Another hellacious day complete, eternity to go.
When I decided to pursue a degree in journalism, I was picturing interviewing the biggest bands who were featured on the cover of The Rolling Stone. My reality was working for a Southern-California living magazine, and instead of getting to do interviews and spend time with interesting clients I was spending my day practicing yoga breathing so I didn’t murder my boss. Assistant Executive Editor sounded like an important job. I spent more time running for coffee and chasing down proofs than I actually did writing or editing, though. Had it not paid me so well, I would have left a long time ago.
I had just gotten back to my beach-front condo, kicked off my shoes and gone into the kitchen to pour a large glass of red wine. It was springtime, so to say that we were busy was an understatement. My feet were killing me from running around all day long and I wanted nothing more than to sink down into a hot bubble bath with my glass of wine and try to forget it all. I grabbed my glass from the counter and turned to head back the hallway when my phone started ringing in my workbag that I had hung on the back of the kitchen chair. I contemplated ignoring it, but instead turned back to grab it in case it would actually be important. When I saw the name “Max” flash across the screen I groaned and silenced the phone. I hadn’t spoken to him in years, and I knew he wasn’t simply calling to see how I was doing.
A moment later I felt my phone vibrate, signaling that I had a new voice message. I rolled my eyes and tossed the phone onto the bed before going over to my dresser to pull out a clean camisole and shorts. I carried the clothes into the bathroom and tossed them on the counter, realizing I forgot a clean pair of underwear. As I went back into my room and pulled the drawer open, my phone started ringing again. I looked over and saw Max’s name flash across the screen again, and sighed, knowing that my plan of a relaxing evening was not going to happen. I picked the phone up and slid the green button across the screen, sitting on the edge of my bed as I placed the phone up to my ear.
“Hello?” I greeted with a sigh.
“Hey Lace,” Max’s deep voice answered. “I’m really sorry to bother you,” he added.
“What’s going on with Bryant?” I cut to the chase. “It can’t possibly be good.”
“It’s not,” he cleared his throat. “He’s in the ICU, Lacey. He’s been in bad shape since he got the papers from the lawyer. We’re on the road, and he’s been getting completely fucked up every single night. I didn’t realize how deep into the shit he really was. I fucking thought he was dead when I found him laying on the floor of the bus. He was positive for Coke, Oxy, X, and heroin. They have him sedated because he was having seizures when he started going through withdrawal.”
“That sounds like a really shitty problem, but it’s not my problem. He got the dissolution papers because he refused to sign the divorce papers. I tried to go the nice route. He did this to himself,” I seethed.
“I’m not disagreeing with you, but you haven’t been to court yet, so technically you’re still his wife. In the hospital’s eyes you’re still the next of kin and the only one that can make decisions. I gave the doctors your cell phone number. Don’t be surprised if they call,” he explained.
“God damnit, Max!” I clenched my eyes shut and fell back into a lying position on the bed as I rubbed my temples with my free hand. “Look, I know that this shouldn’t fall on you either. I’m sorry for that, but I left and filed for divorce because I didn’t want to deal with his bullshit anymore. I want nothing to do with him!” I nearly shouted. “Don’t you think I put up with enough over the years?”
“Lacey, I agree with you one-hundred percent. It’s not just the next of kin thing,” he admitted, pausing, and inhaling deeply. “Lace, if somebody can’t get through his thick fucking skull, I’m worried that one day he’s not going to wake up.”
“What makes you think I can convince him to change? He clearly didn’t give a fuck about what I wanted before,” I reasoned.
“I know shit got bad between you guys, but I think that when he realized he lost you forever he stopped caring about himself. I know that’s not your fault, but if you could please just try, just once, it might be his last chance,” he nearly begged.
“Jesus,” I mumbled, rubbing my hand over my face. “Where are you?” I asked, knowing that I was going to hate myself for doing this.
“We’re in New York City. If you book a flight into JFK, just let me know when you get in and I can send the roadie out to get you,” he offered.
