Mario always said he, “wasn’t in a race to the finish line”, in reference to cutting his life short. As depressed as he would get, he said he didn’t want to commit suicide.
In my eyes, he absolutely was in a race to the finish line by destroying his health year after year through drinking. We were polar opposites when it came to health. I want to do every possible thing I can do to extend my healthspan and live as long as I can. Mario seemed to embody the old Hunter S. Thompson quote:
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!'” ― Hunter S. Thompson
I’ve thought a lot about this since February 10, 2021 and I’ve come to the conclusion that in his mind he genuinely believed that he was not in a race to that finish line. But he wasn’t going to change his behavior and he wasn’t going to seek help for the depression that plagued him (nor could I, or anyone close to him, get him that help, as hard as we tried). He was going to stay the course and travel down that path until that path ended, whenever that may be.
I distinctly remember the day, just about 6 months prior to 2/10/21. He was sitting on the small couch in a back bedroom we used as a tv room. The tv wasn’t on. On his face was a look I’d never seen before. If I had to name it, I’d say it was a mixture of fear and deep regret. He declared, “Mario needs to stop drinking.” Referring to himself in the 3rd person was probably the only way he could utter that line and make it all seem okay. It was on this day that he happened to be sober enough to really notice some of the dire symptoms of advanced liver disease that I saw coming from a mile away and was helpless to do anything about.
He spent the last 6 months of his life sober, which I was grateful for. For that short amount of time, I had the old Mario back–that funny, intelligent, highly creative guy I fell for in art school. But by that point, it was far too late. Even if he could have gotten onto a liver transplant list he didn’t want to. Besides, alcoholics need to have 12 months of sobriety and even then, the odds of them getting a new liver over a non-alcoholic are next to nothing.
As the realization sank in that he was not going to recover, he remained sober anyway, which I found interesting. It might have been the singular thing he did for me, not for himself, in the end.
His approach to death was to look it right in the face and say, “so what?” It is no surprise to me now, in hindsight, that he carried on living as if nothing at all was happening. There were no deep discussions about The End, which is something I regret, but I certainly was not about to tell a dying person how they should approach their own demise. Mario burned twice as bright for half as long. No, he wasn’t in a race to the finish line. His race was just much shorter to start out with.
Hello fellow widowed folks.
I’m sorry we’re meeting this way, but nevertheless, I’m glad to have this opportunity (quite possibly one of those, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” type of things) to be the Friday blogger. I hope you’ll come with me on this new journey as I share a little bit about my departed other half, the weaving road of grief, life’s ups and downs, perspective, and anything else that’s rattling around in my brain that I feel may be relatable here.