The email arrived out of nowhere. It was from friends I'd lost touch with and it said Brian had died.
"He died in the hospital Tuesday night," it said and "he'd been in poor health for awhile" and "he had heart problems."
So I emailed back, said I was sorry to hear about Brian and mentioned that my daughter had died of cirrhosis of the liver two years ago.
So they emailed back and said that Brian's deteriorating health was alcohol related.
"Little by little, he lost his ability to walk," they said.
I try to picture my former drinking buddy, all six-feet-four inches of him, unable to walk and can't do it.
Instead, I see him at the pub table. I see us all at the pub table, drinking too much, laughing, drinking some more and going to work hungover the next day
I see him dumping a beer all over a guy who joked about the little bald spot on the back of his head. At 28, he hated that bald spot.
I listen and I can hear one of us, him, me, you, order another round.
Then, we drifted away, to other jobs, to other towns.
Some of us kept drinking, some of us didn't.
I did. Until one day, after a couple of blackouts, I knew it was time to quit. I did that, too.
I guess Brian didn't. He kept on drinking. More and more.
For whatever reason. Those of us who have drinking problems can never adequately explain to a non-drinker why we continue in that cycle. Maybe there is no explanation.
Drinking to excess is of course, older than Allah, more common than high gas prices and every bit as dangerous as crystal meth. It's just that booze usually takes a little longer to rip a life apart than does meth or cocaine.
And it is that ordinariness of drinking, that "sure I'll have another beer" of it that makes it so socially acceptable.
We tell ourselves that Uncle John likes to drink a bit too much or that our sister Jennifer seems to be getting into the martinis earlier in the afternoon. We may even mention the fact to John or Jennifer, get rebuffed and tell ourselves to forget it.
And then, one day John or Jennifer -- or my daughter, or Brian -- is rushed to a hospital emergency department.
As I look back on my daughter's drinking, my own drinking and Brian's, I wonder if we're so concerned about drugs that we forget -- or minimize -- what booze can do.
Blessed are those who can have one or two glasses of beer or wine or whatever and get a trifle tipsy now and again. If I could do that, I'd start drinking again tomorrow.
But I and, according to Health Canada, some 4.5 million problem drinkers in this country cannot.
Excessive drinking is not attractive or amusing, especially as it continues year after year.
It is instead, debilitating, dangerous and in any number of cases, lethal. I know that, so does my daughter. And now Brian knows it too.
source: Edmonton Sun