I am angry, very angry. There is a little I am doing to hide it, but it is boiling away inside.
On Sunday morning (at 7.25) I received a phone call from a friend. When I asked how he was he said not well, and when I asked why he said C is dead, then his voice went all wobbly and his girlfriend took over his phone. His daughter C was (hard tense change that one) was a lovely woman. Very bright, warmhearted, generous with a lovely sense of the rediculous, and an infectious laugh.
So I asked what had happened, expecting something like a car accident.
The explanation was what made me so angry. She had died from the consequences of alcoholism/alcohol addiction. No matter what she had tried, she had been unable to break the addiction and had drunk herself to death; death by failure of major organs. She had become thinner and thinner as they failed. She had hidden the final stages from most people and sworn those close to her (her partner, the domestic help) to not tell anyone. Not to take her to a doctor. Eventually when her partner called her father it was too late for anything to help.
I had suspected a SLIGHT problem when I had met her at family lunches etc, the personality change after a while (fuelled by how much alcohol?). She had become a bit of a Duracell-bunny getting a bit frenetic, but still funny, friendly etc. It had obviously escalated quite dramatically over time.
What makes me so angry is the sheer helplessness we have in the face of the self-destruction by addicts. Alcohol or drugs, it doesn’t matter. Some of the lucky ones come through (my brother being one of them) but so many die, unspoken, as families seem to feel it is an embarassing matter. My anger is the anger of one who does not like being unable to help, of one so sad to see lives lost “unnecessarily” to a disease that has its roots in sociability.
How can one be angry with families and friends of those afflicted? We, my family, didn’t realise the extent of the problem, until it was almost too late. Addicts hide their addiction, lie, pretend.
Adult addicts have to take responsibility for themselves. It is hard to forceably shut an adult in rehab, and unless the person wants a ‘normal’ life they will slip back into the addiction. But for some it is a physical addiction, impossible to break, for others there are psychological causes as well. How do we know another’s pain?
One business acquaintence died when she went back to the drugs she had taken before rehab. Quite common apparently, when someone takes drugs at the same level they did before rehab. Their bodies had previously built up a ‘coping mechanism’ for that level of drug, but taking it from a ‘cold’ state can be fatal.
C’s funeral was on Sunday, the family being Jewish. The rabbi mixed common sense with compassion in the service, a good and sensible man. The father, my friend had aged 10 years overnight. I was so worried over him, accompanying the coffin on quite a long walk mostly uphill in 30 degree afternoon temperature. I wanted to cry for him when the soil thudded down on the coffin, he being the first to start filling in the grave. I think that is the loneliest sound in the universe.
So my anger remains, my sadness remains. My friend has lost his daughter who he loved so much.