With the holiday season in full swing, I’ve seen posts and tweets from people saying that they’re going to drink to get through it all. And friends talking about spending the weekend drunk, or bragging about how much they drank at a party.
It makes me angry. It makes me want to shake them. I’ve never been much of a drinker anyways, but right now… alcohol is the last thing I want crossing my lips.
Why? My best friend’s death was basically caused by alcohol. While obviously, this is a private matter, I’m sharing this because I think it’s important for anyone my age and younger to know… and to think about what they’re doing.
When Jerad turned 21, he started drinking. With the Disney crowd, with the theater crowd… and he was good at it. I remember in 2002, when we left Disney, he was in my living room with a friend of mine- splitting a 750 ml bottle of whatever was cheapest. Nightly.
At my wedding in 2004, he drank. But never to the point where he seemed drunk. In hindsight, I should have realized how dangerous that was. Then sometime in late 2004 or in 2005, I got a phone call from him. He was in the hospital with acute pancreatitis. How bad was it? He said that the doctor had given him 50/50 odds of survival. He waited until it got to 75/25 before calling me, because he didn’t want to worry me. To say I was upset was an understatement. But he left the hospital, vowing not to drink- since the doctor said that any alcohol could kill him.
The years passed, and while he didn’t have more than one or two mixed drinks that were light on alcohol in my presence, I knew that he was going out with other groups of friends to places where alcohol was present. To karaoke bars and to Jungle Cruise Skipper meetups at pubs. He assured me he hadn’t had more than a couple drinks, but I’ve been told that wasn’t the case.
I’m not sure why he didn’t listen to the doctor. Maybe it’s because he knew he was only 31 and to some degree we all think we’re invincible.
But he wasn’t. I don’t play the what-if game. It’s cruel and makes you wonder if you could have changed anything to save the person you lost… but really, if he’d believed what the doctor said, he might be here today.
I know that the holidays are rough. But please be careful and don’t overdo it. I’m not saying that everyone should stop drinking entirely… but overdoing it isn’t the answer, either. Just that it’s good to remember that nobody’s invincible.