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In love and anger, peace and mercy

A few weeks ago I watched the video of Amy Winehouse's concert in Serbia. She didn't even know she was in Serbia. I can't really justify my gawker slowdown to watch, except that her behavior was so outrageous. But I was especially interested in the people around her: the working musicians who didn't know what to do except keep smiling and playing; the audience, outraged that they'd spent one-seventh of their monthly income for this.

I'm terribly sad that she's dead. And I can relate completely to both the musicians who watched her demise and the audience that felt cheated. There are addicts, and then there are addicts. If you've ever loved someone with a serious addiction, you know what I mean. I was married to a man who has been through various treatment programs many times. I think he's sober now, but that's probably my cautious optimism talking (and a good enabler is always cautiously optimistic). I don't mean to single him out. Most of us can name one or two people whose rock-bottom keeps slipping lower and lower, much to our astonishment and outrage.

I empathize with the people around Amy Winehouse. I read her management was upset that someone gave her access to booze when there were strict orders to keep the hotel substance-free while she was there. But when it comes to addiction, there is no managerial edict that can be effective. I've known addicts who give up everything: family, job, home, health. What are the rest of us supposed to do about it? In the final years of my first marriage, I imagined my husband had been devoured by a lion. If I dared open its jaws, I'd see my beautiful Mark, the funny and smart person I used to know, whole and unmarred in the belly of the beast. But having been clawed and bitten before, I didn't dare open the jaws. I couldn't withstand the insults, the rage. And also, I knew there was no point. The likelihood of taming the lion, of making Mark see the error of his ways, was nonexistent as far as I could tell.

In the years since Mark and I parted, I understand the outrage felt by Amy Winehouse's audience in Serbia. I've received a pittance in child support over the years. In addition, Mark's father sued me for visitation and cost me tens of thousands of dollars. I want my money back. But during our semi-annual appearances at child-support hearings, I look at what's left of the lion's last meal, and all I feel is a terrible sadness. Rest in peace, Amy (and Monica). Traveling mercies to Mark and all the others still fighting.
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