“Don’t worry about it, I don’t want anything from you guys. I’ll try to get a flight out first thing in the morning,” I took a deep, shaky breath.
“Alright,” he agreed. “Lacey,” he paused. “Thank you.”
I didn’t even reply before hanging up the phone and dropping it next to me on the bed.
I bit the inside of my cheek to try not to focus on the emotions that the phone call had stirred up. I hadn’t seen or talked to Bryant in nearly a year. It had been almost three years since I packed my bags and left. When I finally finished school and had the money to hire a lawyer I filed for divorce. The papers had been sent four times, and each time they were sent back without a signature.
Bryant was the lead singer in what was quickly becoming an international heavy rock band, the Soul Reapers. We had met back when they were still playing bars and other underground shows, and we quickly became hot and heavy. We thought it would be fun to get married on a whim while we were in Vegas, but things turned sour as soon as they started to make money and gain more attention. Along with the money came the drugs, lies, and women. He swore he never cheated, but I’m pretty sure our definitions of cheating were completely different. Everything came crashing down around us the night he came home drunk and strung out, and the ensuing argument quickly became physical.
I doubted he ever told anyone the truth about why I left. They probably all thought that I just got sick of his shit. He had tried many times to get me to come back, but I knew I had to focus on my own health and safety. I had told him that I would consider it if he went to rehab and got counselling, but he refused so I refused to come back. He would try to get clean and sober without help, and it only ever lasted a few weeks at best. I had heard the stories of him putting his friend through a glass door, or fights that he would get into with strangers. At six feet, two inches and being built like an ox, he wasn’t the type of guy you wanted to get into it with during a drunken brawl.
Sure enough, my phone started ringing again, pulling me back to the present. I took the call despite my better judgement, and the doctor gave me the rundown of Bryant’s condition. After going through the hospital course thus far, he explained that they were going to try to back off of the sedation tomorrow and see how he did. Once I assured them that they could continue to contact me as they needed to and told them that I would try to be there tomorrow, they finally ended the call. I put my phone on vibrate and dropped it down on the bed again, praying that I didn’t get anymore calls. I definitely needed that large glass of wine I had poured earlier in the night.
After a long flight with two different layovers, I finally landed in New York City. The flight from LA was normally a long one, let alone when you couldn’t get a non-stop. I stopped to use the restroom on my way to the baggage claim and pulled up my Uber app once I pulled my suitcase from the carousel. I hadn’t packed more than a couple days’ worth of clothing, hoping that I would be heading back home sooner rather than later. I headed outside and found my ride, going to the hotel to check in and freshen up before heading to the hospital.
Once I got to the ICU unit, I took a deep breath before stepping off of the elevator. I wasn’t looking forward to this whole scenario, and my heart dropped into my stomach when I saw the rest of the band and a couple of women I’ve never met before gathered in the waiting room. The drummer Adam turned and started saying something to Max, who looked up and quickly stood. I knew I had to go over to the group now that I had been spotted. Two of the women looked at each other in confusion before looking back at me with disgust. I rolled my eyes as I approached them, and Max greeted me with a forced smile.
“Hey, Lacey. Good to see you,” he stated softly with a nod.
“Hey,” I nodded. “So, what’s going on? I know they said they were going to try to reverse the sedation, but I haven’t spoken to anyone since last night.”
“He’s been awake for an hour or so. He feels like hell and he’s not saying much. I didn’t tell him you were coming because I didn’t know how he would take it,” he shared.
“Who are you?” One of the girls asked rudely.
“Bryant’s ex-wife,” Jay, one of the guitarists mumbled. “The more important question is why are you here?”
“She’s here because I called her,” Max glared at him. He and Jay were tight, working closely on rhythm and lead guitars. I was surprised to see Max take a stand against him.
“Why?” Adam questioned.
“Because the asshole refuses to divorce me, and legally I’m the only one that can deal with his bullshit,” I spat. “Any more questions?” I asked, looking around at the group. “Tony?” I looked over at the bassist.
“Nope,” he shook his head with a smirk. He always had been the most laid back of everyone.
