Based on true events from my perspective of that day
There was only one thing that was different about that summery Saturday in Cape Town and that was that the wind was not blowing. It was sunny, windless and warm; perfect weather for a braai with the cousin. I was not planning on spending the entire evening there, but I said I would go so even if I was there for an hour or two at least I would have shown my face. I regret thinking that now, but what did I know. It was about an hour before I was going to start getting ready when I received a call from my mom. She was in tears telling me to get to my cousin, because he was dead.
I did not believe it; Full-stop. I would not believe it; Full-stop. I had spoken to him earlier that day asking what I should bring along to the braai so there was no way he could be dead. I thought I would arrive at the house and find him sitting in his wheelchair with his harmonica on his lap, one of his silly hats on his head and a smoke in his hand. After an emotional drive we finally arrived at the house and there he was; lifeless in his doorway, with a sheet thrown over him. I wanted to go to him and comfort him, but I was too terrified of seeing his lifeless body without that spark and without that light. His sister had to tell everyone that the braai was cancelled. I was thankful that that task did not fall to me. We stood there waiting for my aunt and uncle to get back while the police questioned the girl who had called the paramedics.
The girl who was with him was hysterical. She went from room to room crying. I kept looking at that white sheet. Part of me was still hoping he would wake up soon. His brother-in-law had found open sachets with a white powder inside near to his hand where his body had collapsed. Three were empty; one was still intact. There were empty wine bottles, an empty whiskey bottle and a cigarette that had burnt out on the kitchen counter. The whole kitchen had been redesigned so that everything was accessible to him in the wheelchair. I didn’t tell you that three years earlier a drunk pedestrian had walked across the road in front of his motorbike and that accident left him crippled from the waist down. I didn’t tell you he has a son.
That tragic day a mother and father lost a son; a sister lost a brother; an aunt and uncle lost a nephew; a cousin lost a cousin and a little boy lost his daddy too soon in his young life. I know he struggled with his disability. I know it was the copious amounts of alcohol that blurred his thinking and diminished his willpower to the point where he went in search of something stronger to numb the pain. I know he wanted to feel his limbs that he had not felt in so long and I know he never intended to depart from this life that day. I shouldn’t have brushed off his messages earlier that day when he had said he had the drugs and the booze organized. Just because I know all that it does not bring him back and it does not undo what has been done.
I wish this was the only story you ever had to read about the heartache of losing someonetoo soon in life to something avoidable like alcohol and drug abuse. If you ever wondered about the effects of over indulgence do not rule out ‘unnecessary death.’ You may think that you have everything under control while you are intoxicated, but that is the alcohol talking, not your common sense. Whether you want to admit it or not alcohol impairs your decision making, because when you have consumed too much you do not think about the consequences of your actions. Do not let the last memory be of you covered by a white sheet, clutching empty sachets of heroin.
“Taunting Death … means pitting oneself against a wily enemy who cannot lose.” – J. K. ROWLING
Bronwyn May (@Bronnmay)