He was slumped over, the brass buckle coming to rest on the silver hair that covered his head. The cracked wooden bar hung above a pile of shirts, stained with his blood from the failed attempt to cut deep enough. The leather strap tied in a knot had broken in two from the strain, his dead weight pulling on it for days. A black tee-shirt and grey gym shorts were all that covered him, as his body started to decompose, in the tiny closet of his small run down studio apartment.
He had been sober for over a year, a fact no one knew about until it was too late to tell him, “congratulations”. The struggle with alcohol had been seen as a character defect in his ironically addicted filled family, with most of them cutting contact with him years ago. He knew he was an alcoholic, and during that year of sobriety knew that one drink would be the start of the end.
His last year had been filled with hope and a happy optimism for the chance to once again have the accomplishments he craved. His ability to make something from nothing had been acquired from the success and many failures he had experienced in his 63 years. Four years of struggling with homelessness and a year of not drinking had changed his definition of what he considered success and what it meant to have it all.
No longer was a Porsche wanted, just anything that would get him to his destination. The dream of buying a condo with cash no longer mattered, just the peace of mind knowing his weekly rent was paid. Having enough quarters to wash the few clothes he owned had replaced the desire to pick from a sea of garments covered in plastic from the local dry cleaner. The ability to pick up dinner from a hole in the wall Mexican food place once a week, would have been the icing on his chocolate cake.
Sadly, a summer that had started with such promise had turned into a fall with too many disappointments. The many hurts, and too much suffering, had crushed his fight to “keep punching the bag “‘, as he liked to say. The pain unbearable, he walked across the street, knowing the purchase he was about to make would be the beginning of his end.
Days following his first drink, had been filled with unsuccessful attempts to reach out to the family that had turn their backs. E-mails written, never to be sent. Phone calls made, never to be answered. Misunderstandings clouded with stubbornness and greed would continue to linger, the guilt never to be lifted. He would remain alone with the demons screaming in his head.
His heart had been kind and generous, always giving what he was able…money, time, advice, friendship, encouragement, laughter…He was loved greatly, and forever remembered by the ones he left behind.