This week I’ve had a few similar conversations with friends who are, like me, a matter of days removed from extreme intoxication. We’ve fondly looked back at the time we put together earlier this year when we were working a program, we were clean, and we all chuckle in agreement with each other about how, funnily enough, those were damn good times.
“That was actually a really nice time, wasn’t it?” my friend said to me this afternoon.
“Fuck yeah it was. Even when I was exhausted and not sleeping well it was nice waking up to have a fresh cup of coffee with my bros, watchin’ the sunrise, shootin’ the shit.” My biggest problem for a while was a scheduling conflict that interrupted my afternoon nap. Those really were the days.
So when I was driving home earlier I found it so strange that I began to think about getting high, when all I’ve been talking about these past few days is how nice it is being clean. In a few moments, my thoughts turned to how I could get together some money to score. But it’s the fucking 4th of July, where can I get rigs if the pharmacies are closed? Maybe I could cook up some crack instead, it’s been a while since I’ve had a nice smoke.
My mind salivates as if in anticipation of a perfectly grilled steak. I doubt my girlfriend will find out. I can wait a few extra days before I move into sober living where I will be tested and so they’ll be none the wiser.
The next thought that crossed my mind was unexpected.
Less than a week ago, I found my friend dead in his apartment. He had overdosed during the night. I called 911 etc., the cops said they would contact his parents. The next morning, I get a call from his mother, who evidently had not been contacted and told of her sons fate, so I proceeded to.
It was still early in the morning, and as I slurped my cup of coffee I simply did not anticipate that in a few moments I would be telling a mother that her 23 year old son was gone. I had not considered this conversation for even a second in my mind, autopilot kicked in and got me through it. I guess I recalled some etiquette from a movie I’d seen at some point, so I said, “I think you might want to sit down”.
Is that really something people say before delivering the worst imaginable news? I don’t know where I picked it up from, but I said it, as if it would somehow soften the blow.
As a struggling mother of an addict, this is the call I assume they fear, the call that keeps them up at night. A shiver down the spine when an unknown caller dials. As she happened to be calling me, I believe on some level she had been preparing herself, as much as one possibly can prepare themselves for this kind of thing, for this unfortunate inevitability.
And so this episode pops into my head when I’m about ready to push the button, and I recall what his Mom said to me at the end of that conversation. “I just don’t want his life to have meant nothing. Even if all it means is that you stay sober Alex, that will be good enough for me.”
And I remember right after I got off the phone with her, I sat there and let that sink in. I thought that moment was my enlightenment. I thought that from that moment on, I would be on a crusade to fulfill this wish and stay sober, thereby giving my friends life a meaning.
But as I thought about getting high, recounting this episode, I found myself thinking, “meh, whatever”.
Isn’t that sad?