“Great!” I faked a grin. “Congrats, guys. I’ve heard you’re doing pretty well in life. I’m happy for you,” I stated half truthfully. “Except for Jay, he’s kind of a dick.”
“Don’t be a bitch, Lacey,” Jay shot back. “You haven’t showed your face in years. Funny you come around now that we’re making money.”
“Fuck you, Jay!” I growled lowly. “I’ve done more for all of you then any one of you deserve. I’ve never asked for anything, and I’m only here because I have no other choice. If you’d like me to leave, I will. None of you better call me again when he’s laid up in a hospital bed.”
“Lacey, back off,” Max stated, putting his hand on my shoulder to try to calm me down. “Jay, step the fuck down,” he glared. “You all know that we’re grasping at straws with Bryant. I asked Lacey to come out because I’ve officially run out of ideas. I’m hoping that this is rock bottom, and between almost killing himself and Lacey coming to see him, he’ll decide to get the help he needs.”
One of the girls rolled her eyes.
“Roll your eyes at me again, bitch. I really would love to hit someone right now,” I spat.
“Lacey!” Max raised his voice slightly, causing me to look up at him in anger. “Let’s go in,” he nodded towards the doors to the unit.
Despite his best efforts to keep me from noticing, I saw him turn back to the girls and mouth to them to shut up.
We stopped just outside the glass doors to Bryant’s room, and I felt my chest tighten with anxiety. His eyes were closed, and even though he was covered in a tough, tattooed skin I could tell he wasn’t well. Max gave my shoulder a gentle squeeze as we looked at each other. I could tell by the look in his eyes that he was scared of what would happen to his friend if we couldn’t get him to pull his head out of his ass. I started towards the door and Max fell in step next to me.
“Can you please just give me some time with him, alone?” I whispered to Max.
“Sure, just let me know if you need anything,” he nodded.
I swallowed the lump in my throat and forced myself to step inside. I lightly dropped my purse into the chair that was sitting next to the bed, tightening my sweater around me as I crossed my arms over my chest and looked down at Bryant. He looked like shit. He was all washed out, he had lost weight and muscle mass since I had seen him last, and the man that was lying in front of me was only a shadow of the man I used to know. I took a deep breath as I stepped closer to the side of the bed, causing him to stir and open his eyes. They widened in disbelief when he saw me, and he blinked a few times before looking at me again.
“Lace?” He croaked out, his face wrinkled in confusion.
“You’re not hallucinating, unfortunately,” I replied with a sigh.
“What….” He trailed off, adjusting the bed to sit up a bit as he rubbed his hands over his face. “What are you doing here?”
“Max called me. They’re really worried about you. The doctors said you could have died if he hadn’t found you when he did,” I shook my head in annoyance. “What the fuck is going through your mind, Bryant? You finally have everything you ever wanted in life. Your career took off, you have the means to live more than comfortably, you have it all,” I tried to reason.
“There is one thing that I don’t have,” he looked up at me as though it should be obvious.
“No. Forget it. We’ve been down this road before, and I’d only be hurting myself even more,” I spat. “We were young and stupid, and we got in way above our heads.”
“That’s not true, and you know it,” he glared at me. “We were together for years, and we had talked about getting married many times before we finally did it in Vegas. Don’t pretend like the relationship wasn’t legit.”
“Whatever,” I rolled my eyes. “Look, I’m not here to argue with you. I’m only here because Max doesn’t know what to do anymore, and he’s worried you’re trying to off yourself,” I put it bluntly. “How about we just have the exact same conversation we always do, where you refuse any help and claim that you can clean your shit up. The sooner you remind me how much of a stubborn ass you are, the sooner I can be on my way,” I shook my head in annoyance.
“God damn it, Lacey,” he spat through clenched teeth. “I wasn’t expecting you to show up. Sit the fuck down and give me a minute to wrap my head around this shit,” he nearly growled.
I took another deep breath and sat down in the chair next to him. He stared up at the ceiling for a minute or two before finally looking over at me.
