Print Story Sometimes they die.
By Gedvondur (Tue Aug 18, 2015 at 05:56:14 PM EST) death (all tags)
I've been dealing with something for a few weeks.  It's been gnawing on me and it's time I get it out.

Sometimes they die. I have a good friend who told me that when we were talking about addicts and alcoholics. Sometimes they die.

I think wrote about Mog in another diary years ago. I can’t find it, maybe I didn’t write about him. I don’t remember. But Mog has been a source of guilt, a pain in my mind for a long, long time.

When I was 19 or 20, I was managing a computer store that dealt with new and used computer equipment. One of the people I met there, a fellow Commodore enthusiast was a guy named Mog. Mog was active duty Marine Corps, assigned to the local Marine/Navy Reserve Station. Turns out he was into D&D as well as computers, and we all became friends. He even worked at my store when he mustered out of the Marine Corps, before we had to lay him off during the summer of 92 when the economy turned to crap.

Mog was abrasive to a lot of people. I never knew a woman who liked him when she first met him. Looking back on it, it’s clear now he was somewhere on the Autism spectrum, if on the low side. He would have been horrified to tears to know how much he actually offended people. He really had no idea.

Mog’s life post Marine Corps was anything idyllic. He dated a girl for about a year and then it all fell apart, leading to literally a decade of pining away for her. He couldn’t hold a job for more than a year at most. He joined the Army reserves, then the National Guard, then the Army Reserves, then back to the National Guard. His success in any of these reserve roles was minimal. As far as I can tell they took him because he was ex-Marine and fulfilled a quota for warm bodies.

Mog came from a strict church-going God-Family-America household. His father was a former Marine himself and seemed to think that any personal defects a person had could be overcome with sufficient amounts of discipline and willpower. He loved Mog, but could never accept that Mog was fundamentally broken and was never going to be the clean-living all-American family man that he was.

For Mog’s part, he tried. He went to church a fair amount. But he really liked porn. I mean REALLY liked porn. To the point that at one time in the late 90s, he was seriously attempting to catalog, index, and cross-reference all the still-pic porn on Usenet. He complained to me one day that people were careless in their descriptions and file naming conventions of said porn and was genuinely upset that people would post the SAME pic over and over again. Mog would also fuck anything with a vagina if he got drunk. Considering his personality and demeanor, this was a pretty rare occurrence.
In the late 90s I made him quit coming out with the rest of us for league darts at the bar. He had taken to getting a pitcher of beer just for himself, and having two or three that night. Even by Wisconsin standards, this a lot for a weeknight. Since he was still living with his parents, he would insist on driving himself home. One of us, often me, would have to sit with him in an all-night diner until two or three in the morning where he was sober enough to drive home.

After a couple of months of this, I told him to stop coming and get a handle on his drinking. He was bellicose about it until I told him, okay, you can come, but if I see you get in that car hammered, I’ll call the cops myself. A few days later he apologised for that behavior and actually stopped drinking altogether. Lasted almost a year and after that he only drank moderately. From an alcohol standpoint, Mog seemed to have gotten his shit together.

Fast forward to the mid-2000s. Mog’s job and life situation are steadily declining. His ego, only supported by a slender stalk of intellect, is getting really tiresome. His inflexibility, insistence on no change, and general asshattery has made him increasingly unpopular among his own friends, including me. He’s now working in cleaning services, and cash jobs. The entire time he insists that everyone he works for is stupid and doesn’t understand how to do things properly. We’ve all noticed his drinking has increased but...well at least *I* didn’t think it had gotten out of control.

In 2003, his National Guard unit gets called up, with one week notice. (Or so he tells me.) They are going to Iraq. Mog is one of the company’s cooks. He comes over to talk about it, he’s scared. I don’t blame him. We have a few drinks and talk about going. I tell him not to worry about his apartment (he’s been kicked out of his parents house by now and living in some shithole apartment) or his stuff. We’d move it all into storage for him and put it all back into a new apartment when he gets back from the Sand. I tell him about all the support that he would get from his friends.

