I am mourning the loss of my oldest friend this weekend.
I've known him since we were both 13, a few years back in Middle School now. We did it all - school trouble, yearbook staff, "The Dream", we were roommates for 8 years after graduation...he stood for me as my Best Man....he christened my son.
But somewhere along the way, he developed a fondness for alcohol. Then pills. Then married men. (He's gay.) And finally....child porn.
He's not dead. Not yet, anyway. But he is dead to me.
More below the crumpled orange tissue paper full of my tears.
The sad reality is that I did the math tonight. I have known him more years as a drug addict than not.
It's a very long story, but it came to a head two Junes ago.
My friend has had a hard life - he's had nagging injuries and was nearly 500 pounds at one point, until he had the bariatric surgery and became a living skeleton. In late May of 2012, he had a total knee replacement done.
We all thought it was a bad idea. It may have helped him to walk better...but they prescribed him a full set of painkillers. It was him I was off visiting the day I went into the ER myself for an emergency appendectomy (and cancer diagnosis), but that's another story.
Predictably, he went downhill again. Took all the pills...conned doctors into giving him more. Then he fell into his usual pattern of having a "crush" on a married co-worker and couldn't keep the thing in his pants. He "left" that job, or so he told me, sometime while I was recovering and getting ready for chemo. (This will be important later.)
He wound up in and out of treatment...did a couple of inpatient stints, then wound up in a halfway house that he called a "nightmare" and "everyone there was homophobic". I do not know the full details of that, but it pushed him over the edge for good, I think.
He started drinking again. He went for more treatment again. He tried to quit....again. Then I think he gave up. After spending most of summer 2013 in a locked psych ward, he was discharged to home.
About a week before Christmas, he was outside on the porch smoking, when he took a header on some ice. His elderly mother, concerned for his well-being, tripped over a carpet and actually broke her neck. (Fortunately only a hairline, with no paralysis, but a devastating blow nonetheless.)
I believe I may have been the last one to speak to him on Christmas Eve, about an hour before his family was expected for the nights' festivities. I was set to come by and visit on Xmas day, like I always do.
The next day, I learn that the first of his family to arrive had found him gray, unresponsive, and not breathing in the easy chair. They actually had to resuscitate him, and only just did. Christmas was a disaster, but then I found the truth of the matter.
He had gone through the house (a 3-family) and stolen everyone's painkillers, including his own mothers', to the tune of over 100 pills. His family disconnected his computer from the internet, and while I was there, his elder brother was shutting down email accounts so that if he came home, he couldn't contact any of his "friends". He discovered that my friend had written many letters to local priests and charities, begging for money....which they gave him. And he subsequently spent on drugs.
I learned that in his AA meetings, he always went up to accept whatever token they were offering, somehow believing that drinking and pill addictions were two different things.
I spoke to him once after Christmas. I was glad he was still alive, but he was telling me the sordid tale. After he fell, he needed emergency surgery to fuse a vertabrae in his own back. He specifically told me that he was on painkillers in the hospital, but he's "been there before" and "could quit at anytime". I knew it was over then.
About two weeks ago, he posted to Facebook that he needed more surgery. I was tempted to post back, "great, you've conned another doctor into giving you more pain pills", but I did not. Which leads me to the final chapter of our relationship.
This past Sunday, I was visiting my own aged mother in our hometown, when I dropped by his house to see how his mum was getting along. I am glad to report that her recovery seems well...she was actually out of the house when I stopped in.
But I was talking to his older brother. He told me that he didn't know anything about how my friend was doing. He specifically avoids talking about it, since he doesn't want to know. We re-hashed what happened over Christmas, and he almost casually mentioned that they found some "kinky stuff" on my friend's computer. He specifically went on to state that my friend was fired from his last job because he sent a co-worker a "picture of a naked little boy" and got called on it.
Why he wasn't also picked up by the police, I'll never know.
I don't want to know. My friend became dead to me in that instant.
I wrote him last night; I told him I wasn't going to give him a laundry list of why I was completely disgusted with him - he knows what was on his own computer. I told him to leave us alone, and maybe if he got his life in order, got sober, got a job....maybe I'll talk to him again.
Predictably, he didn't take it too well. I'm told he posted something on Facebook. I didn't read it. I presume he blamed me for all his poor choices.
I will forgive many things, but Child Porn is not one of them.
May God have mercy on your soul, my old friend.