A Fatal Descent Into Drugs, Booze
Wednesday - April 22, 2009
At the end, when he died, I couldn’t even cry.
It wasn’t that I didn’t care. He had been a friend, a good one, many years ago. The girl he was with at the time is still my best friend today. He had everything going for him then: youth, good looks and a profitable business he’d started from scratch. He and my friend enjoyed a lifestyle that many envied because they could afford the best of everything. I admired his taste in cars, food and wine. The wine that would eventually kill him.
When I think back on it now, the memories are tinged with a bleak fore-shadowing. The good times always revolved around the alcohol - tipsy evenings at restaurants, a shared bottle in their very nice apartment, wine tasting parties. He had discriminating taste and he was fun to be around.
When did the fun evolve into something more sinister?
The change in him occurred gradually, and then more rapidly as time passed. I knew - but never saw firsthand - that drugs had entered the picture. He broke up with his girlfriend, my friend, in a strangely cruel way. Eventually he lost it all: business, cars, friendships and especially relationships. There were always new ones, of course, but they didn’t last. He and I would occasionally reconnect for brief periods, trying to find the closeness we once had. But it didn’t happen.
“I’ll change, if you help me,” he promised at one point. But I think by that time I had seen the progression his life had taken, and I understood that he would not. I felt guilty for a time, but realized finally that it wasn’t in my power, or anyone else’s, to turn him around. It was up to him. He had to want to do it for himself, and it was something he would never commit to.
After that I’d hear from him from time to time. He’d call at night, drunk, and ramble on and on until I ended the call. I didn’t like doing it, but it wasn’t like I was talking to anyone I knew. He was a stranger now. There was no resemblance to the sparkling, smart, witty man he once was. I saw him one last time and was shocked at his appearance. In 10 years he had aged 30. I couldn’t have a real conversation with him, he was evasive, batting away any topic that made him uncomfortable. And when we parted, I was indescribably sad.
I’m not sure if he stopped using drugs, although he swore he had. But I know for a fact that he never gave up the alcohol. The difference was he no longer chose his wines carefully. He wasn’t discriminating anymore. He couldn’t afford to be.
In the last few years he avoided most people he knew. I heard bits and pieces about him secondhand, and it was never good. Occasionally I’d get another drunken call, and there was no way to get through to him in any meaningful way. When he ended up in the hospital two weeks ago, his tortured liver finally giving out, I was not surprised. And then he died.
I didn’t know what to feel. I still don’t, and it bothers me. I should grieve. He had been a friend. I once cared for him. But he left us all behind long ago for something he wanted - craved - even more than our help and support. Even more than friendship. Even more than love. I’m sure he knew it would kill him. He just didn’t care.
He died a few days ago. But I had already said my goodbyes - a long time before. Now, at least, he can rest in peace.
E-mail this story | Print this page | Comments (0) | Archive | RSS Comments (0) |
Most Recent Comment(s):