It is Russian Roulette: take a drink, then another; drink the bottle, buy another…

A death in the family is always hard and we have had more than our fair share. My husband and I both grew up understanding that Family is larger than Blood. We both grew up in communities of people who were not just friends; but Family.

I am grateful for that.

It also increases the loss you experience. The more people you love, the more people you lose; the Petals and the Thorns.

We have been to so many wakes and ‘funerals’ in the last 7 years I could not begin to add them up in my head. I can add up the number that were traditional celebrations of the passing of a loved one:


My son has been to a total of two Family funerals that were traditional;

Traditional and Sober.

We don’t say goodbye to our lost without a toast. Hell, we do not say goodbye to our lost without a full bar, bartenders and at the very least, a keg or two.

Or three,

whiskey, vodka,

 And a band if we can finagle it.

Cocaine too, depending.

The man who died; I will not name him.

I should have written his name last night, but I could not.

I should name him now, but I will not.

I love someone who needs the name to remain between us.

Love counts. Love is all there is.

The man died leaving behind two beautiful kids who barely knew him, two step kids and two wives who loved him but left.

 You have to leave a man who beats you.

Alcoholism is a Bitch.

I wish with all my heart and soul that he could have hung on. I wish with all my heart and soul that he could have lived a happy life with his kids and known them for the wonders they are.

I wish with all my heart that he had not ended up under a bridge in the dead of an Iowa Winter alone and about to freeze to death.

My father took him in. My father did that.

Everyone came to the wake. They came from all around the world. Catholic families tend to be large.

The real funeral took place in a bar. Don’t get me wrong, we did the whole funeral home thing; dressed up and taking our turns at the podium. We did that; but what counted was the drinking afterwards at the bar.

One cousin and I who have spent our fair share of time estranged from the family (therapy will do that to you) were the only ones not drinking. Not everyone was In the Bag,  but most were.

I stood with my cousin and we were silent as we watched the night unfold. We all knew how he went. Only a few of us knew the whole story, thanks to Daddy, but we all Knew why he died:

He drank himself to death.

We watched for a very long time in silence and in anger as one by one the heavy drinkers climbed in for the night.

That old bottle holding them tight.

The way he  died was horrific but almost more horrific was watching the family gathered to drink to him, to the life that was lost, to a life that had been lost decades earlier to alcohol.

One saving grace was that his kids and his step kids were not there with us. They had mothers who knew  what the score and both kept them away.

Alcoholism is a family tradition and a family curse. I pray that I have broken the cycle. I pray that my sister has broken the cycle, but you grow up like we do, you have our genes and it is a crapshoot.

Eternal vigilance is the name of the game.

It is Russian roulette; take a drink, take another,

 drink the bottle, buy another…

We are Professionals. Some of us retired.

Lets just hope we stay that way.

The working Professionals, well, their end will come and next time, I am skipping the bar. I will break ranks and head out of town to the fields and watch the stars and the clouds move from the hood of my car and thank my God for the miracle of my life and the lives of those I love and the lives of those I have lost.

Next time, I am heading out, I am taking my sister with me and our husbands and we will let the kids play in the night while we remember the Good Times and Thank God for each other and our hearts beating and the clouds moving by.

Peace,  Jen

~ by Step On a Crack on November 7, 2011.

10 Responses to “It is Russian Roulette: take a drink, then another; drink the bottle, buy another…”

  1. Oh my … Breaking the chain is so important. How heartbreaking about Christopher. I don’t think i met him … or maybe i did, if it was back in our day of professionalism. Thank God we have passed on the Family Traditions. You’re life is very rich, Jen … i know it’s painful.

    You are loved by many, and you love many. The stages and passages of life are 10-fold for you because your life is so large.

    I am grateful to be one of your family. I hope i am a member. Love, mel

    P.S. Dogs do count too 😉 Thank you for that, love!

    PPS Hold our loved ones tight — protect them like the Lioness.


    • Mel You did meet him a few times. He was in his glory then and we WERE professionals. Ah the Past I love the past because you are in it and I love the past because it is past.

      Dogs DO Count!!! Your love is spread ALL over sweetheart. xxx Jen


  2. TO BE SURE … i meant passed our family traditions BY … let them go …S***! Peace and love, mel


  3. Alcoholism is Russian Roulette with worse odds.

    In the rooms last week a man shared that we, all of us alkies, are walking miracles because we came back from the dead when we put down the bottle. Not everyone is able to do that and losing them is tragic. This is why, here in Yeaman, we end each AA Meeting with ‘A moment of silence for the still suffering alcoholics inside and outside the room.”


    • Al, hmmm

      Ok first I read your blog post today and leave with wisdom and then I come here and There is MORE wisdom.! I love the ending to a Yeaman meeting and I do believe I will add it to my own meditation time at home.

      you are right. it ain’t roulette. It is just a loaded 454. Peace, Jen


  4. I am so glad that you are ready to start a new tradition and a new way of showing the kids how to grieve. They’re precious and no one knows more than you do, what an impact your behavior can have on their choices. They will remember, they may mimic. Let’s hope they cling to the truth as you do.

    God bless you for being true to your insight.


    • Heidi, Thank you! I am realizing that breaking the cycle shows up in SO many ways. When you come from a tribe of alcoholics, you do need to look at each and every tradition and Vet it to see “is this healthy?” Just because something is a family tradition does not make it worthwhile. thank you very much! xx Jen


  5. It’s hard to not use a crutch that generations of your family has used.

    Especially when it’s normalized, a given.

    But, it’s possible to break the mufti-generational cycle – to drink responsibility or not at all – because even one starts to impact judgement and what’s sober responsible is very different than drunk responsible.

    I am sorry for your loss, and ache for how needless it was and how hard it is to resist something tragically predictable.


    • Nina, First thank you for stopping by! I love your blog. Very intelligent, well written stuff.

      Your last line really hits home; the insanity of the predictability of the whole mess. I watch family members continue walking the path and it is startling.

      Peace, Jen


  6. Sad poetry and beautifully written.


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