Saturday, 25 February 2012

Happy Birthday Zach - Goodbyes to Heroin sick

Today is Zach's birthday. What a milestone. Two years ago there was doubt that he would survive for much longer, so deep were his addictions and so profound his episodes. These illness were symbiotically entwined. They fed off of one another, like ticks on the backs of elephants. For the last fifteen years or so we would celebrate Zach's birthdays by going out to eat. Many the time he would eat and then disappear into the loo in order to void himself of what he had enjoyed minutes earlier. Heroin does that to you. Heroin sick. Black muck that stains whatever it hits.

In our old house, where all this began, I had taken over my daughter's bedroom. We had built into the loft and our bedroom and bathroom were above Zach's room. 'Beth' had moved into our old bedroom and I had transformed her room in my study. It was there that I moved my books and laptop and where I attempted to research and write my doctorate. A wide, wooden desk overlooked the road outside and I could keep tabs on who came and went. On the left hand side of the room I had put in place a pristine white futon. It was hardly used. Sometimes I would simply move from typist chair to futon just to see how it felt to lay down on it. The room was bright and airy and faced south, so that the sun bathed it in a glow from noon on wards - when it shone, of course.

One night, whether it was a birthday or some kind of celebration, Zach came back home with friends. To this day I can't remember who it could have been but they had certainly been 'over-doing it.' As was the general rule of thumb when Zach lived with us during his teens and later years, the noise level rose over the small hours. I remember hearing the banging of doors and considerable retching. I feared going down to see what was happening. It all sounded too familiar.

In the morning, entering my study, I found puddles of black spew surrounding my futon. The futon itself was covered in patches of wet, grey stains; rorschach patterns. It appeared as if a hurried attempt had been made to clean off the vomit but what was left was even worse. It was ruined, never to be clean again. Later on I gave it to Zach and he used it from apartment to apartment. Fortunately he covered it. I was happy when we finally discarded this piece of furniture when Zach decided to 'live' again. Heroin chic indeed.

I rang Zach earlier today to wish him a Very Happy Birthday. I asked him how he felt to be this exalted age. His voice came back, measured and modulated. 'I feel incredibly sane,' he answered me. 'They say that with age comes sanity...' And hopefully no more black bile.


Tony Morris said...

From rorsach to cummerbund in waiting in just two years; truly remarkable!

Ros Morris said...

That will put the cat among the pigeons...!