Tuesday, 10 July 2007
When he got out of rehab he was taken back to the hospital for a day or two to get his medication sorted out but he signed his own release form and I got the call to come and collect him. Meggie and I went by cab to pick up his belongings and take him home. The appartment was small but very well appointed and compact. He was unable to cope with stairs and it was situated on the ground floor of a large house shared by four other people. I had stocked the cupboards and refridgerator with food that I imagined he would be able to cook. I had brought his belongings from our old house and the walls were decorated with mirrors and pictures which i hoped would give it a friendly homely atmosphere. He hated it.
"So this is where I am condemned to end my days" he snarled looking around
"Of course not" I told him reasonably "But since you were uanble to, I had to find you somewhere until you are well enough to choose something better for yourself"
I offered to make him some tea but he said he was going out if he could figure out "where the hell" he was. In fact the appartment was ten minutes away from where he had worked for twenty five years and close to the pub where he had spent most of his days while I cried myself to sleep most of my nights. We left together and Meggie begged him to keep his mobile phone switched on so she could call and see that he was alright. We both cried as we walked home. Jim was there when we reached the house and he did his best to comfort us but as people tend to do both Meggie and I blamed him for what he had nothing to do with and no control over.
We tried to phone him but no reply. Over the course of the evening we tried his mobile more than fifty times but he never once replied. Meggie was out of her mind with worry and I was close to breaking point. Jim offered to drive us over to the appartment which was in darkness. There was nothing we could do except wait. None of us slept well that night and first thing next morning we tried his phone again. Still nothing. We got a cab over this time and banged on the door. After what seemed like an eternity he pressed the buzzer and we rushed inside
"Where were you" I cried "We have been out of our minds with worry"
He was still dressed in the same clothes that we had left him in but the appartment was now littered with empty bottles and cans and smelled strongly of stale alcohol and vomit.
"I got lost" he mumbled falling onto the bed
"How did you manage that" I asked
"I couldnt remember the address"
Meggie tried to talk to him while I set about cleaning the place but after a few minutes she came to me
"He is asleep" she said dejectedly
"He is drunk love" I sighed
We cleaned the rooms and disposed of the empty bottles and cans. Meggie deleted all the unanswered calls from his mobile phone and put it on to charge. I made up some sandwiches covered them with foil and left them in the fridge. We tried one more time to wake him but failed so we let ourselves out and started for home.
We were terribly unhappy Meggie and me and I could see the black cloud decending around Jim as he tried to battle with our doom and gloom. Meggie became used to him not answering the phone though she continued to leave message after message time after time. We tried to visit him almost every day, sometimes he was there and let us in, sometimes he was there and too drunk to let us in and sometimes he was god knows where and we would either walk away or if Jim brought us travel home in silent dispair.
This pattern formed and as in life even the worst of times become habit forming. We got used to visiting him and when I asked if I could get a key cut and he agreed. He was drinking very heavily, this was evident from the number of empties I took to the dump each time we visited. One Saturday morning probably a couple of months into this arrangement my phone rang very early and I struggled to answer in the darkness.
"This is Jason Kelly, you rented an appartment from me"
My blood turned to ice and I sat bold upright in bed
"Whats happened" I asked
Jim woke, immediately lighted a cigarette and waited for the bad news
"The front door was left open last night" I was told in an icy voice "I was asked to call by another tennant and the appartment door was open. Your "friend" is lying on the floor. There is god knows what all over the walls, the cooker was on and the whole place is in total chaos"
"I'll be right over" I said leaping out of bed
"I wont have this behavious in my property" I was told in no uncertain terms "If this happens again he is out"
There was a click and silence.
