A Loss for Words / Words for a Loss

Used 2013-06-10 RIP (AlKHall Anonymous sobriety recovery)

i learned of the loss of a dear friend a couple of hours ago. He died as the result of an alcohol induced accident. He was 45 still going on 22. i saw him for the last time when i went back to the States for Christmas. We went to a sports bar to watch football with friends on a Sunday afternoon and he was the only one drinking. He never got a driver’s license, which probably explained how he made it to 45. i hugged him when i said goodbye to him and i’m glad i did.

It’s not my place to determine if he was an alcoholic or not, but those that loved him worried about his drinking. It’s unfair to him, though, to reduce him to this. He had a job, he had girlfriends and ex wives and friends and he had talent. He was a gifted artist and was without a doubt the most talented musician that i knew. He could not just play every instrument known to man, he could play it better than anyone else you knew.

Plus, he was unbelievably sweet. Constantly smiling. Always telling bad jokes and laughing at yours as though they weren’t bad, as well. He was very giving, and had jobs that included working with children and the elderly.

Children loved him because he was not broken by life and did not feel he had to hide the child within himself. He carried with him a naivete that he shared with everyone and his innocence was so infectious everyone caught it. He was a loyal friend and intelligent beyond the age he acted. While he often drank, i never once saw him become belligerent or aggressive. The times i saw him at his drunkest, he merely passed out in the chair with a smile on his lips.

i don’t know if his family and friends ever staged an intervention to get him into recovery, but it would surprise me if they had. As he did not act violent when drunk and seemed to be able to function in his day to day life, it probably didn’t seem necessary. Also, as anyone in recovery will tell you, there is nothing you can say to convince an addict they need help. Until they realize it themselves, all your pretty words are like sweet smoke.

Sad as it is to say, i’m sure all of us who loved him felt this was his destiny.

The mutual friend who informed me of his death said, “It’s shocking but not surprising.”

We all knew it was going to happen one day, but never thought it would be today.

i don’t want these words to be his elegy because they are not good enough for him and i don’t want him to need an elegy. i want him here, telling me the story of the crazy girlfriend that chewed his fingernails after he passed out, or telling me again how we should be in a blues band with me writing lyrics and him playing every instrument known to man.

After my suicide attempt, i was in ICU for a couple days and there was someone else in the bed across the hall. He had, i think (but i was in a haze for most of that time), a terminally ill disease. i remember feeling a twinge of guilt when it became apparent that, despite trying to to fuck myself up permanently, i was granted a longer life while that stranger across the hall was a victim to a disease he had not brought on himself, yet had to die from it.

i’m feeling a little of that guilt tonight. Why is it that i am the one who became sober after surviving a suicide, while he falls victim to a freak accident?

Untreated alcoholism is a terminal disease. i may not deserve the chance i’ve been given but i will use it to let other people know this simple fact: untreated alcoholism is a terminal disease.

My friend did not deserve to die, but i will use the life left in me to let others know that he created a work of art with the short time he’d been given.


About Al K Hall

Like a battered drinker or a punch drunk boxer, i am here for another round. For those of you who don’t know me, i’m a semi-professional writer on the rocks and a non-practicing alcoholic (if after 30 years of practicing, you still can't do something well, it's best to just give it up). For those of you who do know me, thanks for stopping by anyway and where’s the ten bucks you owe me? Welcome to my Bar None. A hole in the wall where we can hang out and trade the kind of stories you swap only when you’ve had one too many and either can’t find your way home or are afraid to. Hell, it’s cheaper than therapy and plus the pictures are prettier. Here we’ll crack open bottles and jokes and ‘last call’ are the only dirty words you’ll never hear. Pull up a stool and make yourselves at home. http://about.me/AlKHall

Posted on June 10, 2013, in Alcoholism, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. My thoughts are with you, Al. A great post here… All we can do is use our love for the betterment of those around us today, and to cherish what we’ve learned from those no longer with us. xx

  2. So sorry for your loss, Al. I often have that thought… why did I get this, when so many do not? I believe you “got this” so you could pass along your message of hope to others, myself included. I will be praying for you and the rest of his family and friends.