“These past few months have been really bad. I felt myself falling down the rabbit hole, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to pull myself back out,” he admitted. He was much calmer as he spoke than he had been a few minutes ago. “Once I got those last papers from the lawyer telling me I had to be in court for a dissolution of marriage, I went into a really dark place.”
“Don’t you dare try to put this on me!” I seethed.
“Lacey,” he groaned, reaching over, and taking my hand in his. I looked down at our hands together, and the shockwaves ran through me as memories good and bad started to flood back. “I’m not putting this on you, or anyone else,” he spoke softly, pulling my gaze back up to his. “I fucked up. I’ve been fucking up for years now. I know I did this to myself, but if I can’t have a chance to get you back, I don’t care about what happens to me. I know I should. I know that my band and the fans are depending on me, but without you none of it matters anymore.”
“Bry,” I shook my head as I fought the tears from welling up in my eyes. “We’ve been down this road before. I can’t come back to this insanity,” I told him as a tear slipped from my eye. “I can’t ride the roller coaster of you being in this deep but refusing to get any help. Nothing between us will ever get better when you can’t even admit to yourself that you can’t fix this on your own,” I looked into his pain-filled eyes. “I can’t come back to the lies, the drugs, the excuses,” I shook my head as I reached up to wipe my tears.
“Maybe I finally realize that you’re right,” he squeezed my hand. “I literally have the world at my fingertips, and none of it matters when I’m so fucked up, I can’t even see straight,” he confessed, his own eyes filling with unshed tears. “I’ve completely alienated my family, my friends can’t stand me, and I’ve lost the only person I’ve ever truly loved,” he squeezed my hand again. “Before I OD’d, I had been looking at rehabs online. There’s a place in Malibu that seems pretty legit. I want to clean up, Lace. I can’t force myself to do it though if there’s nothing waiting for me on the other side of all this.”
“Bryant,” I sighed, placing my other hand on top of his. “You have so many people that love you, and they are rooting for you to get better. You have everything waiting on the other side of it,” I tried to reason.
“Are you going to be on the other side?” His voice cracked as his unshed tears started to fall. I looked away, clenching my eyes shut as I took in what he was saying. “I know that I’ve broken what we had, but unless I know that I at least have a chance of starting over with you, I have nothing.”
“How do I know you’re telling the truth this time?” I whispered.
“Because I know that this is my last chance to have a second chance with you,” he stated, reaching up with his other hand and tucking my hair out of my face.
“Bry,” I shook my head from side to side, then looked down at our hands that were still joined together.
“Lacey,” he tilted my chin up with his finger so that my eyes met his again. “I know I’m asking a lot of you, but if I’m going to get through this, I need you on my side. I’ve basically burned all my bridges, and I need to know that I can hold onto the chance of having you back in my life again.”
I took a deep, shaky breath as he reached up and wiped the tears from my face again. I could tell by the look in his eyes that he was being sincere. Once upon a time, we had been happy together. I knew that we had both grown and changed in many ways, but if there was a chance to have him, the real him, back again, I knew I had to take it.
“Alright,” I gave him a small nod. “This is it though, Bryant. If you fuck this up again, I’m done.”
“If I fuck this up again, I’ll sign the divorce papers, so we don’t have to go to court,” he offered. “Come here,” he gestured to a spot on the bed next to him.
As much as my brain wanted to fight him, his pull was irresistible. He moved over a bit to allow me to have more room, gently pulling on my hand until I moved over to sit on the bed with him. He wrapped an arm around me, pulling me into a strong embrace. I tried desperately not to break down, but as soon as he nuzzled against my hair and let out a small sob, I lost any resolve that remained. I tightened my arms around him as he held me like he was afraid I was going to slip away.
“I’m so sorry,” he whispered against my ear. “I’m sorry for destroying us with my addictions, and I’m sorry I ever put my hands on you the way I did. I promise I’ll never hurt you like that again,” he added with another small sob.
