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Guitar Man-The Brother I Loved
My Brother's Struggle with Drugs and Alcohol
The Journey of David's Alcoholism
Back several years ago, my father was dating a wonderful woman named Audrey. My mother had passed years earlier and dad met this kindhearted nurse in the hospital. The relationship did not last long as my father was an active alcoholic at the time, but I will never forget her. Thoughtfully, she invited my sister and I over for a slumber party to get to know us better. And so the story goes.......
Audrey knew I was eyeing her beautiful, wooden, acoustic guitar. The guitar seemed to be calling my name. She picked up the guitar that night and soon we were all singing. After the sing along, something very special happened. Audrey handed off her precious guitar into my arms. She said it was her gift to me. It was a powerful gesture that had repercussions I would not know for some time.
The morning I returned home from the slumber party, I started practicing the guitar. It became evident to me right away that this was not a talent I possessed. I can sing and write, but the guitar had a different suiter in mind. God always meant this to be in the hands of my brother David.
Wow! talk about raw talent. My older brother David was a year older than my twin sister and I. One day he asked if he could play with my guitar. "Of course you can." In just days he was jamming like a super star and could play almost anything. David, as many would learn, was a "musical genius.
No matter instrument, voice, charm, or the comic in him, Dave was a prize. He played bongos, drums, piano, and eventually realized he was a good singer. David was one of those blessed people that was born with a God given musical talent.
When David was in the room, there was nothing else. He pulled you in with his charm, wit and talent. Every time my twin sister and I would bring a date home, Dave would have them totally transfixed & laughing at his jokes. Linda and I wouldn't see our boyfriend's for hours. Dave would then become their buddy and they'd become forever friends. Back then, it was a frustration for us, especially when we'd bring our girl friend's over and they ended up hanging out with him and blowing us off. At times, he would end up dating some of them. Ugh!!!
Dave and his guitar were eternally bonded. Our entire family used to joke around that the guitar was just another appendage on David's body. Whether Dave was sad, happy, or looking for love, he'd just pick up his old friend, the guitar.
Family and friends would tell you that David, Linda and I looked and acted the most alike in our family of five. It was common place to see Dave, Linda, and I, singing for fundraisers, weddings and funerals. David would often invite his two younger sisters up on stage to sing harmony with him and the band. Music was a special connection that bonded the three of us together.
On a December day, as I decorated my foyer with fresh Pine branches for the Christmas holiday, I turned my attention to the breaking news story. My husband at the time screamed for me to come see something on television. I knew from the serious tone in his voice, this was not going to be good news; something bad was being reported.
It's still very difficult to talk about and even harder to write. If I write this story, then it must be true, right? There he was, my beautiful brother on the nine o'clock news. The headline went like this:
"Local Northwest Airlines Baggage Employee, pulled over for DUI and found with stolen luggage."
"Oh my God!" I exclaimed. "What more can our family go through." Understand, I was not saying this because of feelings of shame; I was saying it because I saw death in my dear brother's' tired, sunken eyes.
As I looked at David's haggard image on the TV screen looking back at me, I had a feeling of foreboding. I could sense that he was at the end stages of alcoholism. I just sobbed and sobbed, and then came the dark dreams....
I remember a particular dream I had soon after the news story aired. The dream was so vivid, I believed it to be real upon wakening. I dreamt my brother was in the ground, deep in a cemetery plot, grabbing and clawing at the soil and reaching out for me. He was caged in a dark like tomb. He could see me, but couldn't get out. I surmised this dream was symbolic of David's dark disease of alcoholism. David was struggling for a good part of his life to break the strong hold addiction had on him. This same disease took our mother thirty years earlier. David was tired and miserable with the shackles that was his addiction. He tried to crawl out of that dark tomb of addiction and went through treatment several times. Sadly, the power of his addiction was too strong and won the battle over my brother.
Tragically, David overdosed on alcohol and oxycontin in 2002. His lifeless body was found lying in bed fully clothed, in his apartment. It was deemed an accidental death due to large amounts of pain killers and alcohol which shut down his respiratory system.
Please, if there is anything my family has learned through this painful journey, it's that "THERE is HOPE and HELP for ADDICTION to ALCOHOL and DRUGS." You do not have to die from this debilitating disease. My hope is that my story can help educate others who struggle, so my brother's death is not in vain. My mother and brother died way too young. Mom was only thirty nine and David only forty.
© Laura Rogers Arne
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