Last week had its fair share of ups and downs.
The "up" of all ups has to be the phone call I received from Barclaycard following my yours disgusted letter to them about my demise. An extremely pleasant man from their complaints department gushed his sincere apologies to me over and over again and then said he would like to credit my account with £100 to clear what was already accruing for this month, leaving me with a small amount in profit. That took the steam out of my ears and left me feeling that there can be hope for a small cog dealing with the inefficiencies of large organisations. Yayyyy.
On the "down" front, I received some bad news about an old friend I had not seen in a good while. Our children used to play together as toddlers, but in the meantime she and her husband had moved away to get their son into another school, so our contact became the Christmas card variety only. Last week I bumped into a mutual friend who broke the bad news. She had driven her 57-year-old husband to the station a few weeks ago to get a train to work and he had waved cheerily as they parted. Next thing she knew, some policemen turned up at the house to say he had died from a massive heart attack on the train. She is left with a 21-year-old and an 11-year-old son. There was no warning and she didn't get to say the final goodbye. She still feels he is going to walk in through the door and it has all been a terrible mistake. The only good thing to come out of it was that we managed to meet up for coffee on Friday to catch up on a lot of back news and promised to stay in touch more regularly.
Of course last week was also a crappy week for me as it was the third anniversary of Greg's death. If anything, the anniversaries seem to get worse, not better. I did my usual trip to the crematorium to take brightly-coloured flowers to the chapel (Greg always loved bright flowers even if he did not usually know the names of them. He was not a natural botanist. It took me ages to get him to recognise the difference between Lavender and Lilac, and still he always got it wrong). It's good that his anniversary always coincides with the time when the brightest flowers of all are in bud: daffodils and tulips are always the order of the day and really cheer up the chapel of rest.
With the passing of each month that goes by since his death, and certainly with each passing year, I am saddened by this thought: Greg had ample opportunity to seek rehabilitation in his last years, even though he never took it. He was detoxed several times either in hospital or at a detox centre, but he never went for rehab afterwards. As I've said before, there is a distinct difference between detox and rehab. A week of detox merely stops you coming off the drink in a safely -controlled environment, without you experiencing any seizures or other withdrawal symptoms, but a much longer rehab gets down to the more psychiatric nitty gritty of why you drink, what triggers it, how you can overide these triggers to prepare you to cope with a life without alcohol in the future. Detox alone will not stop the pull towards drinking again, so detox and rehab need to be done in tandem.
After detoxes in hospital, Greg was offered rehab several times. It would have involved an almost prison-like six-month stay in an institution, away from home and with little contact with home. However, Greg would never entertain the idea of even one week let alone six months in rehab on the basis he would miss home comforts and would not want to share his life with other addicts or possibly criminals. He also once told me he was afraid I would take the opportunity to leave him, while he was away, although I had never said anything of that sort to make him think that and heavily reassured him I would not do that. I think now that if he had risked the benefits of what rehab could offer, against the torture of being away from home for just six months, he might have still been here now. Instead of which he swapped that risk for being away from home and missing out on things for three years to date and forever more to come. How was that for poor judgement on his part? Sadly, that is usually the case for an alcoholic in the grip of addiction: they can't see further than the bottom of their glass.