On Sunday my first friend, Tim Quimby, the boy across the street with whom I walked to school every day for years, often holding hands when were kindergartners, lost his beloved partner, Jerry, to cirrhosis, as he was holding his hand.
Nine years ago tonight, I was holding Steve’s hand as he took his last breath, also a victim of cirrhosis. It was seven years after our divorce.
Both Steve and Jerry died clean and sober, but the years of alcohol abuse had taken too much of a toll to change the trajectory, even though for Jerry, thanks to the Selkirk Foundation, there was a chance at a new liver because they believe that having a disease is not a moral failure.
Alcoholism is an awful disease, but make no mistake, it is a disease. No one chooses to be that miserable and to destroy their mind, body and spirit. And when someone has it, they need treatment and support to chose life.
I am grateful for all of my friends in recovery who are living life one day at a time. I see you and I am so proud of you. For anyone who is struggling, know that there is help. Go to Alcoholics Anonymous. Find a sponsor.
And if someone you love has this disease, check out Al-Anon. It helped keep me sane and allowed me to never struggle to see Steve in our children, to see all that was good as I cast away the chaff. Going to Al-Anon was why I never quit loving him but was also able to choose life for myself. The best advice I ever got at Al-Anon was, “As long as you are taking care of yourself, you are winning.” If you’ve ever loved someone with an addiction, you know what that means.
I find it hard to believe that those two little kids who played together every day for years both lost the true loves of their lives to the same disease, almost exactly nine years apart. Tonight, as I remember and mourn Steve, and pray for Tim, I am grateful for a God who came to heal all of our afflictions and who set Jerry and Steve free from the bondage of the disease that took their lives.