Grieving a Glass Half-Empty

Grieving a Glass Half-Empty

To have an addict in your life is to accept that each time you see that person might be the last.

I didn’t think much about the evening ritual of hide-and-seek we’d play with my father when I was a kid. It’s just what we did a couple of nights a week:

The sun is setting and Dad isn’t home. Mom can’t get in touch with him at the office. My kid sister, my toddler brother and I jump into the silver Toyota van and we drive through the small downtown area where a handful of bars litter each side of the street. Mom searches from left to right for Dad’s car. And then we prepare for the disheartened look on Mom’s face as she emerges from the bar where she finds Dad hiding behind vodka martinis.

The hide-and-seek game continued for years, into my early adulthood, until my father got so lost in addiction that he could no longer be found. So lost that, at times, I’ve assumed the identity of a “fatherless child.”

And with the assumption of that identity came overwhelming feelings of loss that I couldn’t understand. Why did I feel like I was mourning someone who I knew was alive, somewhere?

Because I was and still am.

An Episcopalian funeral liturgy says that in the midst of life we are in death. While we all walk around with expiration dates, I feel that those who have fallen victim to addiction dangerously teeter the line between life and death, becoming ghosts that filter in and out of our lives alongside briefly hopeful moments of sobriety. The anguish of living in the purgatory of unknowing—which dad was I going to get on the phone today? The slurring one? Or the brilliant one?—propelled me into grief. Read more “the fix”…