I tried not to let Meggie know but she had heard the phone and appeared in my room rubbing her eyes
"Whats happened" she asked and I told her as little as possible yet stucking to the truth which she demanded "I'll sort it out love, you go back to bed"
"I'm coming with you"
Jason had not lied. The place was filthy. He had made it into bed by then fully dressed but that was about the only progress. We spent hours scrubbing the walls and the floor and as usual throwing away the empties. We went to the hardware store and bought a hinge that attached to the back of the front door so that it would close automatically. Even if he neglected to close it behind him it would be taken care of. We waited for him to sober up and tried to talk with him. We told him of the phone call and how close he was to being evicted and begged him to try to get himself together. We talked about all the things he could do if he got some help knowing in our hearts they would never happen.
It was late afternoon when we eventually got home again and Jim was not there. I tried his phone and it was his turn not to pick up. My heart was heavy as I began to prepare some dinner. It was dark when he appeared and I knew by the look on his face things were not good
"I have to get away" he told me in a flat voice "I cant take anymore of this. I am falling apart"
"Please Jim" I begged him "We need you here with us. It will get easier"
He shook his head
"You may have moved out, but you will never move on and I cannot cope seeing you and Meggie being pulled apart like this. It's killing me"
"You're a coward" I spat "What happened to good and bad"
"Its all bad" he sighed "What happened to the good"
He turned and walked to the front door
"Where will you be" I cried hanging on to his sleeve trying to keep him with me.
"I will be with my daughter. I need peace and quiet. Its not just you or this" he tried to explain "Its the depression. It has my head fried again. Im sorry"
I finished making the dinner but only fixed one plate and took it to Meggie
"Is Jim gone" she asked and i nodded
"You ok" she asked and I nodded again but I was a long way from being ok
Day followed endless day. We made the pilgrimage to the appartment on a regular basis always holding our breath as we opened the door never knowing quite what to expect. After a few days Jim telephoned and after a cuople of weeks he came back as he had done so many times before and so very many times after. It was a distructive relationship. We were distroying each other but like some kind of fatal attraction the force that kept driving us apart also kept pulling us back together.
Summer had drawn to a close and the evenings became dark early. I would meet Meggie from school race up to the appartment pay our visit and try to get home before dark. I tried to keep Jim out of the situation as much as possible but he did offer lifts if the weather was bad or if he was in an exceptionally good mood. Thankfully he offered a life on one of the worst visits that I remember.
We collected Meggie after school and drove to the appartment. Jim stopped on the way bought a newspaper and said he would wait around the corner for us. We let ourselves in through the front door and went to the appartment. We tried to turn the key in the door but it was locked. Fear coursed through our bodies as Meggie dialed his number on her phone. There was no sound from inside the appartment.
"Where can he be" she whispered
"I dont know love" I told her quietly
"He never locks the door from the outside"
"What if he is in there sick or something"
The same thought was racing through my mind.
The light was on inside. We could see that through they key hole and we could hear sounds from the television. She kept dialing the phone and I kept knocking at the door to no avail
"Get Jim" I told her
He climbed over the back wall and peered through the window but could not see anybody in the appartment. Just then I heard Meggie shout into her phone
"Dad where are you"
She shoved the phone into my hand with a look of horror on her face
"Where are you" I asked
"I dont know"
"What do you mean you dont know"
"I am walking but I dont know where I am" he said "Find me"
"Give me an idea of where you are"
"Ok stay there. I will find you and dont turn your phone off"
Meggie stayed at the appartment in case he got back while Jim and I set off in the car to try to search for him. We drove the length of the canal in the heavy evening traffic before we eventually spotted him walking aimlessly carrying a six pack of cans. I burst into tears.
"What am I going to do" I sobbed
"There is a cab in front of us" Jim said soberly "Jump out bang the window and explain to the driver whats happening. Pick him up and take him home"
Thats what I did.
I cried the whole way back in the cab while he vented his frustrated anger blaming me for his situation and his sore feet and the fact that he had been lost and was wet and cold and hungry and anything else that he could think of. We got back to the appartment and he let us in. I offered to make him something to eat but he popped a can and grunted that he didnt need my charity. Meggie was very quiet. When we left several minutes later Jim was waiting outside for us.
