White Christmas

John had the brightest eyes, the nicest smile and the warmest hug. Everybody liked him. A great asset when working with PR and marketing.

One morning he didn't turn up for work. This was not the first time, although it didn't happen that often any longer. This was why John's business partner Michael didn't worry that much.

All that changed when John's mother called. She hadn't heard from John all weekend. They were close and he had promised to take her out. Could Michael perhaps go to his apartment to check if everything was all right?

Michael went there but nobody answered the door. He tried to look into the windows but couldn't see anything. He went to John's mother to collect the spare key. She wanted to go with him, but something made Michael persuade her to stay. He promised to call as soon as possible.

He knocked again before entering John's apartment. The first traces of blood were on the floor in the hallway. He put his fist in his mouth and took a few steps forward. More blood. Blood everywhere. Finally he found John on the floor in the kitchen. No doubt he was dead.

Michael backed out of the apartment and closed the door. He dialled 112 and asked for the police. He stood on the porch in the cold until they came. Continued to stand there while they investigated what had happened. Stood there when they took away John's body.

He answered the questions they had and could confirm their theory. John had not been the victim of a crime and had not committed suicide, but had died of "natural" causes. They went away and he was alone again with the key in his hand.

Three hours had passed since he left John's mother. He could see that she had tried to reach him on his mobile. Tears started welling up, running along his nose, dripping down into the snow, into the footprints of the ambulance crew.

Michael went into the apartment and started to scrub away all the blood and stow away the bottles. He just couldn't let John's mother see the signs of the many hours of struggle he probably went through before finally passing out and dying. Having a massive bleeding in an ulcer and too drunk to call for help. An ulcer he had developed through drinking. That kind of social drinking that often comes with having the task of making sure that important clients have a good time. That often continues even when no VIP is around.

I miss John. I'm really sorry that I didn't see his drinking problem. We are very good at covering up for our friends and colleagues, pretending not to know. And there are so many people to see, to help.
It is for the sake of all children being abused by drunk parents, for all those killed in road accidents by drunk drivers, for all those who get hooked on other drugs after a couple of drinks, for all who die from cancer provoked by the abuse of alcohol. For the sake of Michael who had to scrub away the blood from his best friend. For the sake of John's mother, now facing many lonely years. For the sake of John who never wanted to become an alcoholic and die on the floor, with his life slowly trickling away.

That's why I do my best to restrict access to alcohol. That's why I support IOGT-NTO's campaign Vit jul (White Christmas), hoping that it will help more children have a holiday to remember, for the right reasons.

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