With guidance from trusted content editor, Brooke Warner, Rosemary has finished the second draft of her grief and addiction memoir: ROSE (working title).
Rosemary had it all; a loving husband, two young daughters and an interesting career in the media. Then one year, that all changed. Her brother got AIDS and her husband got terminal cancer. Rosemary was able to keep it somewhat together for a few years after they died but then one night that changed too. It was the night she and Mr. Wrong tripped out on cocaine. This triggered a six year drinking and drugging downwards spiral for Rosemary. Although she was still high-functioning and able to maintain her career, she was malfunctioning inside and putting her children in peril. She booked herself into rehab and started trying to patch her life back together. This is a raw story of her journey through tragedy and self-destruction to her final destination . . . survival.
Preview: First Chapter
ROSE (working title)
Just Like a Pill, Pink
Friday, April 19, 2002
In my bed on a Friday afternoon. I can’t seem to sleep off this cocaine. Why did I do that? I gulp some more Bâtard-Montrachet from the lovely large goblet. Study the familiar green bottle—still half full—that’ll do. I sneak out to the porch off the bedroom and scan for anybody who might notice me and my wired state. No neighbors? No gardeners? A Camel Light offers no relief. More fine wine. A shower will work—help me sober up and wash off the stink of the smoke at the same time. A check in the mirror reflects paranoia. My God, I’m shaking, my stomach and heart are knotted together pounding, pounding . . . maybe I’m having a heart attack. I need sleep. It’s only 1:30. I have a couple of hours. One of those little blue pills will do the trick.
Two-thirty . . . passed out.
Three o’clock . . . still passed out.
Three-thirty . . . I raise my weighted eyelids and try to focus on the clock radio. I am suddenly wrenched out of my anaesthetized state as if stabbed with a shot of adrenaline . . . Oh my God! Fuck! I am a half hour late! Jump up. Check the mirror. Brush teeth. Grab purse. My four daily newspapers. Never know when you might have idle time. Jump into Mazda RZ7. Convertible hood is down. Shit! I’ll be so obvious with my wild hair flying everywhere. No time to close it. Ram car into reverse. Get out of the garage. Hope for no rain. Check mirror. Paranoia. First gear. Move forward fast. Concentrate. Very, very hard. Second gear. Third. Fourth. Highway. Concentrate. Concentrate.
Pull up to the curb by the grassy area in front of school. Still a number of kids in blue plaid uniforms . . . running, screaming, chattering, doing what young teen girls do. My thirteen-year-old, Dixie, spots me. Separates from her pals. Rushes over . . . face scrunched in confusion:
“Where were you?” She opens the door.
Newspapers spill out onto the ground . . .
“Ah ha ha ha ha . . .” a crazed laugh.
“Mom! Did you take an Ativan?”
“Of course not, dear.”
Dixie hazards a glance at her friends.
“Let’s just go, Mom.”
Earlier this week Dixie asked me to take her to Surrey on Friday for a sleepover at her cousin’s. The dreaded drive to Surrey could be an hour-and-a-half in rush hour traffic. I never feel safe in Surrey. There is so much gang violence there.
“Mom! Get going. Let’s just go.”
On the Upper Levels Highway, there is something wrong with Dixie.
“Mom, take me home. Pleeeease, just take me home.”
I look at her. At the cars in front of us. At the cars behind us. Cars beside us. At her again. Are people honking? Her eyes tearing—she is yelling something at me. “Turn around. Don’t take the highway.” I pull over to the side of the highway. Dixie is screaming. Maybe I should go home. I start driving, most gingerly, to the next exit and turn around.
We make it home and I go immediately to my room, collapse on my bed and pass out. A half hour later Dixie’s fifteen-year-old sister, Willow, arrives home from a friend’s and charges into my room.
“Mom, aren’t you taking me to the youth group NOW?”
She shakes me out of my unconsciousness. I desperately try to register.
“Mom! I’m gonna be late. Are you taking me?”
“Mom. My youth group in Coquitlam. You promised! I’m meeting Jessica there.”
“Of course, dear. I’ll meet you in the car.” Oh yes, fucking Coquitlam, as difficult as Surrey to drive to.