"Thanks Jim" Meggie whispered
"Thats ok love" he smiled at her.
I cant help asking how their relationship grew stronger that day while we began to drift even further apart.
Monday, 25 June 2007
I kept myself busy all day. I treated myself to a new hair style and had my nails done. I went shopping for things that I didnt need and couldnt afford. I cleaned the house from top to bottom when I went home and then did the ironing. All the time my phone was in my pocket and I silently begged it to ring. It didnt. Evening came and I was in the bedroom putting away the freshly pressed laundry when our song came on the radio. Freddy Fender crooning Before the next teardrop falls. I swalowed hard and tried to stop myself from breaking into uncontrolable sobs. It was no use. I lay on the bed and cried into my pillow.Then I text you again. I told you that I loved you, that I could not live without you. Your phone was off. I lay on the bed staring at the phone for an hour or more waiting for the delivery report to flash up so that I could call you, but it didnt. I stripped naked and slipped into bed. I swallowed a sleeping tablet and waited for sleep to come. It didnt.
I remembered that you were waiting to have your land line reconnected and wondered if it was working yet. Without thinking I dialed, it rang and you answered. Why hadnt you called me?. By then the sleeping medication was taking its hold and my voice sounded funny even to my own ears. I tried to ask you if you still loved me and you said that you did. I persisted and asked if you loved me as much as you had two years earlier and again you told me that you did. I wanted so badly to believe you. In my drug induced haze I begged you to drive down to me right there and then but you said no. You asked me if I was drunk and I told you i wasnt. You told me to go to sleep that you would see me the following week and you hung up.
I was so sad that it was almost unbearable. It was like a great weight pressing on my chest and squeezing all the air out of me. All reason had gone. I called you back and was surprised when you answered. Again I asked you to drive down to me and again you refused. With no thought for my dignity or pride I kept pleading and crying like a helpless child but you were relentless. You said you needed to be on your own to deal with your depression. I promised that I would help you. We could go to the clinic, see the doctor maybe get your medication changed. I told you that I loved you unconditionally and that meant depression and all. You told me to calm down and go to sleep. You promised to call me back later on before you settled down for the night and I had no choice but to believe you.
Evening was closing in and the room was getting dark as I lay under the sheets willing sleep to come. How happy I had been when we had met. I remembered the promises you had made to me to my family to my sons. You had promised that you wuld love me and always be there for me. What had happened. I couldnt help asking how in two short years you had managed to break my heart over and over and why I kept on allowing you to do it.
Did you remember in the begining when we had our virtual lives. Do you remember the night I could not contact you. It was shortly after we had met. It was your daughters birthday and you were out for the night. I tried to text you but the message wouldnt go through. Then I tried to call you but your phone was off. I felt deserted and terribly alone. I sat in front of my computer screen. My eyes were growing heavy from crying and tiredness and then just after 2am you were there. Your name flashed up and you were in my virtual world again. I was so happy and so relieved that you had found me. You explained that your phone had died and when you realised just how upset I was you offered to drive over just to give me a good night kiss. I told you that I was fine because you were there and we said good night. I wished that night was this night.
Do you remember our first date. We went to the beach. It was Winter but the sun was shining. We chatted and held hands as we walked along the sea front. Suddenly you stopped pulled me close to you and held me so tightly that I could bearly breath
"i have been dying to do that for such a long time" you whispered into my ear and my body tingled. We strolled back towards the car. Your arm was around my shoulders and my hand was tucked snugly into the waistband of your jeans. Do you remember sitting on the seat while you smoked a cigarette. We were chatting like we had known each other forever. We were so happy that day.
Do you remember where we went to have our first real kiss. It was the underground car park in the building that you were working in. I was so nervous as I had never done anything like this before in all my adult life but you were equally scared. Your heart was beating so loudly I could feel it pounding in your chest when i rested my head against you. And then we kissed. I had not been kissed like that for so many years. Long deep kisses tasting and exploring every inch of each other. We wanted each other so badly but you said we should wait. You said that you did not want the first time we made love to be rushed in the front seat of your car. It was going to be special and eventually it was.