He broke down on the porch that night. Tears, fears, and an admission that he had told his First Sergeant that he could go, that he couldn’t handle it. At this point Mog had been on one branch of the military or another for 18 years. His military service was the only thing in his life he thought he could point to with pride. Now the call had come and he wasn’t going to go. I spent a few hours convincing him that he NEEDED to go. I finally got him to agree, and I even agreed to call his first shirt and talk to him.

The next day I spoke to Mog’s First Sergeant. He told me that Mog was emotionally unstable and drank far too much. Where they were going, they need to be able count on every man, even the company’s cooks. Mog would not be allowed to go to Iraq. I thanked him for his time and wished him well. At the instant, I thought the First Sergeant was being kind of an asshole. But as it turns out, instead of dishonorable discharge I thought Mog was going to get for refusing to go to begin with, he got instead a General Discharge. By refusing to take Mog, the First Sergeant shielded Mog from the Uniform Code of Military Justice. To the Guard, Mog didn’t refuse, but was unable to join. So a General Discharge happened.
It broke him. Mog had been a damaged individual before, but looking back on it, this one act broke him. All his pride in being a veteran, all his pride in being an ex-Marine, all of it turned to ashes in the face of his own cowardice. He got counseling and antidepressants, but it didn’t matter. He began to drink more.

It reached the point where we threw him out of the weekly D&D group. Told him that he had to clean his shit up, stop drinking and get a job. It was painful, but we did it. One member of our group warned us that Mog wasn’t going to stop. He has a sister that is addict and an alcoholic. He warned us that Mog was going to continue. I thought he was wrong. If we supported Mog enough he was going to pull out. He was going to pull out of this and at least get some steady if low-level job.

Six months later, he got a DWI (drunk driving offense) and wrecked his car. Fortunately, he wasn’t hurt and he hurt no-one else. He called me a week later, would I please take him to his court date? I agreed to. He had a 9:00am court time. I told him I was going to show up at seven, we’d get some coffee, then go to the courthouse, getting there nice and early. I also told him to make sure he was in his Sunday best. He agreed.

I showed up at seven, dressed in my suit as well. I called him. He answered right away, told me he’d be down in about 15 mins, was just getting dressed after a shower and a shave. No problem we had lots of time. Travel to the courthouse was only 15 minutes.

At 7:20 I called him again. He’s polishing his shoes, getting on his socks and is sorry it’s taking so long.

7:45, he answers after a lot of rings. He’s almost ready, has to quick iron his suit coat, it’s wrinkled. I’m irritated, but we still have lots of time.

8:10 I call again. No answer.

8:20, I call, no answer. I walk up to the building and ring his apartment buzzer. No answer, no buzz-in. I walk around the building to his apartment windows, he’s on the first floor. All the shades are drawn, I can’t see in. No gaps.

8:30 I’ve gotten into the building by hanging around the door until someone comes out, then just catching it before it closes. I go to his apartment door and knock. No answer. I pound on it with my fist and shout for him. No answer. I can’t hear anything through the door. I check the door, it’s locked.

8:40 I call the police for a welfare check and go outside to wait for them. I’m in a million dark places. In my mind he’s dead, suicide. He’s hit it head, unconscious bleeding. He’s had an accident, the apartment is filled with gas, he’s had a heart attack. Something. I’m chain-smoking at this point, my hands shaking.

9:40 a.m. The police finally show up. They get the building Super to unlock Mog’s apartment I follow them into the building. I’ve told them the whole story of why I was here and what has transpired up to this point. The Super unlocks the door and walks away, unconcerned. This kind of activity is common in her shithole building. The police draw their guns and wave me back, warning me not to come in until they give the okay. I few moments later the second one calls me in.

I go into the apartment, Mog is slouched backwards on the couch. He’s wearing a dress shirt, buttoned unevenly and underwear. His dress pants are on the sofa next to him along with his coat and tie. He’s wearing one dark sock. On his face, I can see he’s tried to shave. He’s missed great patches on his left cheek and neck of what appears to be three days growth. It’s clear from his wet hair that he’s showered.

