ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching
Book Two, Chapter 136: Toxins, All
I’m in the grocery’s parking lot watching Joshua drive off. He’s headed to the house where he is living temporarily with Rich and Joe, where Joe smokes and drinks — or did before his chemo and radiation treatment began this week that’s put him off “smokes and booze”, as he calls them.
Joshua is a mimic. He’s impressionable. Is he being influenced by my older brother? But the other question is: What’s the six-pack he just bought numbing? I know he’s in pain. From his break-up with Christy. From feeling lonely. From missing his daddy. From his uncle’s cancer.
I tried to sleep my pain away. I thought about killing myself to get away from the pain. Now I feel it. It doesn’t feel good but I face it, feel it, think about it, write about it, talk about it, talk about it more, release a little bit of it . . . let go of a little bit more. Healing takes time.
Joshua calls me tonight. “I’ll throw out the beer. I won’t drink it, if that’s what you want.”
It’s not what I want, is it? If he just does what I want he’s a pleaser, caving in to my wishes. That’s not healthy, either.
Ernie didn’t like to talk about his past. It was too painful. But he told me this: “It was difficult to quit drinking. I had my hands full. I had to quit. Not think about what caused it. Or how people had hurt me. Just quit the drinking.”
So, Ernie quit drinking. Yet deep hurt was still within him, so he turned to other things to ease his pain. He even turned to me. In the end, when he felt so bad but before he knew he was dying — or maybe he did know — he said: “People are traitors, abandoning me. Too much pain. I’m going to get a bottle of rum.”
Joshua’s beer. Ernie’s wished-for bottle of rum. And while I’m at it, how about my chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies? All toxic. All for the same purpose.
And none of them works, not for long.