I kept remembering the good times trying to block out the heartache that they eventually brought. Sleep was still far away. In my heart I knew that you would not telephone me and some tiny piece of my irrational mind also told me that you would not answer if I phoned you. I swallowed another sleeping tablet and just before sleep I asked myself how much more could I take.
Wednesday, 20 June 2007
My days were divided between the old and the new. It would begin by getting Meggie ready for school. Once she had gone and depending on Jim's mood the rest of the day would take it's direction. If Jim was having a good day he often suggested going back to bed for a while. We usually made love which was always good. Then we would lie in each others arms and talk about our hopes and plans for a future together. Those times were my happiest and for the shortest while I would actually believe that things were going to be okay. Round lunchtime I would make my way to the old house. I remember real fear each time I turned the key in the lock. I never knew what I was going to find. I had a dread of my ex falling down the stairs in a drunken stupor where I would find him lying. If he wasn't around fear would grip my heart. I would imagine him lying cold and dead in what had been our bed. Thankfully neither of these senarios ever happened.
One morning about four months into our seperation I let myself in as uaual. The house had been deteriorating in appearance since my departure so I was not surprised by the stench of stale beer that greated me. I made my way through the still darkened hall and into the sitting room. He was lying on the floor bearly conscious
"Have you not been to bed" I asked
He muttered his drunken reply
"Your going to kill yourself you know" I told him for the hundreth time
He tried to get up but fell back onto the floor and groaned
"Are you hurt" I asked suddenly anxious
"My leg" he moaned "Somethings wrong"
The ambulance was there within minutes and we were blazing our way to the local hospital which was only a short drive. He was wheeled straight through and I was told to go to the desk and register name and address. When I got back he was hooked up to various machines. There were nurses around him poking needles into his arms and legs and drawing blood into viles.
"Whats wrong with him" I asked genuinely afraid
"He is very ill" a nurse told me gravely
That was an awful day. He was indeed very ill. He had developed blood clots in his legs and chest and for a while I thought he was going to die. While he was drunk he co opperated with the doctors but when his alcohol level started to fall he began to get really violent and wanted to leave. I did'nt recognise this man as my partner of twenty five years. He screamed and shouted at the nurses and tried to heave himself from the trolly. Two uniformed security men were brought in to hold him while the doctor injected sedative into his vein.
"That will relax him" he told me but it did'nt. He continued to push and shove everybody and anything that got into his way and eventually he was off the narrow hospital stretcher bed. I tried to hold on to him but he shoved me off and began to leave the room. At that point the sedative began to take hold and he staggered. One security guards leaped forward and steadied him
"Come on sir" he said kindly "lets get you back to bed"
He allowed himself be lead back and lay down without further argument. I was crying like my heart would break. This man had once lifted a car out of his way becuase it had parked in the space he had wanted. Slowly he turned his head towards me and in a voice bearly louder than a whisper he growled
"Are you happy. You have gotten your way now. I am finished"
"This is not down to me" I cried. "You have done this to yourself"
"Go away" he spat "I dont want you here"
I ran from his bedside and leaned against a wall in the corridor to keep myself from falling.My head was spinning and a cold finger of fear poked at my heart A nurse came out and gave me a glass of water
"Try not to be too upset love" she said kindly "It's the medication. He does not know what he is saying"
But I knew that he did.
Alhough he banished me from his bedside i was back the next day. Duty compelled me to return. Though I had left, my first loyalty was to him even at the expense of my new relationship. He was still heavily sedated and completely confused.
We had been through a similar experience a month before I left our relationship. He had been having very bad chest pain and was given a letter by our family doctor to attend the hospital. After a battery of tests he was diagnosed as having narrowing blood vessels. His blood was too thick, was clotting and not flowing properly. He was given medication to take daily and had to have weekly blood tests. Each time he had the test it showed elevaed alcohol levels and eventually the medication was withdrawn. The doctor was very kind when he spoke to us.
