Guinevere Gets Sober

Recovery news, reviews and stories, by Jennifer Matesa.

Days, One Day At A Time

“This limbo is killing me,” my husband said this morning at 4:50.

None of us are sleeping well. … My father-in-law was experiencing labored breathing yesterday, what they call Cheyne-Stokes respiration, and my sister-in-law the nurse told my husband yesterday afternoon that she expected him to die in the night. He has had Lewy body dementia for years. … My brother-in-law and his eldest daughter are up from the South to stay with my mother-in-law until he leaves this world. My brother-in-law told my husband this morning that his breathing had calmed down. You just can’t know.


The call just came in. He has gone.


He taught me a lot. Gave me a lot. He and his wife. For which I’m grateful.


My husband asked me last night if I would sing a song with him at the service. “Days” by the Kinks. In it, there is a line that goes, “But I’m not frightened of this world, believe me.”

“I grew up not frightened of the world,” he said.

“You’re fortunate,” I said.

I practiced the harmony this morning.


Want to stay sober through all this. Not just clean but sober. Remember C’s words: The best thing you can do for this family is to stay sober. If you use, you will abandon yourself, and you will be unable to be present for them, which is a great service in and of itself.

I owe them that much.


“Grandpa dying makes me miss Greenie,” my son said two nights ago. “Greenie” was our name for my father, who died very quickly and fearsomely in 2007 of the consequences of his alcoholism.

“I miss Greenie, too,” I said. “When Greenie died, it made me miss Mommo” (Mommo was my son’s nickname for my mother before she died—he was just 18 months old) “and now that Grandpa John is leaving us, it makes me grieve Greenie all over again.”

My son cried a little bit. He’s 13 but he still cries occasionally, he still sits close to me and hugs my arm sometimes, he says he loves me. He also tells me to shut up at choice moments (which I don’t allow him to get away with), and mouths off to me on a daily basis.

We will leave for the UK in a few days.

“I’m afraid to go,” he said. “I’ve never seen Granny cry, or Daddy’s sisters, or even Daddy very much.” He thought for a moment. “But I’ve seen you cry, and your sister.”

I laughed. “Well, think of it this way,” I said. “Maybe your dad’s family doesn’t have as much to cry about. And also, maybe they just handle stress a little differently.”

“Yeah, that might be true,” he said.

“You can help Granny,” I said. “I can help you. Then we can both help your dad. That’s the way families work…”

Been working on a sketchbook. Portraits of my family, and people who have helped me in my recovery. He asked to see it.

Guinevere's father

He also cried at this.

Guinevere's grandfather

“I LOVE THAT BOOK,” he said, standing in the kitchen, tears running down his face. “What if we could make that stuff stop with me and turn things around, Mama? Wouldn’t it be great?”

See you soon.


  1. I am so sorry for your loss G. I am thinking of you and sending you love and support from the Swiss moutains. Nora x

  2. guinevere

    January 20, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Thank you, dear Nora…

  3. My thoughts are with you as you go through this difficult time. I wish you well as you negotiate the time with real presence. My husband’s closest uncle died in September and I honestly felt it was a personal blessing to be able to really be there heart and soul instead of checking out and thinking I was there for them.

  4. guinevere

    January 20, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Tara, it’s a gift that you could be sober at that time. Wow. I’m very glad for you. –G

  5. I am sorry for your loss G. I hope your trip goes as well as can be. If at all possible- make sure to take a few moments to yourself so you can keep exercising. It helps.

  6. guinevere

    January 20, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Drew, thanks for being here.

  7. G….I’m so sorry for your loss. It has certainly been true for me that, with each loss, I mourn all the other losses over again. But, it can be very healing. Each time we mourn, we let go a little more and remember the person and love them even more. Part of those ancestors is in each of us. Just look at the palm of your hand – you can see all the hands before you. Travel safely and let us hear from you. Holding you in my heart,

  8. G – thinking of you and your family during this time of loss. Thanks for showing us the way. Peggy

  9. I’m so sorry. Hugs and prayers to you and your family – I am keeping you close to my heart today.

  10. guinevere

    January 24, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Donna, Peggy and Sherri… thanks so much for your kindness.

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