One cop is trying to wake him up. The other comes out of the bedroom with a handle of cheap vodka with a half-inch sloshing around in the bottom and a bottle of Wellbutrin with a few pills in it. He asks me if I thought Mog was trying to kill himself. I said no. I didn’t. But it was clear that Mog had been taking anti-depressants, a pretty heavy duty dose as well as drinking to excess since sometime last night.

They called an ambulance and he was taken to the hospital. I went there and called his parents. His father wouldn’t leave work, but his mother came. She was hobbling on crutches, just had both knees replaced. I don’t even know how she drove. In the hospital I made him drink charcoal to soak up the alcohol, rather than seeing him get stomach pumped. The nurse made it clear: Charcoal or stomach pump. I made it clear once she left the room: Charcoal or I punch you in the face and pour it down your mouth anyway.

The police told me and his mother that we either had to take legal responsibility for him for the next 48 hours or he’d be involuntarily committed to the local mental health facility for a dry-out. His mother clearly couldn’t deal with him, not with two bad knees. I was so angry at this point I was pretty sure that if I took responsibility for him I’d end up knocking his teeth out before the end. Plus, I was sure my wife wasn’t going to take kindly to me bringing drunken Mog home for the weekend. I have him committed for the weekend.

For the next year, I see Mog from time to time. But I’m still hopping mad at how much he scared me. Hopping mad that he got blitzed out of his mind the DAY of his drunk driving court date. Years of “borrowing” money, rides, and sobbing on my shoulder and about a year later he was getting massively drunk again. He moved in with his sister, used her and her husband for free lodging and drank like crazy. Did the same thing to his parents. They all threw him out. I had had enough. I pretty much pushed him out of my life, and so did a lot of my friends. It was clear that all I was doing was enabling him to continue to drink. For the most part, everyone stopped talking to him, taking his calls.

It tore me apart to do this, despite everything that happened. I wrote a diary when I did it, but I can’t find it. I felt like a terrible friend. I felt like a failure because I couldn’t believe in him anymore, couldn’t support him anymore. I knew, and I know, that alcoholics use you. But there was a lot of guilt and anger. I’m not sure who I was more angry with, him or me.

He ended up in the homeless shelter. Moved to the homeless shelter in Chicago and then back again. A few of my more charitable friends (at least more charitable than I am) would see him for coffee or lunch once or twice a year. I held myself away. Too angry. Too guilty. I couldn’t see him. I had believed so hard that he could turn it around and for that belief I got used. I just couldn’t. I’m angry even typing this. And guilty. I didn’t believe hard enough. I don’t think I could.

He was living in and out of the homeless shelter. Had begun calling himself a “disabled veteran,” which was only believable if you counted his mental problems and the probable state of his liver. I had been hoping for years that one day he’d walk up to me or one of the others and show us a 1 year chit from AA. But I didn’t think he would. I had told him to go to AA. This is what he said to me:

“What the fuck good do you think that’s going to do? What are they going to tell me, to stop drinking? I already fucking know that.”

He may have known it but he sure as hell didn’t do it.

Three weeks ago on a Saturday, my wife and I came home from a nice day just driving around, looking at antique shops. I went into the bedroom to change into some lighter clothes (it was warm, I wanted shorts) when she came into the room looking solemn.

“Mog passed” she said.

I sat down on the bed. We chatted about how she had found out...the email list all of our friends were on, one of them posted it, had been contacted by Mog’s father. I had heard he had turned diabetic, but wasn’t stopping his drinking. Needle diabetic. I suppose this really wasn’t surprising.

I wasn’t upset. I was sad. Any upset or real sadness….no. I can’t have that. I can’t. I left this guy behind years ago. I did it for sound reasons. I won’t cry now, I won’t be upset now.

The next Tuesday comes and we attend the funeral. A few of my other friends show up. Right before the service, the undertaker speaks to the small knot of us standing around, making small talk trying to talk about anything but the end of the failed life we were attending. It turns out that there are not enough pallbearers. For Mog’s family, there is only one brother-in-law and a boyfriend of his other sister. Numbly, I agree. I don’t want his father to have to carry him.

Carry him. That’s what I and four other of my friends did. We carried Mog again. We carried Mog for the last time. First out of the church for military honors (Thank you U.S. Marine Corps) and then into the back of a herse.

