This was the man I fell in love with, the man whose eyes sparkled with love and laughter, the man whose smile could turn a dark room light. The man I lost when alcohol took over his life and his mind and his heart.
Joe was a paramedic and he saved countless numbers of lives, but the job took its toll on him as it does on so many that are in the profession. He was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder about 6 weeks after we got married, right about the same time I came home and found him with a huge glass of vodka in his hand.
I always knew that Joe was an alcoholic. He was a charter member of AA and very active in his group. He loved going to meetings and the people that were there with him. He had been sober for 2 years before we married. With the stress of his job, his illness that we really didn't know much about or understand, and the wedding, Joe turned to his old friend, Nicoli or was it Vladimir. I still cringe if I see that name on a bottle of vodka.
This disease of addiction is truly demonic, as it steals the minds and the hearts of those we love and we are forced to watch them struggle and hurt and fight and fail. Joe fought this disease with everything he had. He went to rehab for weeks at a time, he meditated, medicated, went to meetings, called his sponsor and talked to therapists. But every time the demon would rear its ugly head, Joe would end up with a bottle of vodka as his best friend.
Sadly Joe & I separated about 6 weeks before his death. I had to go for a while as I was enabling him. He understood this and we promised that we would work on our marriage. We had an agreement that if he would only work on his sobriety and stay sober for a year, and then we would live in the same house again. This separation was one of saving sanity; saving what was left of our marriage. I never imagined that it would be forever.
6 weeks later, after watching Joe fight so hard to beat this demon, going to meetings 5 times a day, following his program and going to detox; Joe had a set back and relapsed. This relapse was his last.
I had spoken to him the night we believe that he died. He told me he loved me and he was going to a meeting and would call me the next day. That day never came. I called Joe all day on Saturday, all day on Sunday, drove by the house, sent text messages, begged him, willed him to call, and even tried to make him mad so he would call and yell at me and then at least I would know he was alright. But Monday morning came, and there was still no word from Joe.
Finally, I called Joe's parents and asked them to go to our house. When they did, they found Joe. He had fallen down the stairs, we believe very late Friday night, and he had hit his head and cut off his airway. This fall took his life. The bottle of Nikoli vodka on the counter in the kitchen took his life. The disease of alcoholism took his life, took my life, it took our dreams and it took our hopes. One split second and the whole world changes. I miss him every second of every day and will for the rest of my life. He was one of a kind and so special.
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