June 14, 1999

Dear Laura,

Janet & I had just returned from a Seattle/Silverdale weekend trip when we received a chilling midnight phone call from your nephew, Dwayne. He said you had died, and my first reaction was disbelief. How could this be? You had attended an AA meeting with me recently, and admitted you were an alcoholic in recovery. I thought you had been sober for 6 months. As it began to dawn on me I was the only one left from our family of origin to deal with your disease, I felt disheartened and totally numb inside. We learned from doctors in the following days you sustained a perforated ulcer causing toxic peritonitis. You put on high heels but never made it out of your house the evening of June 13th. A quarter-century of hard drinking caused you to die prematurely 4 months and 6 days after your 46th birthday. The addictive path was your choice at every turn, but what a loss.

Do you remember your intervention at Portland Adventist Hospital Thanksgiving week of 1998? You screamed, “Poor little rich boy” in a futile attempt to disrupt the proceedings. Doctors, your trust officer and I agreed in order to live, you had to stop drinking. Do you remember your mandatory outpatient follow-up treatment in Oregon City? You resisted mightily my driving you to a required appointment where the counselor stated plainly: either stop drinking or expect death within 6 months. You never attended any further scheduled appointments. I told a friend during Christmas season 1998 you would die within half a year, and I still couldn’t process Dwayne’s phone call. None of us knew that women sustain health complications due to alcohol abuse at an accelerated rate when compared to men.

You and I did a surreal dance with your alcoholic disease for over 25 years … or was it a symptom? Do you remember numerous stays at Damasch State (Mental) Hospital in the 70’s and 80’s? You had been dual diagnosed affective-schizophrenic and bipolar and prescribed appropriate medicines. Do you remember when I found you a new shrink? After Rick, your husband of almost 19 years, died from alcohol-induced health complications, you found solace talking to a psychiatrist.

I wish you had not self-medicated with booze. I tried to be your champion and your advocate, Laura. I tried to be a good brother. We were the only two who shared the common thread of children linked inextricably to Dad’s addiction until he stopped drinking for good in 1965. We both survived his bipolar episodes from 1965-1970 but I left you to cope alone after heading for Whitman College in the fall of 1968. Now what? Thank God for Janet! I miss you like crazy.

Love, Brad

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