I debated writing this post, and once it was written I debated publishing it. But I think I needed to. Sorry to be a drag, today.
You guys know I like a nice cocktail now and then. It's not a big secret. But here's the thing: I'm a social drinker. If no-one will join me in a drink, I don't have one. I've always been that way. I'm not judging - I know a lot of people who enjoy a solitary libation from time to time and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. From time to time. But it ain't me. Drinking has never been a compulsion. I enjoy it. A lot. But I can take it or leave it.
Today a memorial service will be held for my cousin. I will not be attending, as I am currently visiting relatives from the other side of my family on the other side of the state. But I'm thinking about him and memorializing him myself the only way I know how. I hope I can do so with some degree of kindness. You see, for the second time in the course of a year, I find myself mourning the loss of someone way too young. Both were victims of the same killer, and that killer is kind of a nodding acquaintance of mine, too. I'm talking, of course, about alcohol.
My cousin was 45 years old. But he didn't live 45 years. I was thinking about that this morning when I thought about the people he's left behind. He didn't really leave anyone behind when he breathed his last breathe on Sunday. He left people behind, one at a time, years ago - when his addiction started to take over. He left his mother behind, only to return to her when everything else was lost. His wife, his children, his friends, his employability - when everyone else had finally had enough and turned their back on him, his mother took him in. He thanked her for her unconditional love by stealing from her to finance his habit.
It would be easy to hate him. He became something quite ugly and unrecognizable. There was nothing left in him of the playmate of my youth.
I don't hate him, though. I can't. None of this was him. It was his demon. The demon that licked at him for years - seducing him - making itself look playful and fun - before devouring him completely. It left a path of devastation in it's wake - a destroyed marriage, sons who wanted nothing more to do with their father, an able-bodied, educated man who couldn't find or hold a job. A man who didn't even care about any of that as long as he knew where his next bottle was coming from.
I don't mourn that man today, but I do mourn the man he might have been.
As wrong and contradictory as it may sound, I may mourn him over a glass of wine. If I can find someone to join me in one.
RIP, my cousin. May you find the peace in death that eluded you in the last years of life.