Being the Child of an Alcoholic
When I was six years old, I remember my mom stopping me in the kitchen and asking me if her drinking bothered me. I looked at the can of diet Coke on the table and said that it didn't bother me at all. Little did I know, my mom was referring to the several glasses of wine she drank every night after my dad got home from work, and the mass quantities of rum consumed at my grandfather's house on the weekends. I didn't really know that I was living with an alcoholic until I was in the seventh grade. My mom would sometimes get angry at us for no reason or the littlest thing, my dad was sleeping on the couch a lot more and working later, and my brother and I were stuck in the middle. I accepted my mom had a drinking problem, that is until she died from her affliction in September of 2011. It was then that I had a swirl of confusion, questions, emotions, guilt, etc. And it wasn't until these stirred up that I really began thinking about my mother's problem and her disease, and how I've learned to grow from it. I hope this story helps some people
I got a phone call in September, a week into my first semester of my last year of college. I was graduating in May, and I was finally going to be able to settle back into the real world with my family and with my friends who I missed so damn much. My dad told me that my mom was being rushed to the hospital, that it wasn't good, and that I had to come home. I didn't really know what was going on other than the fact that my mom was sick and I had to be there for her. For about two weeks, she was ignoring my phone calls, and whenever we spoke she would yell at me for no reason and scream into the phone and then hang up on me.
When I got to the hospital in New York (from Massachusetts), I stepped into the ICU and saw what was not my mother but the shell that she used to inhabit, broken, battered, gaunt, and yellow. So very yellow. I sobbed before I entered the room. She told me to stop. She told me I shouldn't have come. She told me she was going to be fine. She said there was no pain. She said she could eat, that she wanted to walk, that she wanted to go home and see her dog. The doctors said no. They said 50/50. She said she never drank a lot. We said we found vodka bottles hidden all over the house for the past three months. Someone sold those to her. Someone sold that vodka to someone looking as sick as she was, and they did nothing about it. We did nothing about it. She told us nothing. She would yell when we reached out. She told me I was judging her, until we got to the hospital.
A few days passed by and my mom took my hand, apologizing for letting me down over my entire life. I cried onto her yellow and thin hand while her tiny wrists swam around beneath her hospital bracelets. I asked her why so many times, and she only replied with apologies. To this day I'll never know. A few more days passed by and she had an oxygen mask now. She had fluid in her lungs. She held my hand and spoke over a hissing machine saying I should stay with her just in case something happened. Delusional, she began to yell for her dog, and where he was, and that she wanted to go home. She made us leave, and little did I know that would be the last time I ever heard her tell me she loved me. And that would be the last time I told her it would be all right.
50/50 turned into twelve hours to live and last rights. She lay in a coma, her head swirling while the priest touched her head and said prayers. While we sobbed and she tossed her head around, wrinkling her yellow eyebrows under the man's dark black fingers. They moved her to a different room. The nurses let us bring the dog to the hospital to lay with her and say one last goodbye. We had to hold her arms and move her hands to touch his head while he cried into the nape of her neck and buried himself in her matted hair. That was the last time she ever made a noise. And she thought she was home. We brought home to her. Twelve hours turned into four days. Four long, arduous days where I didn't shower and lived on a floor until September 26 at 9:45am when I rolled over to look at her take her last breath. And I was alone. The room was empty, and I felt no one there. I went to find a nurse in my pajamas like a lost child so she could be pronounced dead. I said my goodbyes.
It took me months to admit what happened to myself. It took me months to accept that I couldn't help her, that she didn't want help, and that my tears wouldn't save someone who didn't want saving. It was simply apologies and fear. And how would I move on. I graduated college, partly as an obligation and partly out of fear that my mother would come and haunt me. I still talk to her all the time. I did research into alcoholism, and the disease it is, and I realized that I can do nothing but inspire people, because this disease requires the ailed to want help. In that case, all I can do is help myself.