The Needle and the Damage Done (January 17 2013)

So he had COPD and emphysema from smoking cigarettes, and he was still smoking.  He had Hepatitis C from shooting heroin and was still shooting.  He had oxygen and a walker, false teeth and false hair, all at 60.  He had malnutrition, and his refrigerator had beer and Ensure.  He had prescriptions and pills and Methadone in the bathroom.  He had carpets that were black in huge areas from dropped cigarettes.  He had years of mail about his bills.  This was truly someone who took more than he gave.

He had Big Books and rehabs and several “recovery plans,” one of which Carole kept.  He had a girlfriend (years ago).  She kept journals and I just read her “recovery journal” from 1995.  She had the struggles that a lot of us have.  She met him toward the end of the journal.  She had relapses and she was grateful for second chances.  She died of a drug overdose a few years ago, at his place.

He had needles everywhere.  As we sifted through his “stuff” looking for what we might save for some reason, we opened boxes and boxes of used needles.  Wooden boxes and cardboard boxes.

He had several pictures of our kids, and things they had made in elementary school.  Now I admit I’m a bitter ex, but I can’t imagine what he thought about when he looked at those pictures every day, and especially on the days that he tried to legally give me as little as possible for them.  And on the days when he didn’t call them or see them.  Most days.  Almost every single day of his pitiful, miserable life.

The funeral guy complimented me on those kids.  Carole said it was something good that he did but you know what?  A dog can have a baby.  A worm can reproduce itself.

He had a band when he was young, four guys and a name referencing heroin use.  I guess that was cool.  He stayed in touch with one of the guys, his best friend, the best man at our wedding and the God father of our kids.  I looked his friend up, thinking he might want to know that his friend was gone, and I found that he had died in 1999, at around 49 years old.

If not for those kids, I don’t know who would have arranged the disposal of his body, and his stuff, and who would have inherited the part of his parents’ estate that he didn’t waste on illegal drugs and the medical care their use brought about.  I guess that happens every day.

For today, the legacy of those poor, dead losers has contributed to my ongoing sobriety, and I hope it has helped yours as well.

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