Whenever I learn of an addict dying, another ember in my soul is extinguished. It’s not that I’m necessarily surprised by these deaths; it’s more a matter that I’ve usually known the deceased in a way that gave me hope that they wouldn’t wind up dead.
Recently, I learned that a man I knew within a treatment facility died of frostbite. At least, that was the official cause of death. I have no doubt that his diseased liver contributed to his death: “Jasper” had was addicted to alcohol for over 30 years.
When I met him, he was detoxing and was therefore not all that able to communicate effectively. Really, as is the case with most who are detoxing from alcohol, he mostly wanted to be left alone and didn’t have the strength to talk. During the writing class I taught, he didn’t even bother to scribble one word – he just slumped in a chair and stared into an abyss only he could see. But after a couple of weeks, he at least would ask questions in class and smile once in a while. His black eyes seemed to brighten as he healed from his body’s violent withdrawal.
But then, one day, he handed me a note. “Here,” he said. “This sums up everything I have to say and write about my alcoholism.”
I looked at the note that said in handwriting that looked like it was done by a second grader:
I read those words, over and over again and each time I did, I felt his pain and anguish more and more strongly. No matter how many other things I’ve read, graded, and written, I think Jasper’s 7 words say it all.
So, I pray he and others whose Addiction kills them, rest in peace. I thank God that his liver no longer hurts.