(I’m gonna tell you right now, having read this post I see that it is not at all light fare. The title should give you a hint about that, but just in case you think it might be about something else, it isn’t. This post is about people dying.)
Having lived in and around the world of booze for as long as I have, my list of people who are dead in the life just keeps on growing. Were it not so sad, it might be seen as some badge of honor, proof that one has lived it. Well, friends, I’ve lived it, and I can think over the last couple of decades of my life and see few periods untouched by people we’ve lost to their abuses.
I don’t sit and dwell on it, but if I sat down with a pen and really tried to put a number on it, I’d probably wind up somewhere in the low double digits. That’s 15 or so people who exited this world early because of something they chose to put it in their bodies.
Some of these were mere acquaintances, people I’d worked with usually, but some of them were among the dearest friends I ever had. The work acquaintances were typically younger, and I just feel sad remorse when one of them happens across my mind. The good friends, however, the life friends, no matter how far or long removed, what I feel is more like disbelief. How can they be gone so young? How can they be gone at all? I just can’t fathom that they’re not going for the remember when sessions of our old age.
And those younger ones, the heroin victims and more than one incident of someone putting something into his body, thinking it was one thing, but finding out too late that it was something else and that that something could and would kill him; my mind can’t help but to imagine what their last thoughts might have been like, if they bargained with God for just one more do over, if they knew that they never would have gotten on this path if they would have really realized it could have led to here. I had one friend know that his organs were shutting down and that he was dying, while he turned blue and waited for an ambulance that wouldn’t get there on time, and sometimes I can’t help but to wonder what all those thoughts were, the sadness, the regret, the wishing and hoping and praying and pleading.
It’s sad, I know, and I don’t mean to bum you out by it, but it’s just something that we need to talk about occasionally. I am so pleased to be out of that life, but I don’t kid myself into thinking that just because I’m out of it right now I’m guaranteed to be out of it forever. That’s the kind of selective thinking that kills people.
The thing is, all of these people made decisions based on what would ultimately be a false outcome to their selecting thinking, and most of them, if not all, did it too many times to count. If I were to one day say to myself, “Oh, one drink won’t kill you,” and then down the line of that slope I died in some way because of my drinking, then that selective thinking would prove wrong. It would also prove wrong with every ensuing drink, no matter what justifications I came up with for taking it.
These people all made countless decisions about what they could do that wouldn’t kill them, and all of those decisions ultimately proved wrong.
And I am glad that, for now, I am making better decisions about such things than I did for many years of my past, and I guess that I want the same for you. I’m not asking anyone to quit doing anything, and I don’t expect people to say that they have a problem with something when they really don’t have a problem with something; rather, I just want to remind you that we have to stay in charge of it and not let it be in charge of us. The list of people that I’ve known who have forgotten this is entirely too long as it is. It’s easy to think, “Oh, one more won’t kill you,” but we should never forget that it might.