I too am a former first responder on a volunteer ambulance squad. I too have seen a wide swath of death created by drug abuse and particularly alcohol, including the following incident, which haunts me to this day.He was lucky. Imagine the suffering his wife and child have been through, will continue to go through for the rest of their lives. There are a lot of scary stories about us alkies dying from our disease. But I believe there's a worse fate in store for me if I ever pick up a drink.
One winter night, a man went out with his friends to celebrate the birth of his child. Afterwards, they dropped him off—drunk—in front of his house. He never made it indoors. Neighbors found him the next morning frozen to death outside his front door.
Maybe I'll kill someone. Run them down with my car. My cousin's wife ran over his own baby daughter and killed her. He's had to live with that for more than twenty years. And it wasn't even his bottom; he went on drinking for several months afterwards. Maybe I'll accidentally decapitate a friend without even knowing it, like John Kemper Hutcherson did three years ago. Or maybe I'll spend a few years as a wet-brain before dying, like I believe William Roscoe Kintner did. You'd never know it (i.e. that he had a wet-brain [added 22 Aug]) from his obituary, but I knew him personally. I think about the difference between him as a vibrant and reknowned teacher of mine in college, and him as an old man with a permanent dazed and unresponsive expression on his face, slowly and painfully shuffling his way to the Post Office—a distance of a few hundred feet at most—to get his mail.
These thoughts scare me. They remind me there are fates worse than death, and that we alcoholics are particularly prone to them.
God save me from myself!