Name: Katrina Ariel Sammons
I wish you were here.
Let’s go back to ten years ago, when I was never seen without a bow in my hair, and took pride in the fact that my brown doe eyes were identical to my father’s. That little girl I used to be – she knew that she didn’t have things figured out, but that was okay. Like others her age, she had light up shoes, a sticker collection, and someone to tuck her in at night. She was impressionable, bright, hopeful, and she wouldn’t believe me if I told her what was coming. Even if I had the ability to warn that innocent child, the reality is that all of the preparation in the world couldn’t have changed the outcome.
It’s hard to pinpoint when I lost my dad. I was never ‘ready’ for my father to drop dead from the effects of alcoholism, but I should have expected it when he did. There were many days prior to December 23rd where I looked at the man who held my hand at the bus stop for all those years, but didn’t see my dad. He felt gone, and then he suddenly was. It was, and still is, hard to imagine that he became a number on a chart of tens and thousands of individuals who die a preventable death. A chart of tens and thousands of Americans who left a scarred family behind.
In Alanon they say that alcoholism is a disease – and that couldn’t be more true. Catching the consequences of alcoholism didn’t come in a cough or headache, but rather in the form of something that changed the trajectory of my life. I often wonder that if my dad had gotten help, would high school graduation be so hard? Would I have to walk down the aisle all alone? Would I be able to listen to Christmas songs without thinking about lowering him into the ground?
I always go back in my head to the ways I could have bought us more time together, and to all the attempted interventions that ended with a drunken drive home. I try to think of a possible action I could have taken, but didn’t – and there wasn’t one. Why did it fall onto a ten year old’s shoulders to clean up the disasters that never should have been a possibility in the first place? He was enabled by the ones who had power over pouring that extra shot, who let him off with a warning when he drove with vodka in his cup holder, who wanted to punish a person who needed help, but it all came crashing down on his girl that was waiting for him at home. And there is nothing that his girl wouldn’t trade to have one more hug from her dad.
I don’t know how to tackle America’s addiction crisis as one person, but I want to see my dad again so desperately that I could probably figure it out. I’d have given all the money I had in my piggy bank to pay for his therapy, all the stuffed animals on my bed for him to give it a chance, and all the blood in my veins for him to stop drinking. It’s too late for me, but for many kids there is still time to prevent the loss of a parent to addiction.