pages 58-59

   The woman Alex wrote about in the previous pages- the one with whom he had a tumultuous and destructive relationship- is the woman he brought as his date to my wedding. I got married in August of 2010, when Alex had just started using heavily and had yet to master the art of hiding it. He was a member of my wedding party, a "bridesman." I wanted him to stand up with me, being the person who knew me the best and longest. He showed up right before the ceremony, sweaty, jittery, and especially pale for summer. After our brief vows he vanished again, missing most of the pictures. Later that evening at the reception, his girlfriend, the girl he wrote about, approached me in a panic, saying that Alex had taken her phone and had been gone for hours and could I do something, could I go find him? This sent my father into a rage, both the fact that Alex had left to do what we all knew he was doing but wouldn't say, and that his girlfriend, who my father hated, was making a scene. They started screaming at each other just off the dance floor, complete with insults and hand gestures. Just as I ran over to break them up, Alex came down the stairs where the DJ was set up. "Let's dance, sissy!" He exclaimed, taking my hand just as the obnoxious opening notes of Surfin Bird poured out of the speakers. It was a typical Alex request, a song that's both hilarious and egregious, offensive to the ears but inarguably classic, and I couldn't help but follow him out to the dance floor, where we spun and spazzed and laughed until our stomachs hurt and sweat poured down our faces.
   Our youngest brother, Andy, gets married in less than a month. Alex was really looking forward to the wedding. He spoke a lot of how happy he was for Andy, of what he would wear, of what songs he would insist we spaz out to on the dance floor. Every time he talked about it, though, I worried. I didn't want Andy to have to deal with his disappearing act. I didn't want him to show up high, or use during the reception, or bring someone who would cause a scene. Throughout my life, I have had to consciously cherry pick the moments with Alex I to hang onto. When I think of my wedding, I choose to think about that moment on the dance floor, and not all the other moments that led up to it. I was scared that Andy would have to make that kind of choice, too. He doesn't have to now, and I'm not sure which is worse. That is the never-ending question the family of an addict asks themselves: is it better they go on living and continue to inflict this pain onto themselves and everyone who loves them, or to not live at all? Sometimes I am able to let myself feel glad he isn't suffering anymore, but right now I'd let him ruin all the weddings in the world for one more dance.

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