Updated: Apr 10
"Addiction is the only prison where the locks are on the inside."
Jails, institutions or death are the usual outcomes with alcoholism and addiction. I knew toward the end of my active drinking I was losing my mind and my physical health. When that reality hit I entered a detox and then rehab.
In the past few years, I've pulled my simple, black, funeral dress out of my closet more times than I've wanted. In my first sober year alone, I've known several people who overdosed and died. This past year I've gone to two funerals. Now I have another.
I saw the flyer at my morning recovery meeting the other day. I haven't been to a live meeting for three weeks due to Covid (my husband and I both caught it). My friend "Patty"'s bright and smiling face was on the top of the flyer along with, "Come Join Us to Celebrate Patty's Life."
I thought, "How nice! Patty's having a party. She must be celebrating her retirement or a big birthday."
Silly, delusional me. I finally read the rest of the flyer and realized she had passed away since I last saw her three short weeks ago. My eyes were welling up when I suddenly realized a man was standing in front of me. "Will you be going to her celebration?" he asked. "Of course! I really liked Patty!" I cried and then asked if he was her husband. "Fiance," he replied. He told me it was a heart attack.
As I drove home I felt relief she hadn't relapsed and it was natural causes, but then I started thinking. "Patty" was relatively young (67) and in good shape. I often saw her at our local YMCA either swimming or in Zumba. The last words I said to her were, "I'll see you at the Y!" She smiled and said, "Yes. I have to get back soon." I wondered if her years of heavy drinking had strained her heart. I often wonder about my own health and how I damaged my body for years. I still have brittle nails and am often fatigued. That's probably a result of pouring poison into myself. How could my body NOT be affected?
The American Heart Association (AHA) explains that drinking excess alcohol can raise triglyceride levels in the blood. High triglyceride levels, in combination with either excess low-density lipoprotein cholesterol or insufficient high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, can lead to fatty buildups in the artery walls. This increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
So I'll be going to my friend's "party" this Sunday and I'll be pulling out that black dress from my closet again. But Patty was very "artsy" and loved whimsical sweaters and chic blouses. I'll add my new cool/artsy jacket I recently bought in Woodstock, N.Y.
I wanted to show Patty that jacket the next time I saw her. She would have loved it.