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My ex-husband past away last year due to complications from his alcoholism. We’d been divorced for 11 years by this time, but still bound together through our daughter, Megan.

By the time Megan turned three, Mark’s drinking had taken it’s toll on our four-year marriage. I never saw this coming. We met five years prior through friends. Both of us just out of college and beginning our careers. Our first year of dating was a very happy time filled with lots of friends, parties and happy hours.

Mark swept me off my feet, proposed, and five months later we were married with the best of intentions for our now budding family.

Mark took a job selling cleaning services to corporations, which provided pretty well in the beginning, but left a lot of room for extracurricular activities, such as happy hours.

I put my freelance marketing career on hold the first two years to raise Megan. Mom instincts took over to guide me through Year One, but Year Two was exhausting physically and mentally. Mark leveraged his “sole breadwinner” position to stay out later and later, so I found little to no relief on evenings and weekends. On top of that, he wasn’t bringing in as much money as he was the first couple of years and we began having a hard time making ends meet.

By Year Three, I felt completely on my own.

I found a great opportunity as a marketing coordinator with a local business. I organized with Megan’s grandparents to share babysitting responsibilities, so I could work full time. Of course, evenings were a whirlwind of playing catch up with household responsibilities while Mark participated less and less claiming exhaustion when he actually was at home (I wish I could claim that!), but the reality was that he was in a deadly cycle of hangovers and depression.

I never wanted to be a single mom

I feel that a father could and should play a very important role in their children’s lives. Sons need a role model to look up to and relate to on levels that I can’t fulfill. And daughters… my father will always be my first love. I always felt loved, cherished and special in his eyes. There’s no bond like it anywhere else in the world. He made me feel safe and instilled in me my sense of self-worth. But, my Megan seemed destined to never have that. Her father was barely available for her.

Even looking back I don’t think I could have saved our marriage

Our marriage was just enough of an enabling vehicle for Mark that he clearly couldn’t secure sobriety while in it. Our divorce, and the clear threat of losing what little relationship he had with Megan, was enough to force Mark into short periods of sobriety during visitation. It was clearly the best he was capable of and it did allow Megan to bond and have a loving relationship with her father… if only for a relatively short time.

Mark suffered from multiple alcohol-related medical problems during his last few years. Eventually his heart couldn’t take anymore and was found dead on his kitchen floor by his mother – a sight no mother should have to live with.

Picking up the pieces

Megan has taken this loss extremely hard. She has been in counseling now since her father’s passing. I wonder what affect this will have on her future relationships and her own family.

I don’t blame Mark, as I know he suffered from a disease that he certainly didn’t want, nor could control. It’s a disease that leaves a lot of victims in its wake and I pray for a day when we’re better equipped at dealing with alcoholism and its ramifications.

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