By Ron O’Clair
It was with profound sadness that I discovered that the news item I had seen concerning a man found dead in a burning home off Greenwood Street was actually someone I had interacted with through the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous: David Carlson. I myself am a recovering alcoholic. I have been in recovery for 35 years!
When I first met David, he was high to the point that he tripped and fell down the third floor stairs of a mutual friend whom we both were helping to move from a third floor apartment to a fourth floor (!!) apartment! During the move, in one of the many treks up and down those wooden stairs, he lost his footing, slid down to the next level, taking out one of the balustrades in the bannister on his way down. With the luck that seemed to belong to David during falls, he was not seriously injured and insisted in continuing with the job at hand, which I am here to tell you, Rose, I do NOT plan on repeating any time in the future!
As I have been associated with the various recovery programs for multiple years – AA, NA, AL ANON – I try my best to reach out a hand to those who could benefit from the simple AA program of recovery and perhaps help them to deal with their own problems with addiction to one substance or another. Hopefully, to get better ONE DAY AT A TIME as the A.A. motto goes. David was one of the people I met along my own journey to sobriety, and I recognized right away he could benefit from the program.
We became friends during Rose’s brutal move, and I began taking David along with me to AA meetings soon afterwards. David had a very long and distinguished career of trying to quit drinking and using; he had even gone to many expensive treatment centers, trying to get to a point that he could put down the stimulants for good. For whatever reason, David could not remain alcohol- and drug-free for any substantial length of time.
I did what I could to try to get David to stay away from that first drink or drug, offered to take him to AA meetings, offered to take him to anywhere he thought he needed to go to get better, One Day At A Time. I spent hours in discussions with David, and during those discussions learned a lot about him.
David was well educated, intelligent, effusive and very likeable – the “life” of the party you might say. It was generally a pleasure to have his company! He was one of the rare ones who are able to remain civil and jovial, even when intoxicated, which was generally his condition most days of our acquaintance. Sure, he could be petulant and moody like anyone else, but I had never seen him become aggressive or violent either under the influence or sober. For me to read how David was brutally killed was shocking. I couldn’t quite grasp how David Carlson could have been a victim of such a horrible demise.
My first thought upon reading the Worcester Police Facebook Page account of the crime, without realizing that they were talking about David Carlson, was that it was some type of gay lovers’ spat that spiraled out of control, ending in the 54-year-old person’s death. That is what I got from what I read posted on Facebook. Then I found out from Rose that it was David Carlson who had been killed, apparently just the way I had surmised by reading between the lines of the WPD post.
David was a perpetual victim of those who preyed upon his generosity.
This observation is based upon my own observances and knowledge acquired during the course of our friendship. David had been victimized repeatedly by those on the fringes of our society whom he tried to “help.” He was often robbed, assaulted … What transpired still came as a shock to me, though in reflection, I suppose it was inevitable, due to his inability to achieve and maintain lengthy sobriety from alcohol and drugs.
The people he associated with while under the influence did not truly care about David Carlson as a person. They cared about what he could do for them or, more to the point, what they could manage to deprive him of through theft and deception, to enable them to get drunk or high at David’s expense.
It is an endemic problem in our society of late. There are many David Carlson’s out there, trying to “help” addicts and alcoholics, while at the same time battling their own addictions. There are many scams, thefts and lies that are perpetrated upon people like David in the quest for money to buy either booze or drugs in order to maintain a “high.” David had been a victim repeatedly, and he got dragged back into the life that killed him at the hands of these “friends” whom he himself was trying to “help” into recovery. People he sincerely liked.
But if you surround yourself with people who want to get drunk and high, your chances are not good of maintaining a healthy friendship – or your own state of sobriety. If you surround yourself with people who don’t drink and drug, your chances are greater that you will succeed in your sobriety. Unfortunately for David Carlson, he was perhaps not able to tell who his friends were in reality. True friends don’t continue to enable someone to fall into alcoholism and drug abuse and all the pitfalls that kind of existence comes with. True friends try to help someone get better one day at a time without being judgmental. I considered David Carlson a friend, one who will be missed but not forgotten.
Perhaps David’s death will make someone else who is battling the demons of alcoholism and drug addiction take a moment to reflect on their own choices and make a change in their own life before it’s too late.
“I am responsible, whenever anyone anywhere reaches out a hand for help, I want the hand of A.A. to be there, and for that, I am responsible”
Rest in peace, my friend David Carlson …
Your friend, Ronald O’Clair…
For Davey, from Rose💙: