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The Last Moment

November 29
10:46 2019

By: Mike Rudon Jr.

Six people dead. Just like that. What were they thinking in their last moments? Maybe still relishing the joy of a loved one’s accomplishments…or maybe laughing at a silly joke. Maybe they were making plans for the weekend, or thinking of Christmas, or worrying about an unpaid bill or any number of things. I know what they weren’t thinking. That it would be their last moment on this earth. That they would never see friends and loved ones again. Anyway, I won’t get all maudlin. We all know life is short. We know the next breath isn’t promised. We know fate is fickle. Sometimes we forget, or push it to the back of our heads. But we know.

I didn’t know those who died, except maybe seeing them around. I know people who knew them well. I’ll leave them to grieve in peace, or on Facebook. It is sad. And it is a tragedy. And it made me think about another tragedy, one that doesn’t end in a moment, but plays out day after day after day. One that doesn’t only kill the body, but kills the spirit. One that is far reaching, and destructive, and every bit as terrible to watch as bodies strewn on a highway.

If you are not addicted to alcohol, or have lived long with a loved one addicted to alcohol, you won’t ever understand it. You probably won’t even get what I’m saying. You won’t understand how somebody could drive out the city, heading to pick up the kids, with plans for an amazing weekend – and somewhere between one mile and the next, there is a stop for a drink, just one. And the weekend is done, just like that. It happens. I can tell you it does. I can also tell you that many times, even drunks don’t understand what trips in their heads. So I mean no offence when I say that you won’t get it.

I’ve known, and still know, all kinds of alcoholics. I know the everyday drinkers. There are those who have given up on everything – on life, on themselves, on a future. They live for another drink, begging outside shops, on sidewalks, in little groups on street-corners. But there are also the everyday drinkers who are a step away from giving up. Maybe they are fortunate to still possess a little control, or blessed to have family which keeps holding on. I know the drinkers who can hardly wait for the weekend, every weekend, to drown their sorrows or celebrate their joys – whichever works. I know the drinkers who function, barely, and those who function well. I know the drinkers who sit calmly at home, with their families, oblivious to anything but pouring another drink when one is finished, and then passing out, to repeat the cycle the next day. I know the sad drinkers, the outrageously boisterous drinkers, the annoying drinkers. I even know those who can go weeks without the thought of a drink, but if, for any reason they take one, they are lost for a day, or two, or three, in a black hole where nothing matters – not work, not family, not relationships – nothing.

I had the opportunity to sit outside a club a while back – completely sober. I watched people going in, and I watched them coming out. I saw them staggering, completely lost. I saw fights break out for no reason. I watched so many of their faces, completely distorted by alcohol. Now that is a tragedy. I’ve lived it. I know. I was one of those persons too many times to count. I still am, when I don’t fight my demons and win.

Those six persons that died, in a second. Their families will be torn apart, their loved ones, their kids. It will be a Christmas they will never forget, for all the wrong reasons. I know, because I have lived it, that we alcoholics have destroyed many Christmases for our families, for our kids. And we can do better than that. There are so many victims of tragedies not of their own making. We drunks are victims of our own making. I know it’s not easy. Like I said, I’ve lived it. But we can determine that for this Christmas, we won’t take that first drink. We can keep away from situations which traditionally lead to drinking. We can avoid bars and clubs. We can learn from that horrific tragedy, and hold on to our families, and our kids. We can do it. I know, because I’ve done it. Let’s make this a good Christmas for our loved ones. We owe them at least that much.

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