I’m participating in Dry July.
Are you surprised? I sure am.
Dry July is a fancy, nicely rhyming campaign where you pledge not to drink alcohol for the month of July.
Why on earth would you give up alcohol for an entire month you ask in shock & horror?! Well, it is all for a good cause.
Your friends & family donate money to reward your efforts and the money then is given to a charity to help support adults living with cancer.
I say ‘living with cancer’ a little bit tongue-in-cheek because you don’t really live with cancer do you? If you are lucky – your cancer goes into remission. But for many cancer is still a death sentence.
Dry July is not something I ever imagined I’d want to take part in, but I am. The funny thing is that I still don’t WANT to do it particularly. Who wants to volunteer to give up those engaging fine aromatic herbs, and Dawson cherry tastes that are subtly smooth and succulent on the tongue. Who wants to give up liquid hints of chocolate with sweet, velvet, fine rolling tannins (thank you Quartz Reef Pinot Noir). Um, not me. I love wine. Particularly red wine. The look, the smell, the taste. I also am a huge fan of champagne and the way it delightfully tickles the senses. However I have made a decision to do it for the month of July because my favourite cousin has cancer and it just so happens that I love my cousin more than I love that liquid amuse-bouche: alcohol.
I got a text from my cousin one fine saturday in June. He had been undergoing treatment for a certain type of cancer that he and the Doctor’s had gone into battle against and won.
It wasn’t ‘the big C’ type of cancer. More the ‘lower case c’ survivable cancer kind.
Still scary – yes indeed and most certainly not to be trifled with but not a ‘the vultures are circling and I can see the whites of their eyes’ kind of cancer. Hurrah!
This latest text however spelt out that sadly they had found another cancer. “gulp”.
This time the vultures were not circling. They had found a perch and were getting comfortable.
In quote marks from the doctors in the text my cousin sent me was that cheesy American-tv-series worthy line “The medical fraternity will help you with your pain however your cancer tumour is incurable.”
It was a very blunt and straight to the point text. After all my cousin has had careers in both the army and more recntly the police force so he is not the kind of bloke to pull his punches.
The doctors went on to say that they will give my cousin pain medication that will hopefully “give you a quality of life.” In the text my cousin adds “for whatever time I have.”
I recall it being a beautiful sunny day quite clearly. There were kakariki (NZ native parrot) playing in a tree. About 5 or 6 of them and I was entranced. Welcome swallow were swooping, chasing insects in the sun. I was out of town at a not-for-profit charity Board meeting that was being held in a conference centre with beautiful park-like grounds.
Next up on the agenda after lunch was me giving a one and a half hour presentation. When we broke for lunch I took myself outside to read the text from my cousin. I sat on the steps in the sun and bawled my eyes out. Called my husband to tell him the news then dried my tears, blew my nose and went and gave my presentation.
Afterwards I asked my cousin what I could do to help? I was in Auckland at the time and my cousin lives in Tauranga with his family. I contemplated flying to be with him, his wife and 2 kids. I wanted to help this man who has dedicated his life to helping others. He has been in the army and now he is a policeman serving his local community in the best way he can. I wanted to help in any way, big or small. To cook, clean, drive, clean, I don’t know what really. I just wanted to participate in any way I could and I wanted to show my love and care for him and his family. Knowing that none of it was probably going to fix him, take away these feelings or help in any significant way. I felt deflated. I felt impotent, shattered and utterly hopeless. I sat in those feelings of frustration, anger and despair for days. We were moving house at the time so I had enough going on to distract me when I needed it and lots of time to think about how else I might help him and his family in a meaningful way.
A few days later my cousin sent a text saying that a trust had been set up to help assist him and his family. The funds would be used towards a treatment that is helping him feel better, but that is expensive and would we give money?
I don’t know how hard it must be to ask your friends and family for money. But I imagine it is a pretty tough thing to do.
In a strange way I was relieved to get that text because finally there was something tangible that I could do that would make a difference.
I discussed with my Husband what to donate and we chose to donate the amount of a few flights, rental cars, accommodation, meals etc… – what we would have roughly spent had we gone to visit.
For my cousin money has become the measure of time. Pain free time. I asked myself how much money I would give if I knew that it would buy my cousins kids some extra time with their Dad. How much would I give my cousins wife so that they could have a few more days, more hours to add to the length of their long and happy marriage.
As much as I could spare was the answer. So we gave.
Dry july came around and I saw another opportunity to participate in my cousins life. Another opportunity to give. Not to some faceless charity, but to someone I know who is in real pain.
A pain that affects my entire family from Tauranga to Hamilton, Palmerston North, Lower Hutt, Australia and all the rellies in between. Pain that I feel too.
It is not lost on me that many people drink alcohol to numb their pain, and this month I’m NOT drinking alcohol in the hope that I can numb someone else’s pain. I hope it works.
Husband and I have pledged to each other and now to you, that we will not be drinking alcohol in July.
The money we would have spent on that delicious deep bodied red or some sparkly mood altering bubbles is going to my beautiful (inside and out) cousin Reece in the hope that it buys him and his amazing family quality of life, while we all pray for a miracle.
Should you want to donate directly to the trust set up to support my cousin and his family let me know in the comments and I’ll email you the account number.