It was the first devastation I experienced in life, the first time I knew existence was temporary, even though I vaguely believed then in the conventional idea of a Protestant Christian afterlife, believed we all reunited as our conscious selves in eternity with the ones we love, sort of like in a vacation home rental somewhere.
When my mother dies, I will start drinking again. It won’t be out of grief. I’m confident I have the strength to handle adversity sober from the four and a half years I haven’t picked up a drink.
That first morning in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in the summer of 2008, I opened the sliding screen door and stepped into my new backyard, my body buzzing with a combination of relief and uncertainty.