My youngest sister called me Monday. She was told she had one year to live if she didn’t stop drinking. Her liver is damaged and she is taking pills to fight the DTs. She also told me she’s going into detox on Friday and the tribal rehab center said they can probably get her admitted in about 2 months. So she has to tough it out that long and try to stay sober. She’s been told she has jaundice but it’s not the biggest health concern she has right now. She’s 33 years old.

She was crying and coughing while trying to tell me this. Sad to say it wasn’t a shock. I’ve seen what alcohol can do and we have a family history of alcoholism.  I consider myself darned lucky I don’t have the same problem. If I did I might already be dead. A friend told me the average life expectancy of a Native person is 52. That’s in a First World country in the 21st century.

I’m trying to find something encouraging to tell her. So far the best I can do is remind her that doctors can be wrong, that she could get better and live way beyond the diagnosis. I also promised to drive her to rehab when she gets the calll. I’m the only one she can ask, our dad can’t make the drive and our sister has a toddler but frankly doesn’t want to be bothered. I’m trying to stay calm and rational.  Not giving into anxiety or at least the appearance of doing so is my way of dealing. If I freak out. it will give her permission to do so and possibly convince her she really is doomed. So I’m giving drama the hard stare and keeping it in its place. It is what I do.

I’ve had practice holding up in lousy circumstances these past 9 months. There has been some drama but not as much as there could have been. Bear has had his rants and fits and I’ve listened.  I sympathize and then release it,  let his words and rage flow over me but not allowing them to sink in. The anger I can resist but the hurt stings me as well. Since most of my empathy has been used up I’m sorry to admit there’s a limited amount I could spare my sister. But I still kept the drama from running wild so that’s good. I do what I can and try not to let it run dry, to protect myself because there’s nobody to hold me up if I fall.

As I said before I found comfort of sorts in hockey and my Wings just lost, we’re out of the playoffs now. I am bummed but it’s all right. There’s next year. Heck there’s next week.  In the words of Journey, don’t stop believing and don’t stop moving. It will be all right.


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