I carried him for the last time, when I expected to never carry him again. I can’t say I wanted to. Maybe that makes me a bad person. I didn’t want to carry him because I didn’t want him to be dead. I didn’t want to carry him because I had *already* carried him for so long. I didn’t want to carry him because maybe he’s in that casket because I stopped carrying him before. I didn’t want to carry him because he put himself in that casket and left us here to deal with the regret about what a waste of a life he was. There’s even guilt in typing that.

I didn’t cry at home. I didn’t cry at the church service. I didn’t cry at the military honors, not even when the Marines folded the flag from his casket and handed it to his father. I didn’t cry when the Marines saluted his coffin, their movements slow and precise as if they ran on clockworks.

A week later and still hadn’t cried. I got into a big fight with my wife, who thought I was acting like an ass to her. She was right, I hadn’t even realized it. We sat down to talk on our bed for a few minutes and I denied there was anything wrong. Then she asked me, is this about Mog?

No. It’s not about Mog. It’s not supposed to be about Mog. Mog’s dead and I left him behind a long time ago. He’s gone now and it doesn’t matter. It’s not about Mog. It can’t BE about Mog. I left Mog behind. HE left US behind. He used us. He wasted his life, I don’t have tears for him.

Then I cried for a half an hour with her holding me. I cried big shuddering sobs, the kind where you can’t hardly take a breath before the next wave crashes over you. I didn’t want it to be about Mog, but it was about Mog. Mog, a man who didn’t know how to control himself, or how to behave with other people, a man who I used to be friends with.

Someone who spoke to Mog three or four months ago told me that he said he thought I hated him now. I didn’t hate him. I still don’t hate him. I just couldn’t bear what he had become, what he had done to himself. I hated how powerless I was to stop him and no matter how many times he proved to me that I couldn’t help him. I still felt like I could and it felt like I was a betrayer when I stopped.

Sometimes they die. Alcoholics and addicts. Sometimes there is no rock-bottom to hit, or they just wallow there on that rock-bottom, gasping for air like a goldfish on the carpet. They leave us behind with the sure reality in our heads that there was nothing that we could do and the screaming guilt in our hearts that there should have been something we could do.

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Sometimes they die. | 23 comments (23 topical, 0 hidden)
I'm sorry by clock (4.00 / 1) #1 Tue Aug 18, 2015 at 06:34:52 PM EST
It's all complicated and it's all sad.

I'm so sorry for your loss. I wish you peace.

I agree with clock entirely --Kellnerin

It is by Gedvondur (2.00 / 0) #10 Wed Aug 19, 2015 at 09:39:46 AM EST
Complicated and sad is exactly what it is.  What a waste of a life. He was flawed, but not so flawed that he couldn't have done better than that.

[ Parent ]
Sometimes they die. by ana (4.00 / 2) #2 Tue Aug 18, 2015 at 08:12:05 PM EST
And you found tears for him, which is a great tribute.

I get stranger things than you free with my breakfast cereal. --ni

Thanks for that by Gedvondur (4.00 / 1) #9 Wed Aug 19, 2015 at 09:37:57 AM EST
I really hadn't thought of it that way.  I

[ Parent ]
You were a good friend to him by purr (4.00 / 1) #3 Tue Aug 18, 2015 at 10:37:10 PM EST
  Whether you knowledge it or not, you were a good friend to him.  However, you have to let people live their own lives regardless of how badly they lived those lives.  You can not let others drag you down.  YOu can throw people a life line but if they don't want to help themselves, you have to let them go.

I am glad to know there are people like you are around. Thank you for your effort to help.  You are appreciated.

Life is good when you are young. Then it sucks when you are old. And then you die. Live it while you got it.
Thank you by Gedvondur (4.00 / 1) #8 Wed Aug 19, 2015 at 09:35:14 AM EST
I do appreciate it.  Trying to work out that walking away was okay.

[ Parent ]
It was by iGrrrl (4.00 / 1) #14 Wed Aug 19, 2015 at 10:35:52 PM EST
It really, really was.

