost in the vortex of addiction, sadly like far too many others.

I smile today, and will light a candle, wish him a Happy Birthday. Though he will never be 50 I will always acknowledge the day that beautiful soul came into this world. Happy Birthday Jim…. Happy Birthday. And tomorrow I will acknowledge when that beautiful soul left this world.

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