The details are very foggy, but I have a drunken Easter story.
For the life of me, I can’t think about why I would have been without plans or my family on Easter, but one year it happened. Maybe I chose it? I have no idea. I really can’t remember. My whole life at that time was a bit of a fog.
What I do know is that I was grieving the loss of my good friend, who was diagnosed with cancer and passed away two months later, leaving his wife and 5 kids. My other friend, his wife, was now a widow. She asked me to do his eulogy. She said I was the only one that could speak her words. My heart and hers were completely broken. I stayed very close to her during this time. I wanted to be a real support person to her.
We were both drinking a lot, which wasn’t necessarily new to us, but we had new meaning to do it with our freshly shattered hearts. I thought being in the depths of despair alongside her was the best support I could possibly give.
Looking back, being my own drunken mess, was not the best support.
It was the worst.
It added to her worry. She asked me not to drink too much when interviewing his family for the eulogy. I don’t blame her. I tried my best not to let on that… of course…I once again…and always…drank too much. I really did try to keep it under wraps and slow my roll during those interviews though. I patted myself on the back for not being too drunk. As if that was some sort of accomplishment. She was proud of me too, since no one seemed to notice.
Our first Easter without him was a sunny spring day. The day debuted the first great weather of the season in the midwest, which is always too late whenever it arrives and also absolutely glorious when it finally does. It felt cruel to enjoy the spring sun and new blooms amidst our dark grief. He was our #1 champion for throwing outdoor parties when the weather got nice. Corona's on the porch, was my sign of a summer vibes on the way. We spent so many hours in their backyard together. As we were sitting outside catching up in the sun. It was palpable, he should have been with us. Opening a bottle of crisp white sauvignon blanc seemed like a good, casual idea. That chilled bottle went quickly.
All bottles did in those days.
We took a field trip to the liquor store to get more. My body started to zoom with adrenaline and excitement about a spontaneous and unexpected afternoon of day drinking. I loved this feeling, even if it scared me a bit. I had energy and thrill pumping through my veins. A great relief from the somber grief and guilt.
I wanted more of this zoom.
We browsed the store picking out fun bottles with cute labels. I bought some extra bottles “just in case”. We had both been frequent customers, but never there together. This felt like fun to. Laughing down the aisles. The cashier, no doubt, was familiar with both of us. Locals. Friends. It was a holiday and I wanted to treat us both to luxury with the extra bottles of wine. I didn’t want to feel deprived or like I was sharing. I wanted as much as I wanted. I wanted her to have the same. I didn’t want to limit it. I was not moderating. I was counseling my grieving friend. More wine than we should drink was my gift to both of us.
Typically, when we were together, I was very rigid and drank very little because I had to drive home. I was very strict and extremely cautious about this. I would never have more than one an hour and wait an hour. Timing myself. On this day, I already decided to get an Uber home so I didn’t have to worry about driving.
Suddenly those bottles, and then those extras bottles too were all gone.
Completely empty in a matter of minutes.
It’s alarming how fast this can happen when it's just you, your friend, the backyard, the sun and a sense of freedom.
Next, it was time to visit the family of my newly departed friend. They were having an Easter gathering and my widow friend was invited. My intention was to support her visiting her in-laws. I had signed myself up for a life of being her plus one the moment I heard news of his passing. She was missing her greatest love and I couldn’t stand it for her. It would be hard to show up without her husband. I wanted to go too. I welcomed the chance to be with the people that reminded me most of him. We were on our way.
Their backyard was festive with tents and tables. Music and food. I loved being part of this big Mexican family. There was delicious food and drink. Fiesta in every which way. I was swept up in it. I was dizzy and drunk. It became abundantly clear in the company of others. Seemingly out of nowhere, I was sloppy and sad. It was the middle of the afternoon.
I recall trying to help with dishes but instead mumbling, slurring, and crying to his sisters. Nearly breaking every dish I touched. Repeating to his Mother “lo siento” over and over again. The only way I knew how to share my sympathy to her.
They were treating me like I was a sad albeit well intentioned drunken mess.
They had empathy, care and concern. I was so embarrassed. I was trying to help them. The grieving family. I was no help. I was becoming a spectacle at an Easter that I wasn’t technically even invited to. I really have no idea but somehow I got home. I was put to bed by late afternoon. I don’t remember anything else. Glimpses of that afternoon. Mostly it all fades to black. I hate myself for being this way.
This isn’t the only holiday where I have a drunken foggy memory of me passing out hours before bedtime.
Holidays really amped up my drinking. So many nerves about family. So much anger about responsibility. The added desire for perfection and performance everywhere. From no one, but me by the way.
I vaguely recall, being hungover and packing up the car to visit family out of town on many occasions. Having no patience. Running late. Being mad as hell at everyone. Headache splitting my brain in two. Nausea welling up inside at regular intervals.
Putting on my festive holiday outfits. Looking like a truck ran me over the night before and not being able to face myself in the mirror. Adding more make up. More shame. Layering on perfume. Brushing my teeth again. And again. Not getting rid of the death in my mouth.
Feeling hot, shaky and desperate. Slapping a smile on my face pretending everything is fine.
That time I thought I lost my wedding ring.
That time I thought it was the last holiday for our family together because we weren’t going to make it.
That time I spent hating myself instead of taking joy in my kids. Hiding from them instead of engaging with them.
I have felt it all. So when it comes to Easter brunch and mimosas, no thanks. I am not missing out on a damn thing while I stay true to myself. I will gladly skip the alcohol while I act in alignment with my values. I will treat myself and my family with love instead of intoxication.
This year for Easter I was with my family, at my in-laws house. I quit drinking and we made it after all. My widow friend took a hike with her adult children. It’s as happy an ending as we could ask for.