Sunday, September 25, 2011


Tonight, my oldest brother sent me a picture from some old film he recently had developed. The quality is poor, considering the film was 8 years old that's no surprise. The picture is me, with my two brothers Dan & Nathan. It was taken at Christmastime in 2003. That was the last Christmas I had with brother Dan. In Spring of 2004, he died of an overdose interaction of cocaine combined with alcohol.

I looked at the picture, and Dan looks just like I remember him. He looks like he'll always look to me, because he can't age. And I love him so much. And I'm so ANGRY.

I'm angry that my brother will never be there to do magic tricks for the kids. He would pull quarters out of ears, and make things disappear. To my kids, he WAS magic. Now their memories of him are dim, they were so young when he died.

I'm angry with myself, for not calling him more often. For not taking time out of my "busy" life to keep that connection going. For not arranging to have lunch with him when he literally worked down the street from where I worked. Maybe I would have seen something. Maybe I could have helped.

I'm angry that he had just seemed to be getting his life together. He had just gotten a great job, had taken us out to dinner so excited that he was able to pay for it, it was like he had finally become a grown up. After struggling for years, selling plasma weekly just to buy food, he was on the rise.

I'm angry that a wonderful writer is no longer there to write the quirky, intellectual writings that I know would someday have been published in more than an online venue.

But most of all, I'm angry with Dan. Why didn't you seek professional help? Why didn't you come to your family for help? Why did you do such a stupid thing?? You were SO smart. I was just getting to know the Grown Up you, the older brother I could hang out with and talk to about music and technology, and you went away. IT'S NOT FAIR AND I'M PISSED AT YOU FOR IT.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, PLEASE, seek help. Do it for yourself, do it for the loved ones involved.


  1. Yea, Nathan feels the same as you do. Me, I dunno..... I was close to Dan and saw him often. He seemed to always be in trouble with the law and losing his license over his addictions. I couldn't help him because he didn't want help. I felt fortunate that I flew him out here in 2003 to bring Scott for the year and he and Charlene got to meet. They both had that special bond (like everyone does with Charlene) and they exchanged e-mails a lot more than I did with him. When he died, she took it hard, too. Dan and I had a lot of good times together in his last years, even with the Boatpeople. They loved him, too. Sorry you and Nathan missed out on his last years. Remember your friends and loved ones often and keep in touch. You never know when.....

  2. Wonderful post, Shelley. I could probably write for days on this one. Not just about Dan's tragic death, but about my experiences with addicts and what addiction does to a family. I've come to learn that addiction is one of the most insidious diseases. It gets in, gets its clutches around the addict; then oozes over and touches even the youngest members of a family. No one is immune to the shame, outbursts, guilt, fear, abandonment issues, anger - all of it. Long after the addict is dead/gone/disconnected, etc. there's this nearly insurmountable trail of emotional wreckage left for the rest of the family to overcome. It's generational damage. And too often, to escape the shaming pain/guilt/anger, many (especially those with a genetic component) turn to alcohol and drugs. And it begins again. And again. And again.... And.

  3. insidious, yes, that's exactly the right word for addiction. you nailed it.

  4. 'I am crying and I hate drugs. Drugs take the human you love away from you. The Drug fogs and mires the one you love; he is drowning before your eyes. I am crying. You try to touch him, talk to him, make him feel you but he won't/can't. The Drug wins. Everytime. In rare lucid windows when the human is winning and the drug is dieing back, you rejoice in the human you love. He's back! He won! and the Drug takes him again. I am crying, I cannot see.

  5. It would have been fun to have a lucid, coherent Dan in our old WoW guild. He would have loved that game. Can you imagine the three of us with Walf and Zach clearing some instance?