Demons Drinking In His Head

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.

Change is a Decision

Start by making a step in the direction of change…Keep putting one foot in front of the other…It wont be long before you look back and realize it would be a change to go back…

Simple Tom

Change is a Decision

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The Unavoidable Move

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You hear the click as the new lock settles into place behind you. The words being spoken come at you like a tornado with no sound.  Your mind so loud with your own jumbled thoughts, nodding yes is all you can do.  Feeling the weight of the bag hanging off your shaking shoulder you wonder if it holds what you will need.

 You wait…You lean against the old reliable truck trying to stop the spin of ideas flying through your head when you realize the gas gauge reads empty. Gazing at the horizon you recognize the outline of the faded four-door sedan break free from the glare of the sun.  As it drives slowly towards you the protective walls your mind created start to crumble; allowing the once contained ominous feelings fill your soul with dread.

Your mind is blank when you hear your son’s laughter coming from the sedan. He smiles at the inside joke only his father understands.  The vacant look in your eyes is a tell he learned months ago.  As you try to explain, the reassurance in your voice fades with each word.

Your wife smiles at you through the rear-view mirror.  The split second eye contact shared says more than words ever will.  Driving away your mind becomes stuck in a flood of “what if’s” that cannot be answered.  You wonder which decision started this path you are quickly sliding down. Hoping for the direction to change soon, you pray you are not wandering in the wilderness.

The knock on the window jars your mind back.  Watching him open the door you wonder what is going on in his head.  His smile still flashes effortlessly, but his eyes show wisdom well past his years. You flash back to a picture of your home cluttered with possessions collected over time.  Anything of real value had been sold months ago in a futile effort to keep your head above water. Your eyes start to burn holding back the tears.  Hoping he does not hear the despair in your voice you ask him about his day.

The rhythmic tick coming from the clock is interrupted with a noisy crackle followed by the voice of your principal seamlessly rambling about nothing.  The ringing bell is always a welcomed sound. A friend asks if you can hang out on Sunday.  You reply with variation of a story you often use for an excuse.  You grab the faded backpack and let it settle on your shoulders. The weight feels heavy as you walk out the door into the bright sunlight. 

Everything you know in your momentary walk on earth has changed. The home you spent most of your life in is gone.  You move to a new state and a new school.  Family you do not really know start to become part of your world.  Time passes and the laughter you grew up with is replaced with a deafening silence. Decisions are made in low whispers behind closed doors.  The move comes.

 The attempt to keep you at the same school becomes difficult with the added forty five-minute drive.  The struggle to find gas money is becoming pointless.  Their eyes sadden, as your grades drop, knowing it is their fault. You only see your friends at school.  Watching them jump on bikes, headed for the park, you think about what you are missing. You walk towards the faded sedan thinking back to the chaos of the apartment you left this morning. You start to wonder when that unavoidable move will happen again…

MEASURE

Her stomach twisted a little more into the familiar knot.  She could not remember the last time it was not there.  He looked at her as she picked up her phone not sure who she was calling.  Listening to the ring, she wondered what to say.  Half hoping it would go to voice mail, she heard the familiar hello.

A smile came across her face.  Her look reassured him they would be okay for the night.  He did not want to think what was going to happen after.  The apprehension of the future was almost unbearable at times.  The next ten minutes were filled with unease as both gas gauges showed no promise of making it.  A little prayer of thanks went to the heavens as they pulled up to the house.

  She rang the doorbell and looked at the sign that hung by the door.  She had read it a hundred times, but tonight the meaning hit home.

THE MEASURE OF LOVE

IS TO

LOVE WITHOUT MEASURE

   As the door opened there stood Grandma, with a smile and her blue eyes twinkling.  The feeling they had standing at a door having lost everything was not new to them.  Heads hung low with the usual shame, they walked in. She asked how they were.  There was no judgment.  No questions on how could they let this happen.  She showed them to a room, and told them supper would be at six.  Clean sheets and extra blankets were already out. They put down the bags as the panic started to fade.  The dinner bell rang and the of three walked towards the table now set for nine.

 

 

He Doesn’t Smile Anymore

She watched as he walked towards the door.  The look in his eyes told her the smile was forced. The joy he once felt had slipped away months ago.  It was as if the darkness had engulfed his spirit, leaving nothing.  He looked back, trying to give her a glimmer of hope. A small sign that everything would be okay, but he did not have the strength.

He was sitting in the same ragged chair that she had grown to hate. It was the same picture of despair she saw every morning.  She smiled at him while she put the leash on the dog. As she did every day, she asked if he would like to come with them. The answer was always the same.

She walked out as the morning sun was coming to light.  The breeze felt warm and comforting across her face. She let the dog off the leash and watched as he ran across the dew covered grass.  Tears came to her eyes as she thought about the last three years.

His eyes followed her as she walked out the door. He could  hear her laughter as the dog splashed into a puddle.   He closed his eyes trying to remember the last time they had laughed together.