Saturday, January 05, 2008

January 5, 2008

One of those dead of winter mornings I love. Freezing cold, sunny skies, soft pastel shades and all quiet on the street and in the house. The quiet is disrupted by an idling ambulance outside, are they here for Gigi, my next door neighbor who had her leg amputated? No, I see C.C., my alcoholic neighbor stumble into the back. He’s a mess that one—yellow from jaundice, bruised all over like an overripe peach, but at least he’s able to walk into an ambulance and go to a place where he can be treated. Unlike my friend Chris in San Diego.
Chris has been battling alcohol for many years and now it has taken a toll on his body. Last November he lost his boyfriend, and drinking partner, to alcoholism. Poor Brian’s liver couldn’t handle any more and he died in Chris’ arms on the living room floor. Now Chris is recreating all of that except he has no one to hold him as he slowly puts himself to rest. He refuses all help, sends away the paramedics when his family or friends call 9-1-1, doesn’t answer the phone and lays in bed sleeping, too weak to get to the bathroom or answer the door. Friends and family stop in to check in on him and try to convince him to get help. I’m tempted to fly out but I know it will be pointless. I can’t do anything for him, he must take the first step if he wants to recover from this dreadful disease. A large part of me awaits the phone call from his sister to tell me he is dead, a smaller, more optimistic part waits to hear he’s finally decided to go to the hospital and detox himself.
Pockets of life tucked away in every corner of the globe. In any home one can find joy and grief. Sometimes the bright, happy outside of a house masks darker, sadder secrets inside. The soft winter sun rises here in Brooklyn, the backs of the houses outside my kitchen window appear through the bare branched tree in Pete’s yard. Cats snuggle next to the radiator in post-breakfast dreams. The yellow kitchen glows from the morning sun. Happiness abounds in this home. On the other coast a bright crème coloured house awaits to be warmed in the bright California sun. The big old poinsettia tree is ablaze in red splendour, the sky a clear blue. The beauty outside this small house hides the stench and misery of a life worn down by alcohol. Will that brightness be able to penetrate into the darkness, breathing fresh, healthy air into this pocket of misery? Readers will have to check in to see what happens next.

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