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  • Writer's pictureDrew Dotson

An August of opportunity

Though I’ve been writing regularly, I haven’t posted much lately. This is mostly for good reason. For example, my friend Elaine came back into town over the weekend, and we had a bit of a staycation at a lovely Airbnb in Midtown Atlanta. I did some normal-people things such as enter a grocery store (masked) for the first time since February. I even got in a swimming pool, enjoyed a comedy show at an amphitheater, and paddle-boarded on a lake. Watch out, world; the Drewdle is loose!

So, what are my days looking like lately? Well, for one, it’s crazy not being confined to a hospital room: something I realize was a luxury in terms of the virus, yet it was also torturous because all I wanted to do was fix a completely irreparable situation. Since most of my time spent at the hospital resulted from my aggressive legal speak (#judgewifelife), I was never able to leave Ramón’s room when I was there due to visitor restrictions. Practically speaking, I was in solitary confinement, handcuffed by the source(s) of my anxiety. I am rediscovering what it’s like to live again.

Yesterday, for example, was a simple, enjoyable day. It wasn’t one I could have predicted, but nothing seems to be that way anymore – an overwhelming, simultaneously electrifying thought. Moments were enjoyable, yes, but incredibly little about the day was simple. At one point, I was drinking coffee while watching my young nephews enthusiastically teach my dogs kindergarten-level information. Although I loved the wholesomeness of the situation, I also found myself longing to be a perpetual child without any responsibility for the rest of my life.

I finally released myself from the jaws of the couch to knock out some freelance work. After working for an embarrassingly short amount of time, I found myself joyously eating queso without a care in the world. The cheese gave me the fuel to get online to order some cremation keepsake items for Ramón’s family. Then I got distracted by the internet and also bought a gift for a friend.

Next, I went totally wild and had a Cherry Coke as I sat outside with the dogs, letting them enjoy some sunshine. As I was sitting there, admiring the beautiful blue sky, I glanced at the house next door to my parents’. At that specific moment, I remembered that their neighbor died Friday after a blood cancer battle that started very soon after Ramón’s in 2019. But, right as that unfortunate thought crossed my mind, I noticed some strikingly beautiful purple flowers on my other side. Everything is enhanced lately.

When I moseyed back inside, I noticed Ramón’s phone sitting on the counter. I checked it to find a sweet text from a couple he married just a few weeks before we learned his cancer was back in February. Then, I glanced at my phone because I saw I had some emails. One was about a grief support group, and the other was a Google alert notifying me of an article entitled “Criminal Defense Lawyers Mourn Judge Ramón Alvarado.” That triggered one of those oh-that’s-right-he’s-dead epiphanies. And that segued into a thought process where I found myself surprised by how matter of fact it all seems at times.

Soon after, I got a text from Elaine, who headed back to Iowa this morning: “I was just thinking about this weekend and how you are so easy to be around even when you are going through Sh*tville.” Contentment is surprisingly effortless if you’re focused on a moment: the sound of the rain, the texture of a comfortable sweatshirt, or the joy of human connection. So, naturally, after my peaceful reflection on the beauty of life, I found myself on the verge of drop-kicking a scanner because I just wanted to get a damn death certificate in electronic format.

Then, as the Braves game started, I ate some ice cream because, you know, I’m the picture of health. While I watched the game, I also worked on an online jigsaw puzzle because, you know, nerd. Then, in the middle of my fervent puzzle-building, I got a message request on Instagram. So, as I watched the Braves prevail, I wound up counseling a woman on Instagram whose husband suffered a brain injury around the same time Ramón did.

At certain moments, the entire story still feels very surreal, and I find myself wondering how in the actual hell this plot got so twisted. Most of the time, though, I instead find myself accepting that it did, in fact, unfold this way. No amount of suffering now will rewrite what has happened, and I find a soul-nourishing level of peace in that thought. More than ever before in my life, I wholeheartedly believe in the magic of every moment. I want to make this an August of opportunity.


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