Today I was walking through our local park and I suddenly remembered my first meeting with a lady who lived locally to me. We met when our boys were playing on the swings tour local park. She was a tiny smiley lady and we chatted for ages about the school that our boys were attending and just life in general. I really enjoyed chatting to her especially as the other Mums at the school had so far not been the most welcoming.
I would see this lady most days as she took her two children to school, every time I saw her she would have a huge smile and say hello. It was obvious that she adored her children. And they adored her.
I hadn’t seen her for a while and then she turned up at the school with a badly broken leg, everyday she would struggle to get the children to school, even though she didn’t drive. And she still had that huge grin on her face, I did notice that she had got even smaller (in weight) but just figured that running around after two small children would do that to you.
Eventually, I stopped seeing her. We were all so busy that I didn’t really think about it much until a friend told me that her children had been taken away. That the lady had a drink problem and the children now lived with their Dad. Her leg had been broken when she had fallen down the stairs whilst drunk and she was unable to stop drinking. I was so shocked, I had no idea that this was the case. Why would I? I even wondered if this was true. I was sad for her and would see her around occasionally, she still had that wonderful smile even though she was going through hell. When I was told about her alcohol problems, my heart dropped, could that be me one day? The friend who had told me had no idea that I was worried about my own drinking.
Time went on and I stopped drinking again. I was finally sober, I would occasionally wonder how the lady was, especially now that I was sober. One day I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw her photograph being shared all over the local groups. This lovely young lady had died. Her addiction had killed her. Her brother wrote a beautiful but heartbreaking post about how hard she had battled her demons, how much she had adored her children and was devastated when she had lost them and how much they had loved her. She had died of kidney failure due to alcohol abuse. She was gone.
Although I didn’t know her well, this death really affected me. Obviously because it was just such a loss for her family and her friends, but also because I knew that this could be me too. I later heard how badly she had been suffering with her addiction and although I wasn’t there yet, I could have been easily. For all that time I had no idea that she’d had an issue. How many others are walking around suffering like this and we just don’t know. I will admit, I did shed a few tears over her, it was tragic.
Sadly, this is the truth about alcohol, we can all become complacent and miss the life we thought we had. To feel boring or feel like we are missing out. But the truth is that if we have this addiction and we don’t work on dealing with it. There is only one ending. And honestly, living a life where your main concern is getting alcohol, drinking alcohol, not drinking alcohol etc is the most soul destroying and boring thing I can imagine now.
So today, when I went to that park and remembered that day by the swings I made a little promise to myself that not only will I keep working at staying sober for me and my family, but I will also do it in memory of the lady with the lovely smile*, because she didn’t get that chance and I am lucky enough that I do have that chance.
*I am not mentioning her name as I don’t feel it would be right to do so.