"Beautiful wine, talking of scattered everythings"
(and thanks to Scrymarch)

[ Parent ]
Not sure I'm parsing your statement correctly... by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #4 Wed Aug 19, 2015 at 12:45:35 AM EST
but in the event I am, rest assured that "mental problems" DO count for defining disabled veterans.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Of course by Gedvondur (4.00 / 1) #7 Wed Aug 19, 2015 at 09:30:52 AM EST
It wasn't a comment regarding mental illness in veterans, more a comment on how I don't feel his particular use of it was justified.

He was presenting himself a little too much like he had actually gone to Iraq for my taste.  "Disabled veteran" has the connotation that you received the disability in service.

[ Parent ]
Having been in AA for 26 years... by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #5 Wed Aug 19, 2015 at 07:17:59 AM EST
and Sober for 21. You did exactly what needed to be done. So did his family. And everyone else. Sometimes it just isn't enough. I've seen this story quite a few times. Been to several funerals like that. The roughest one was for the guy who was sober about half a year when his father died, so he went out drinking, found some heroin, and OD'd. Irish family. Double funeral at the Catholic church.

"What are they going to tell me, to stop drinking?" That's a common reaction. No, AA doesn't tell you to stop drinking, we tell (and show) you how to stop drinking. Well, one way to stop, anyway.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Ya by Gedvondur (4.00 / 1) #6 Wed Aug 19, 2015 at 09:27:18 AM EST
Thanks, man.  I know I did what had to be done, but it felt like a decision more about how much he was draining me rather than what was good for him.

He never took his therapy seriously either, and he needed that just as much as he needed AA.  Oh, he'd take the antidepressants...but that was it.  Listening wasn't his strong suit.

[ Parent ]
Draining off you was not good for him. by iGrrrl (4.00 / 1) #15 Wed Aug 19, 2015 at 10:38:11 PM EST
Or you.

"Beautiful wine, talking of scattered everythings"
(and thanks to Scrymarch)

[ Parent ]
That is true by Gedvondur (2.00 / 0) #19 Thu Aug 20, 2015 at 09:50:06 AM EST
In the end, it seems like it didn't matter.  He was destructive with or without help.

[ Parent ]
Through the magic of mysql command line by hulver (4.00 / 2) #11 Wed Aug 19, 2015 at 12:30:42 PM EST
Cheese is not a hat. - clock
Wow. by ana (4.00 / 1) #12 Wed Aug 19, 2015 at 12:34:35 PM EST
 We really have a full-service management.

I get stranger things than you free with my breakfast cereal. --ni

[ Parent ]
Holy crap, Hulver. by Gedvondur (2.00 / 0) #13 Wed Aug 19, 2015 at 03:21:56 PM EST
Wow, I thought I had written an entire diary about it.  2006 is when I cut off contact with him.  It doesn't seem that long ago.

Thanks so much for digging it up!

[ Parent ]
Do you still have by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #16 Thu Aug 20, 2015 at 07:13:52 AM EST
the Land Yacht?

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
lol I do! by Gedvondur (4.00 / 1) #18 Thu Aug 20, 2015 at 09:48:50 AM EST
Put 3 inch stainless dual exhaust on it a few years ago.  That 455 is one tired beast, though.  Thinking about selling it and getting something else.

[ Parent ]
Good man by LoppEar (4.00 / 1) #17 Thu Aug 20, 2015 at 08:04:53 AM EST
You are. A good remembrance, thank you.

Thanks, man by Gedvondur (2.00 / 0) #20 Thu Aug 20, 2015 at 09:51:51 AM EST
I try to be. I don't always succeed, but I do try. 

[ Parent ]
Have a +1VSTFP from me by anonimouse (4.00 / 1) #21 Thu Aug 20, 2015 at 01:15:13 PM EST

Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
Thank you, sir! n/t by Gedvondur (2.00 / 0) #22 Thu Aug 20, 2015 at 03:40:00 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Rodger that. n/t by Gedvondur (4.00 / 0) #24 Fri Aug 21, 2015 at 09:53:06 AM EST

Sometimes they die. | 23 comments (23 topical, 0 hidden)