I stayed frozen in his embrace as he brought up the past. I wanted to believe him that he was going to get clean, and we would be able to work towards a healthy relationship again. I knew logically that I should hate him with my entire being, but deep-down part of me still loved him. When it was bad, it was really bad, but when it was good, it was incredible. Bryant had a passion for everything and everyone he loved, he just needed to find it all again.
One of the doctors cleared his throat from the doorway, letting us know that he was coming in. Bryant pressed a gentle kiss to my forehead before I moved back to the chair, allowing him to take my hand once more. After examining him the doctor talked about moving him out of the ICU and hopefully discharging him within the next couple of days. Before he left the room, Bryan shocked both of us by asking if there was anyone that could help him get accepted to the rehab he had looked at before. The doctor assured him he would send a social worker in to help him get placed, encouraging him by talking about how he was doing the right thing.
Three days later, I found myself sitting next to Bryant on a flight back to LA from New York. The social worker at the hospital had gotten him a bed at the rehab he had found online, and I had promised to fly back with him and get him right to the rehab from the airport. He had been quiet throughout most of the flight, listening to his iPod while sipping at a bottle of water. He was still feeling the effects of the withdrawal, but the worst seemed to be over.
I had thankfully parked my car at the airport in LA, so we didn’t have to worry about getting a car from anywhere to get us to Malibu. We pulled into the parking lot and I could tell he was nervous. Once we climbed out of the car, he took my hand in his as we started towards the entrance. His hand was clammy, whether it was from the withdrawal or nerves, I wasn’t sure. He inhaled sharply as we headed to the reception desk and I provided them with his name and birthdate.
We were immediately taken back to a comfortable area where we were met with a counselor and a physician. They explained the treatment process and that he would be in the facility for a minimum of four weeks, but possibly longer. They talked about how much time he would have on the phone each day, that he would have a limited list of people he was allowed to contact, and the procedure if he would tell the staff he wanted to check himself out early. He was required to give twenty-four hours advance notification if he wanted to sign out against medical advice, and they would provide him with counseling, encourage him to reach out to his support system, and make sure he understood the risks of signing himself out early.
Bryant’s hand was visibly shaking as he signed all of the paperwork consenting to get treatment. They explained that he would be staying in a temporary unit where he would have close medical supervision for the first week to make sure that he didn’t have any severe late withdrawal symptoms. Once he was medically cleared, he would move into the resident area which consisted of a private room overlooking the ocean. He would have access to the gym, the cafeteria, and he would have a set schedule for counseling and treatments. There was one family visitation day each week, and they strongly encouraged visits.
Once the counselor and physician had finished explaining the program, they stepped out for a moment to let us say goodbye. Bryant and I both stood, embracing each other tightly. I was still extremely concerned that he wouldn’t follow through, but I promised to have his back through the process as long as he stuck through it. I felt the dampness of his tears as they started to slip from his eyes, and I tightened my hold him.
“You can do this, Bryant. I know you are strong enough to win this fight,” I tried to convince him, and he nodded in agreement. “I’ll be here for the first visiting day, and I’ll always answer when you call. I promise,” I added.
“Thank you,” he mumbled softly. “I won’t let you down this time. I want a chance to get to know you again. I need you in my life.”
“I know,” I nodded, resting my head on his shoulder. “Focus on getting healthy again, and then we will worry about us. I’m not going anywhere in the meantime.”
Bryant gently pressed his lips to my forehead before resting his chin on the top of my head, tightening his arms around me one last time. His embrace still felt strange, but in a way it also felt familiar. It reminded me of a time when things were simpler, before the money and fame that came along with success in his career.
The counselor peeked through the door, and we released each other as Bryant turned and headed towards him. He forced a weak smile, giving me a small nod before following the counselor and disappearing into the facility. My head was reeling from everything that had happened over the last few days, and the fact that I had chosen to give him another chance terrified me. As I made my way back outside to the car, I said a silent prayer that he would have the strength he needed, and that I could be what he needed from me without sacrificing my own sanity.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read Lacey and Bryant's story! Please let me know what you think! I plan to update 1-2x/week.