I came home from school in the Fall of 1993 to find my dad passed out drunk on our couch. He had taken a steak knife from the kitchen and dragged it repeatedly across both of his forearms. I’m not sure if he was trying to kill himself, punish himself, or just feel something.
By the time I got there, the blood had dried. I called 911, then poured what was left in his bourbon bottle down the drain. He’d been fired from his job as a lumber salesman that day, and that was the tipping point for his brokenness. He’d never recover.
He’d been drinking heavily in secret since his mid-twenties, but his secret was exposed now. He would get drunk right in front of me for the next few years, shamelessly tipping that 2-liter of bourbon all the way back. He’d even take the plastic piece off that controlled the flow from the tip of the bottle. He was in a hurry to disappear.
I spent the next 4 years trying to help him; I was what experts call an enabler. I just thought I was being a decent son.
When he died in February of ‘96, he left behind pages and pages of poems and songs he had written (usually when he was drunk). When we found him on the night of his death, he had been journaling, and this is the last thing he wrote:
“If this mess should become my demise, so be it… I’ve lived a life few have ever dreamed of.”
We buried my dad when he was 44, but he died when he was 25. He had spent most of his life drunk, died very young, and missed thousands of miracles that have unfolded in my life… but on his last day he was convinced that he had lived a dreamworthy life.
I’m sitting in a coffee shop at a summer camp right now, preparing a message on the life of hope and beauty God invites us into. I’m realizing how small some men’s dreams are.