Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sue and Fran

The day before yesterday my friend Greg called to tell me our friend Sue Weber was in a coma with Cirrhosis of the liver. I couldn’t believe it. In the last year I’d already lost two good friends the same way. I remember thinking how quickly my other friend named Sue went after we found out she had Cirrhosis. Greg called me less than fifteen minutes later with news that Sue was gone.

Just like the others, it wasn’t a great surprise. Sue had fallen into a dark depression. Instead of responding to her obvious calls for help, we avoided her unpleasantness.

When my marriage fell apart, my ex talked me into taking antidepressants. I learned these drugs and booze did not mix at all. I made an ass of myself. I can’t believe my friends stood by me through it all.

Sue was going through the same thing except she hit the booze with a vengeance. Her whiskey had to be at least 101 proof and she’d kill the whole bottle.

I told her I had to make a choice between booze and the pills. I gave up the pills and surprisingly I didn’t need the booze after that.

I decided there was no reason to mask the struggle of my divorce. Things really were that bad and I had to learn to deal with it.

I posted recently about Sue’s husband Fran. They were my friends who went on the Jerry Springer Show. As smart as these two were, there was always an element of trailer trash to their relationship. I’ve never known a couple who loved each other as much, or who fought as hard.

Sue was a perpetual student. I’m not sure how many degrees she collected, but I know she had a lot to do with Fran’s Master’s degree.

Their son Wolfgang was a hemophiliac, a bleeder. They went out of their way to make sure he had a normal childhood. Wolfgang was involved in every sport. He jumped ramps with his skateboard and bike. I’ll never forget Sue staying up all night, in tears, injecting her son with drugs that would stop the internal bleeding.

Nothing Sue did was easy. She was a school teacher. She taught in the toughest schools in St. Louis County. She taught in Wellston. If you’re familiar with St. Louis, you know that’s a war zone. The state had to come in and take control.

Sue told me horror stories of breaking grade school kids up who were openly performing acts of sex in her classroom.

The last I heard from Sue she wanted to use me as a reference when she was taking the bar exam to become an attorney. She said she wanted to fight the good fight and represent people who didn’t have a voice.

Things were getting tough for Fran. Sue slipped into a perpetual funk and wouldn’t socialize. Every plan we made, she would cancel at the last minute. After a while we didn’t even bother.

Fran will have to raise their little girl Jenna by himself now. I love them both and will really miss her.

Sue wasn’t keeping her unhappiness a secret. We have to be there for each other because otherwise we’ll regret it.


Tracy said...

I'm sorry about your friend David and youre so right. I've heard calls for help before but felt helpless. I think it's immaturity on my part or that the pain is too great to face.

r32 said...

That is a hard thing to see. I think in some ways there is nothing anyone can do in severe self destruction. I remember my son telling me "I know you think I can change, but I'm too weak" and you know, it struck me later that that was true. There is no shame in it, we are all a mix of qualities. A suffering and self destructive person can be loved, but often at a distance. The trajectory can be a bit too intense for the ones being left behind. I am thankful for the experience with both my son and sister, that I could love them as I watched them move on. Quite painful, but no other options. You just can't make someone want to live.

Dorothy said...

uh... that was my 8 year olds ill begotten google id. Didn't know it was the google account I was in... sheesh, I'm not sure how I got these kids.....