I would like to take a moment to thank you all during this Thanksgiving. It humbles me to have the privilege of serving you and all in our communities. I’d like to also thank our amazing staff for their undeniable passion to help others.
This will be the first Thanksgiving my family will not be spending time with each other and it saddens me greatly. On April 15th of this year I lost my brother to addiction and consequent death and my mom wants to be alone, understandably to grieve. But make no mistake; we will still be together in our thoughts.
During this time most of you will be blessed to have time to spend with your loved ones. Cherish these moments for they are the fragile moments we may never have again. I’ve attached the eulogy I wrote for my brother and wanted to share it with you, not to make you sad but to remind you of how precious family really is. It is called Addiction, Forgiveness and Love.
My family and I will miss him very much during these holidays and I know somewhere he is free from suffering and knows how much we love him.
Addiction, Forgiveness and Love
Prior to his last hospital visit Alan had suffered an earlier episode back in November in which he ended up in the ICU at the Elliot. It was on a Thursday when I got the proverbial phone call from my mother; “Rock, I know your going to be mad but Al’s in the ICU. My brother Tom had found him passed out on his kitchen floor and dialed 911.”
Well she was right; I was mad, madder than hell. For most of you who know Alan you can understand this. He always had a unique way of using me to get him out of trouble. But I told myself, this time, yes this time, I was going to stick to my guns. I’d bailed him out of trouble so many times in the past, and today was going to be different.
But around 3pm I was driving on the east side of town and my love for him got the best of me, and I caved. Next thing you know I’m parking my car in the Elliot lot and hustling my way up to the ICU. As I approached his room I was saddened by what I saw. All the wires and tubes connected to him looked like a scene from a Frankenstein movie. I thought, oh no, he’s not going to make it this time.
My mind began to race as the idea of losing my brother dominated my brain. After a few minutes of staring at the horrific site, I shook him to see if he would wake, and he did. As he gained consciousness and saw that it was me, he sat up, body shaking and said, “Rock, you helped Tom now you gotta help me. (My brother Tom has also been struggling with his own health issues)” I replied, Al, I’ve tried, you just don’t listen. He said, “No, this time I’ll listen, really I’ll listen.”
So I said, “ok, just let me know what you need and I’ll help you.”
As I walked away I gave my cell phone number to his nurse and asked her to call me if there were any changes in his condition.
The next morning around 8 o’clock I called the ICU and his nurse told me he was lying still in his bed. About an hour later his nurse called me back and told me Al had disconnected all his tubes and wires and left the hospital against medical advice. Confused by what I had seen the day before, I thought how is he even walking?
At around 10am my phone rang and I see “Alan Boulay” come up on the screen. I quickly picked it up and asked, “Where are you?” He replied, “I have a painting job that has to be finished and I promised the people it would be done today, so here I am. He continued, “Are you going to be around tonight, and if so, can I swing by the house to see you?” Still in shock that he was out of the hospital I said, sure, come on over. If any of you have had any experience with Al you’d know if he showed up for any event at all it was nothing short of a miracle.
As 7pm approached there he was, struggling to climb the stairs to my front door. We both sat down on the sofa and he began to speak, he said; “you know when you came into my room at the hospital yesterday I was actually experiencing that bright light that everyone talks about just before they die. I heard a voice saying it’s time to go and I was crying please give me another chance, please, please.
The next thing I know, there you are looking at me. He went on, now I’ve been thinking a lot today and you know what? I realize that I’ve done a lot of bad things in my life and I’ve hurt a lot of people. And believe me, I don’t feel very good about myself. In fact, I’m quite ashamed.”
He looked me in the eyes and said; Rock, I don’t want to die being remembered for all the bad things I’ve done. I want to be remembered for doing something good.”
During the following days and weeks he would call me and tell me about what he had learned from a book I had given him to help him change his life. The book was The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. This book has helped me understand how to live my life better and Alan was beginning to adopt some of the books teachings.
I’m not here to make excuses for anyone’s bad behavior especially Alan’s, but, I want you all to understand, our family, just like many of your families struggle with loved ones who suffer or have suffered with alcohol, drug and other painful addictions, addictions that test the very core of our faith and beliefs.
My father and brother both struggled with addictions, it was very hard on my family, physically and emotionally. But out of love for each other we did whatever it took to support them, and to help them hopefully find their way. Right until the very last moments of their lives we were there, hoping, praying and wishing for them to find the strength to break their destructive dependence and find happiness.
It’s hard to understand addiction unless you’ve experienced it. Nobody ever asks to be addicted to anything, yet many people suffer and face these same uncontrollable compulsions every day. Addiction is one of the slowest forms of death and no one is immune, either you have an addiction or someone you love is addicted. Either way we suffer. That’s just a sad truth.
But in these moments we share here right now, it’s not the hurt, the anger, the fear or the sadness, that is significant. It’s about forgiveness. It’s forgiveness that gives us strength and helps us to move on. Gandhi once said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” I hope those words will help us all become a little stronger.
Lastly, I’d like to talk about the most important thing in all of our lives, love. Without love, nothing else really matters, nothing.
I have certainly witnessed the greatest outpouring of love over the last few days more than ever before in my life.
My mom who I love dearly, and who is the strongest person I have ever known, held Alan right to his very last breath, and even then it was almost impossible for her to let him go. It is she is who gives me my strength. Her definition of love could only be found in a dictionary in heaven.
My sister and her sons, Al’s son Colby and mom’s sisters were also there with us to the very last moment showing their love and support, it was an extremely sad but moving experience, one I will never forget.
Friends and family reached out to us from all over and shared in our pain and sorrow and offered their thoughts and prayers. Many came to the hospital in droves to support us.
Our dear friend’s, and Alan’s neighbors, Jeff and Maryann Bennett also came to his side. Jeff Bennett is the person who actually found Alan unconscious and performed CPR on him until the paramedics arrived. This we appreciate so very much.
Even the doctors and nurses in the ICU who are taught NOT to get personally involved with their patients couldn’t help themselves and showed us so much love and compassion. I don’t know all of them but I do love them for what they did to help us through this.
It was a truly incredible display of love everyone showed for Alan; and it is this amazing emotion that brings people together no matter how difficult the circumstances.
I believe that love is the most important thing in all of our lives, it is the magic that keeps us together, and if we can make it a practice to love each other UNCONDITIONALLY, then it is also my belief that when it comes time for us to pass,
WE CAN ALL BE REMEMBERED FOR DOING SOMETHING GOOD!
REST IN PEACE MY BROTHER.
Integrity Health is a franchise company residing in New Hampshire. We specialize in health coaching centers combining fitness with weight loss to optimize and promote optimal health. We are also the national purveyors of the EZCOACH Fitness Prescription System licensed by fitness professionals.