Everyone has many wishes they make, most wishes with little to no chance of being realized. Some wish for beauty or restored youth or wealth and leisure. Some wish to travel the world. Some even wish to go to Mars. Most of us wish for peace and for the word ‘war’ to disappear from headlines.
But I have a deep and abiding wish about the end of tobacco addiction. For it is indeed an addiction and a terrible one at that. I couldn’t possibly present all the statistics and information that is already out there about the effects of tobacco addiction. But I can describe the effects on our family. Oh, I won’t go into the grim description of what each beloved family member suffered. Everyone already knows about that. Those effects have been graphically depicted in photographs. But those photos are about ‘other’ people. Not ourselves. Not a loved one.
In our family, a beloved aunt was the first victim, taken by congestive heart failure after smoking all her life. Then there was a beloved father, who stopped smoking twenty-four years before his addiction took him. And a sister-in-law and brother-in-law, who each lived horrible existences before they passed. And a dear friend, who was the ultimate southern gentleman, funny and kind, and still sorely missed.
And now a very beloved brother, a good and kind and gentle man, very caring and giving. His heart was sound, so even though he tried desperately over the years to stop smoking, he figured he might be a lucky one and escape the side effects. But he didn’t.
Emotion prevents describing the terrible surgeries and the effects of those surgeries and of his disease. Because of that sound heart, his dying was long and painful and difficult, not just to him but to all who love him. And they are many.