She pulled us aside as soon as we arrived at the restaurant.

“It’s really bad. He got really drunk last night, yelling and screaming and swearing. He’s gone through an entire fifth of gin in less than two days. Your Dad told him today that if he behaved again like he did last night while you and the kids were here, we would get up and leave. All of us. Just wanted to warn you. He can barely walk, and he’s shaking so bad he can barely hold a pen today. He hasn’t had anything to drink yet today and it’s getting to him.”

We arrived a the table and there were two drinks in front of him already. Both doubles. The first one was half gone. We weren’t that late. My Mom shot me a sideways glance when he picked up his drink with his shaky hand.

And so the dinner went. Upon our arrival, he was subdued, trying very hard to control the shakes, and time his drinks. Once the first one was gone, the shake subsided, and he was the uncle I’ve always known. He was personable, funny, and able to take a hint when I said that dinner was a politics-discussion free zone. Discussing politics is an old family sport. Just be mindful to NOT disagree with anyone at the table.

He made it through dinner, but I knew that he was biding his time until he could get home to my parent’s house so he could have more to drink. He walked very slowly to the car that my Dad was driving, struggling to appear ‘normal.’

He got back to my parents house and drank, yelled, and swore at the tv, until my Dad and his other brother put him to bed.

This is what death by alcohol looks like. It’s slow. It’s painful. It’s ugly. My Dad’s younger brother is killing himself. Day by day, drink by drink.

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