Chapter XXI

So more frustration for me, but we I had to put ‘us’ on hold until this thing with Mike was sorted out. But that was the point, it couldn’t be sorted. There was nothing she or anyone else could do. Convincing Sarah that she wasn’t to blame for his drinking was an Herculean task. Only the partners of drinkers understand what it’s like to contend with. And the gossips didn’t help. One woman accused Sarah of being the cause of his drinking. Sarah came back from the play ground distraught. I sat her down and asked her – “so, did you hold his nose and pour it down his neck?” She shook her head. Anyway, some bitter and twisted women was the least of our problems when Mike was taken into hospital.
His parents didn’t want to know, his internet girlfriend had vanished so it was left to Sarah to go and see him. the consultant took her to one side and spelt it out in no uncertain terms that he couldn’t take one more drink. Mike dismissed it as stress and discharged himself.
Sarah took him home and left him alone. Then the Saturday of the aborted night out I called over and Sarah and I sat up talking. She rang mike to see how he was but it went straight to answer phone which was unusual for him.
The next morning Sarah rang me. She said she was worried that Mike was not answering. I was at my house and had a horrible feeling about it. I told her not to go round to his and under no circumstances was she to use the spare key and go inside.
I was on the way to her house when she rang me. She had gone anyway and let herself in
“Tom! I’m here, he’s dead!”
I changed course and went straight over to his house. The neighbours were already out. Sarah was hysterical screaming about how was she going to tell the kids.
I went inside. The place was a bin. There, in the kitchen surrounded by empty bottles was mike on the floor. Dead at 46.

After the terrible shock of that morning, we had to sit down with Hannah and Rob and tell them the cold hard truth. There was no other way but to spell it out as it was. Rob had just come back from a game and was sat watching TV eating toast. As soon as we came in his face fell. He had a sixth sense that something really bad had just happened.
From somewhere Sarah found the strength to tell him. He was very brave. I think he took it as well as any young person could. Hannah’s reaction is too distressing to recount.
It made me angry how alcoholics only think of themselves even as they speed towards oblivion. But that intemperate attitude has to be balanced against the fact that alcoholism is a disease like any other
After the funeral I had the problem of looking after Sarah. Although they were separated and living separate lives the children kept them close. Any death is devastating but when people accuse you of contributing to someone’s demise the guilt is almost unbearable.i had to basically babysit Sarah to keep her from her own thoughts. I have never been in such a mentally desperate state that my own emotions are too horrible to endure. But Sarah’s were. It didn’t help that his parents cut off all ties the morning after the funeral. They haven’t seen their grandchildren since. Disgraceful.
So like all hostages to alcohol she felt responsible for his demise at a guttural, venal level. Sarah told me once that she had been trained to deal with trauma victims by asking them to recount step by step the exact timeline of whatever traumatic event had affected them.
So I had to talk her through each moment of that Sunday morning over and over again. That was tough. Fortunately, she had some amazing friends that helped her through it too. I had to make sure one of them was on hand to sit with her when I was out.
So after Mike’s death we had to decide what to do. So we had to work out a plan. It was crazy to keep two houses going; in fact it was three in total because apart of my rent I had the ex’s mortgage to keep up to date also.
So, after all the obstacles to us being together had finally been overcome, there was a huge big permanent block to our coupling – mike’s death. How long to delay cohabiting? Personally, I held no truck with the sentimental parochial mores of the curtain twitching fools that surrounded us, but I had to think of everyone else. So we held off yet again.
When would we be together ?

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