I drag myself into the bathroom, check the mirror. . . see a terrified, maybe even insane person staring back at me. I hear Willow yelling to me and manage to maneuver my ravaged body down the stairs and out to the garage. Willow is just getting in the car when I get there. She is putting the family dog, fluffy little Angel, on her lap.
I choose Marine Drive, the Lions Gate Bridge and Barnet Highway route—far less intimidating than the Upper Levels.
We go over the bridge and get to East Hastings which leads to the Barnet Highway but I don’t recognize the area which I should. Willow is screaming at me and telling me I’m not going the right away. “We’re lost. We’re lost.”
“We’re not lost,” I protest. I don’t want her to think I don’t know where we are but I don’t.
“Stop the car, Mom. Stop the car,” Willow’s yelling at me.
“Don’t you remember how to get to the youth group, Mom?” she squeals as I pull over and grab the map.
I had taken an incorrect turn and we were going the wrong direction and I just want to be back in bed but I have to get Willow to group. I suggest she read the map and tell me what turns to make. Willow’s now angry because I’m driving so slowly we could be pulled over. Shit, I need to go to bed. Finally, I see the youth group building but it has two entrances.
“This one, Mom. Don’t you remember?”
Her friends come out to meet her. I paint a smile on my face as they look at us in the RX7 with the top down and Angel panting away, excited to see everyone.
“Nice car,” her buddy says.
“Ya, it was my Dad’s.”
“When shall I pick you up, Willow?” I ask, anxious to get home and back to bed.
“I’ll call you later. I can’t take Angel inside. But remember to bring her back when you pick me up.”
As I am driving home I notice Burrard Inlet and the mountains are on my left.
If the mountains are on my left I must be going east. But we live west of Coquitlam so I must be going the wrong way. Street signs? Cross Road? Where the fuck am I? I need to check the map. I’ll pull into a gas station parking lot and Angel immediately jumps out of the car. Holy shit! I left her window down. She is bolting behind the building. Oh my fucking God. I am going to lose Angel.
“Angel. Angel. ANGEL!” I scramble out of the car and chase after her. As she runs behind the back of the station, some twenty yards away, I am terrified I will never see her again. As I round the corner I see her about to go around the next corner. Oh, there’s a person coming this direction. A woman. A middle-aged woman with flowing clothes.
“Grab that dog. PLEASE! She’s the family dog. If I lose her my kids’ll die!” I yell to her.
As Angel is about to run by her, the middle-aged woman with the flowing clothes puts her cloth bag down as if in slow motion, reaches out with both hands, grabs Angel and picks her up. I cannot see the woman’s face as the entire scene is silhouetted by the evening sun behind them.
“Oh my God. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” I run up to the woman squinting and take Angel.
“You’re most welcome. He’s a cute little thing isn’t he”? What kind is it?”
“She’s a Shitzu Chin,” I say, short of breath. “She likes to take off. I almost had a heart attack. Thank you sooooooo much.” The sun shines directly in my eyes like a third degree light bulb used in dramatic, movie torture interrogations. I am able to position myself so my face is in her shadow. Still, she can see me better than I can see her. I pray she does not detect how out of it I must be. She could report me to the police.
Back in the car I leash Angel to the seat belt and ensure the window is up all the way, the child lock in ON. I am able to get my bearings from the roadmap and go in the correct direction with one mind: bed.
When I walk in the door of the house Melba is there. Thank God for Melba, our intelligent, grounded, and patient, and invaluable Filipino nanny. Oh, and loyal too. She was willing to work anytime. My most recent job entailed screwy hours. I worked for a radio station hosting “The Rosemary Keevil Show” (original, I know). When I first started, the show aired live at 5:00 in the morning. Then it shifted to 9:00 at night until midnight. Somehow I managed not to drink or use before going on air but that meant when I got home after midnight I had a lot of drinking to catch up to do.
“What’s happening, Rosemary?” Melba asks in her strong Filipino accent. “I thought you were taking Dixie to Surrey. I took her. Is everything alright?”
“Melba, I don’t feel well. I am going to lie down. When Willow calls, will you please pick her up? Oh, and take Angel with you, please. Don’t forget. Thank you. What would I do without you, Melba?”