I was proud of my son as he stood there graduation day. He had graduated from college with honors and was due to start a new job in a month. His new supervisor had given him a month off so he could enjoy some free time before starting a new life in the workforce.
There was someone painfully absent from my son’s graduation. His father. We had divorced ten years earlier when my ex decided alcohol was more important to him than our family. I had begged him for two years to get help but after he had wrecked a second vehicle (thankfully no one was hurt in either drunk driving incident), I knew I could not take it anymore. So I packed up and left with my son and daughter.
The kids missed their dad but they did not miss the arguments, the stumbling, the embarrassment of his drunken stupor when their friends stopped by. They rebuilt their lives and we began a new, more stable way of living.
Still, a year later, a late night call did change our lives once again. My ex had driven once again after drinking all night at a bar and this time there had been a fatality. He was gone. I helped the kids through that time. Although their father was an alcoholic, they did have some fond memories of him and did grieve for him a great deal.
His death changed their lives. They did not go in for alcohol at parties like some of their friends. I remember one night actually being on a date and my son calling me from a junior high dance. His best friend’s dad was picking them up but my son told me he could tell he had been drinking. The boys told him there had been a miscommunication and they were waiting for me to come because the sleepover was at our house that night. I left a rather grumpy date to drive to the school and pick the boys up, thankful that my son had developed a radar and kept his wits about him when facing such a situation.
My son was about to begin a career as a counselor for a drug treatment center. When the supervisor found out our family history, he was quite supportive and welcomed my son to the team. He believed (as do I) that my son could help alcoholics and family members alike by showing what alcohol addiction can do to not only the person consuming the alcohol, but the family as well.
I know my ex would be proud of our children and what they have accomplished if he were here today. The ones he left behind were changed forever by his choices and his addiction, as well as by his death. I whispered in my mind “We did good, didn’t we?” to him. Somehow, somewhere, I think he is nodding in agreement.