Well, it’s official. Addiction has finally decimated my entire family. I spent the day with my grandfather. My grandfather, who wants nothing more than to make it to his 90th birthday in December, but whose cancer is spreading wildly throughout his body, making that goal less and less likely to be achieved. It’s gone from his lungs to his bones and his brain. Just like it did with my grandmother. The difference is he’s in a lot of pain. She, thank God, never was. I sat with him today, as I did with her at the end, holding hands and just being in the moment. I put the morphine under his tongue when I sensed he needed it, though his pride prevented him from actually asking for it. He’s out of it enough that he failed to notice my own physical limitations. My slurred, halted speech and impaired mobility. He fell in and out of sleep. While he slept I did what I could to pick up around the house. I did his laundry and put fresh sheets on his hospital bed. I emptied the two urinals that sat by the chair where he slept. I tossed old food from the fridge, food that’s gone to waste because he’s no longer able to eat it. And I cleared the kitchen and dining room of all the empty alcohol bottles. I’m sure some of the older ones were his. Most were my uncle’s or my cousin’s. It was just my grandfather and me today. I had been afraid I’d run into someone else but I couldn’t put off seeing him any longer. His time is running out.
I wanted to take a long sweet sip from the full bottles that remained. I wanted to feel the burn as it slid down my throat. I didn’t want to stop until I was numb to all that surrounded me. I didn’t. But I wanted to. The nurse came around 7:00. It was time for me to go. I hugged him tightly. I could hear the rattle in his lungs. His lips had a blue hue to them, though he’s on continuous oxygen. He struggles for each breath. Still, he was warm. And I settled into the familiar embrace for longer than I expected. Both our cheeks were damp with tears as I lifted myself up. I swallowed a sob, told him I loved him, and said I’d be back. I don’t think either of us is entirely sure we’ll see each other again. I felt the familiar heartache.
I left and immediately had to switch my mind from heartache to determination. I took the long cab ride to the hotel in the city that will serve as my home until I accomplish what I came here to do. As I write this I’m waiting for a cab to take me to a place I shouldn’t be going. I wouldn’t be going, but for the fact that I have to go find my cousin who I quite literally just found out today has a raging drug problem and has been stealing and borrowing money from everyone she knows, including me. Ten thousand dollars in 5 months. Ten grand. Five months. My cousin. What the fuck. I sure as hell can’t judge. However, she’s been stealing our dying grandfather’s pain meds. Time to get involved. She was the last best hope for this fucking family. The one I thought escaped. She was in nursing school. She’s not any more apparently. Her sister, who hasn’t spoken to me since our grandmother died, texted me and asked me to go look for her. Guess she figured I’d know the seediest placed to look. She’s not wrong. There’s a warrant out for my cousin’s arrest. I should probably just let them do this. But I can’t. I just hope we don’t both fall tonight.