This is a photograph of my brother Daniel J. Struck, or DJ, or Danny Joe as I always called him and still do, in the 1990s right after his one and only marriage. But he lived alone a long time. He had three great kids and just became a grandfather, and he died this past weekend, probably from a heart weakened by years of battling alcoholism.
Although I became distant from Danny Joe, like all my sibs and although that was never my intention, I never, ever stopped loving him for the kind, quiet, vulnerable and brave person he was. My best Danny Joe memories are: That photograph I can’t find of me at age seven or eight, wearing blue pajamas and bright red slippers with fuzzy trim, sitting on the braided living room rug and holding my brother in a strangling hug that he endured with that smile; teenage Danny standing up to my father with his fists clenched and me silently egging him on from behind my mother’s piano; watching him through the front storm door window, playing with my kids and other nieces and nephews on the front sidewalk instead of hanging out with the grownups at a family party; the Christmas he was celebrating sobriety and he and one other brother were the only siblings who met me for lunch in Huntley IL; and all the years and dozens of times he reached out to my daughter, encouraging her, no matter his own struggles.
Alcoholism, like many addictive behaviors, can be lethal. To those who must stand by and watch, it feels like helplessly witnessing the slow suicide of your beloved. And if addiction takes their life, the grief survivors feel is indescribable, even though your beloved is finally free from their tormentor.
#addictionawareness #addictionrecovery #unconditionallove #youarenotyouraddiction