December 13th, University Of Michigan – University Hospital, Cardiology (4 months after Cardiomyopathy diagnoses)
“Do you have any questions” – Doc
“Well I guess I don’t have a question but my friends do, they wanna know when I can drink again” – Me
“Well you cannot binge drink at all, absolutely not” – Doc
“Well what’s “binge drinking”” – Me
“You can have a drink every once in a while, but if you have two I’d start to worry.” – Doc
“So I can have one drink every once in a while?” -Me
On August 4th, at aprox. 11PM, I took my last sip of alcohol. Below is my retirement letter to drinking.
It’s been a great ride. My drinking career is a time I look back on with great memories and lessons learned. I’ve had some crazy nights that I don’t remember and some drunken memories that I always will. I’ve had moments that come up in conversation or in my deep thoughts that will make me cringe. You’ve been a confidant, a friend, and at times an enemy. Through all the bad and the good, you’ve been there. Whether it was heartache over a girl or lost loved one, you were there. Championship games that my team was or was not (overwhelming majority) playing in, you there. You were there in high school driving around our little town looking for SOMETHING to do. You were there when I threw a party that to this day people bring up in conversation. You were there every New Years Eve, (the anniversary of the time I first got “drunk”), you were there – besides this last one.
You weren’t there when I went to some of the best concerts of my life, or my dad’s 70th birthday. You weren’t there when I turned 23, or when I went on a ski trip with a bunch of old friends. I’ve had a blast these past 5 almost 6 months of retirement. I do miss you though. I’ll always remember the great times we had together. But, our time together was cut short. The days of benders are behind me now. I can look back knowing I left everything on the table. The amount of screw-ups, highlights and everything in between is enough to write a book on. Maybe one day the book will be worth reading.
I know eventually we may cross paths again – I don’t know when it will be, but I know it will happen. Maybe it will be an Old Fashioned at a wedding, an Island Girl at a Kenny Chesney concert, or a glass of Vino on a boat, but it won’t be the same. I won’t be a young kid drinking as much as I can to catch a buzz or get fucked up, again. Honestly, I don’t know if this cardiomyopathy is a blessing in disguise. I know it’s a good thing that I’m retiring, the game was hard on my body and my mind.
It’s been a great run, it’s had it’s ups its downs, its twists and turns and I’ve had a ball. Some people might say, you’re ending your career pretty early. To that I’d say, I’d rather leave the game when I can – then wait to leave the game when I HAVE to. Though some could say (and I couldn’t really argue) that I did in fact wait until I had to retire to retire. Not the point.
A lot of self reflection has lead me here. I’m officially hanging it up. I won’t say that I won’t ever have a drink again. As a 23 year old, I think it would be silly of me to say I won’t have another drink. I just won’t be getting drunk anymore. I’ll have one every once in a while like the doctor said I can. It’s like when a retired ball player plays a charity game or plays with their kids in the yard, its not the same, it’s retirement.
To all of the friends reading this, don’t be sorry I can’t drink, it’s a choice. Don’t feel bad for me for choosing not to drink. I know a lot of people would say, fuck what a doctor said and ignore their advice. I’m not one of those people, I didn’t spend the time and money to go to a doctor to ignore their advice. The game has been fun but not worth risking my life or my health. I LOVED the game but I know it’s not for me anymore. I’ll go to bars with my friends and watch from the sidelines and enjoy the time spent with people I choose to spend time with.
I’ll end my letter with a word of gratitude. Thank you for all the memories and blurred ones and lessons learned and just everything. I leave you with some lyrics from one of my favorite songs ‘When I See This Bar’ – “I see a kid, coming into his own. And a man, learning to move on.”