    • Thank you, Miracle. i will continue to pass on the message as best i can. i was able to share ‘for him’ in a meeting tonight and though it was hard to do it without crying, i was able to get it out and that helped. Just like all these messages…

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  3. So sorry for your loss, Al. I’m glad you hugged your friend as well. He sounded like a really fine person.

  4. So sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you and your friends family. A very sobering reminder… Glad you got to say goodbye.

    • Thank you!

      He was very close to his older brother, who is the one who found him. And he had nieces who loved him dearly so it’ll be a big blow to his immediate family, not to mention all of those who he affected with his good nature and amazing talent.

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  5. I am so, so sorry to learn of this. This is someone I met, no? I’m pretty sure I know who it is. It breaks my heart.

    I know we have not been in touch for what will nearly be three months, and I have intended to write to you after three months is up… But have been very busy with things in my life, and just wanted to wait until it was the official 90 days.

    However, I came here to these posts after many days of not doing so, and I don’t think it was a coincidence that I did so today. You know, one of those God things.

    So I just want to reach out as someone who can and would like to stay your friend — in what capacity I do not know exactly (will write more soon about that) — to say I am incredibly, incredibly sorry for your loss.

    I am also so glad that you did not meet his same fate, for I can see those same friends saying the same of you, at one time. Thankfully, this is not the case, and I hope it never will be.

    I am proud of you and your sobriety, and always will be. Please never let any of us down, ever again, in this regard, for the sake of this friend and the loss of his life.


    • Thank you for the kind words. You’re right, of course about the same crowd saying the same thing about me… Last night, as i was getting ready for bed, i realized what i’m experiencing is ‘survivor guilt’. My logical mind tells me there is nothing logical about the situation but my karma brain is wondering how the fuck this is fair and why did things work out the way they did.

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  6. I had to stop wondering why I was, and am, under the Grace of a Loving God, Al. Makes no sense. I drank and drove hundreds of times (literally). Why did I not get killed or hurt or kill someone? Why did I not jump under a subway that one day when I really wanted to (in sobriety, no less)? I can add up all the “why”‘s and sit under a bridge and never come up from under. Too much. But like everyone has said, and I am inclined to agree, is that the Grace bestowed upon us (and Grace is defined as “the free and unmerited favor or beneficence of God”) for the reason of passing it on. And that’s what you do, Al – in a marvelous manner if I can say honestly. I don’t know why your friend left the way and when he did. But you are right, he is more than just the guy who may or may have not had a problem with the drink. We are ALL more than that.

    I am so sorry to hear about your dear friend. He sounds like a terrific man. He’s just now holding court somewhere else. 🙂



    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Paul. “There but for the grace of god go i…” is really what it comes down to. i’ll do what i can to see that others don’t have to share his fate, but i also really appreciate your seeing what i was trying to say about his life being so much more than his problem.

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  7. Oh Al, I’m so sorry for your loss. He sounds like a terrific friend and all around guy. This was a very touching tribute. Thank you for sharing him with us.

    • Thank you, BBB,

      The tribute was helpful for me. Rereading it, i see it’s kind of all over the place but last night, after i wrote it and was tweaking it, i started crying… i’m really not much of a crier at all (except for touching Facebook videos, lol) but i had a really good cry last night and then again this evening in an AA meeting. That and lots of sleep are the perfect cure. As are these beautiful messages i’ve been receiving from all you wonderful people.

      Keep coming back, please,

      Al K Hall

  8. runningonsober

    So sorry, Al. Thinking of you…

  9. I agree your friend is so much more than whether he drank or not. Lovely tribute. Glad you both had a chance to hug on your last visit.

    I can understand your survivors guilt. I’ve stopped questioning that for myself. Now being sober i know their is another purpose to my life ( I will patiently wait until it becomes clear to me.)

    May memories warm your heart.


  10. Oh this does make me sad. How terribly sad for you and your friend and all that loved him. So hard to love an addict… like you say they have to want to help themselves .. I am thinking of you my friend.. thank you so much for your warmth and honesty, I do so appreciate having you here in the sobersphere… much love from NZ. Mrs D xxxx

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