"Sometimes sir" he began "the cure can be as bad as the disease. In your case if you continue to drink while taking this particular medication it could cause worse problems than you are currently having"
"And if he doesnt take the medication" I asked
"Then he is putting his life at risk. A clot could travel to his lung, his heart or his brain".
"Oh well" my partner joined in "dead man walking I suppose"
I was shocked
"Oh my God" I cried "If you dont value your own life what about Meggie. Do you not want to see her grow up, be there for her, walk her down the aisle"
"Of course I do" he sighed
"I cant give up the drink" he said sadly "Its too late"
I decided then and there that I was leaving. I could not continue to watch him slowly commit suiside which is what he had decided to do. And as a sat there by his bedside I thought he had finally succeeded. In hindsight and if i had known the heartache the next six months were to bring I would have prayed God to take him, but he did'nt.
Day followed endless day each more hopeless than the one before. My old relationship was holding me prisioner while my new one was falling apart. Meggie tried to be brave but I knew she was terribly worried and left the hospital in tears almost every time she visited. The doctors told us that when he eventually "dried out" and all the alcohol was out of his system we would see some improvement and I longed for that day. At the same time the family home had sold and the new owners wanted to take possession. The hurt I felt as I cleared out what had been our home for twenty five years knows no name. Most of the furniture was too old be of any use but it held precious memories for me. I took what I could but since the house I was renting was already furnished most of it went to charity. I tried to explain the situation to my ex partner but he was still much too ill to realise that if and when he came out of the hospital he would not be going back to what he had known.
Now I have to admit that without the Jim's help over those weeks and the months I dont think I could have pulled through and for that I will be eternally in his debt. He helped me find an appartment for my ex. We moved all his things into it and made it look comfortable. Over the course of the month he had began to improve little by little. Since he was not drinking he was given the correct medication again and his condition stabilized. It was suggested that he go to a Rehabilitation Centre for a while so that he could continue to improve and also receive help to remain sober. At first he battled everybody on this one and said there was "no way" he was going any place except home "wherever the hell that was now". He was filled with anger for everything and everybody and especially me. In my heart I knew that the minute he left the hospital his first stop would be a bar or an off license so I desperately tried to persuade him to give the rehab a try. In the end he agreed to do it because Meggie got down onto her knees and begged.
The centre was about one hundred kilometers from where we lived so he was taken there by ambulance on a wet windy Thursday afternoon in late October. We had been told that the rules of the rehab were very strict. There was to be no contact for the first five days by phone or any other way and no visits for the first two weeks to give the patient a chance to settle into the routine and environment. I was not prepared for what I heard when my phone rang late that same Thursday night.
"Get me out of here" he growled
"What" I stammered "You've only just arrived"
"And I am leaving"
We were devasdated. I had hoped for a few weeks maybe even a month of normality to spend with Jim and Meggie knowing that he was being cared for but that was not to be. The staff in the centre told me my ex had no intention of staying sober and he was "wasting their time and his own and occupying a bed that could be used by somebody who cared". They told me to arrange to bring him home as soon as possible. We struggled over the weekend from one abusive phone call to the next, each worse than the last as I tried to arrange for somebody to travel the one hundred kilometers and bring him back. In the end and because I was hanging onto sanity by a thread Jim voluntered to go. He posed as a health board taxi driver and brought him back. I couldnt help asking if that was the begining of the end for Jim and I. It was more than any relationship could cope with especially one as paper thin as ours already was.
My ex moved into the apartment we had made ready for him and a new and if possible an even worse final chapter in our lives was to open. Sometimes I cant help asking what if............., what if i had left before he became so ill or when he was younger or stronger or before the alcohol had taken such a hold on his life. And the guilt goes on.
Tears are falling from my eyes