It's Not a Disease
by Christine L. Reed
There is a picture in my attic that shows a young and handsome man in the Air Force. He is smiling and laughing, his eyes are bright. This is my father, somewhere around the year 1968, serving in Vietnam at the exact time that I was preparing to be born. He missed my birth, and, as it would turn out, missed most of my life as well.
My father is an alcoholic. Now I watch him dying at the VA hospital, and he resembles nothing of the man in the picture. At 54 years old he looks more like 75, his skin yellow and covered with liver blisters which can burst at any moment and often do. He has been diagnosed with an infection in his pancreas, failing kidneys, and a stomach problem that I cannot even pronounce, let alone spell. All this on top of cirrhosis which he was diagnosed with four years ago and told he would only have six months to live, if he continued drinking. He beat the odds and gained a few more years, but now he will not ever leave the hospital.
I am sad that my father lies dying, but even sadder to realize that even if he were to live, he would not be here for me. The small girl inside of me still longs for my dad to look at me with pride, to tell me how pretty I am, to tell me he loves me. I know this will never happen, but the fact of his impending death brings an end to the small glimmer of hope that I have always held on to.
They say that alcoholism is a disease, but I can't accept that. The alcoholic chooses a glass over flesh and blood and does it with full awareness, pushing the feelings of guilt deep under the liquor. There will always be a part of me that knows and hurts to know, that he chose his oblivion to the pain and love of life, to the joy of children and even still to grandchildren. I can't get my father back, though I can't say I ever really had him except for a brief moment, when too small to remember, but it isn't too late for many others.
Alcoholism is not a disease, it is an addiction. Addictions can be controlled with the wonderful mechanism that is our own mind; all that is needed is the decision to be the master of our own bodies and to care enough for the ones we love to commit to life, not death.
Christine L. Reed is the publisher and editor of Maelstrom, an art/lit. magazine based in Tranquility, NJ where she lives, writes and plays with her two children, Brian and Jennifer. She is also a writer/poet and has had her work published in many magazines and anthologies, and is working on her first chap book.
This Season's Nonfiction articles
[ Cover] [ Arts Department ]
[ Columns ] [ Cosmic Connections ]
[ Fiction ] [ Non-Fiction ] [ Opinions ]
[ Poetry] [ Song and Story ] [ Inspirations ]
[ About Moondance ] [ Awards and Web Rings ]
[ Letters To The Editor ]
[Ten Commandments of Creative Women]