QuittingMy aunt Lori quit smoking on Tuesday. Cold Turkey. She has smoked for as long as I can remember. I believe she told me once that she had her first cigarette when she was 14. I won't disclose her age, but let's just say that she has been smoking for probably about 30 years. That is a LONG time for an addiction like smoking. I received an e-mail from her yesterday afternoon stating the exact date and time, to the minute, that she had enjoyed her last cigarette. She said that she had been eating carrots, celery, mints and chewing on a lot of crushed ice.
Although I don't know exactly what quitting smoking is like, I imagine it to be one of the hardest things to do. It must consume your every thought, all day long, every minute. As a very weak example, think of something that you have everyday that you take for granted, like your cell phone, computer, coffee or your microwave. Then imagine how you use that thing everyday- how many times you use it, how much you rely on it for something, how if you lost it or if it was taken away, how lost you would be. Smoking has got to be 10 times worse than that. It is a physical addiction, not just a mental addiction.
I don't expect you to understand how touching this is, but in all the encouragement I could muster for my aunt by e-mail, she replied that she has been begging my dad for help. Of course, I started bawling when I read that. After all, my dad died of a heart attack and smoking is one of the top causes for heart disease. After he passed away a year and a half ago, I went crazy researching heart attacks and the causes. I called my aunt a couple of times in the following weeks to try to persuade her to quit smoking out of fear that the same thing would happen to her as had happened to my dad. She knew that she needed to quit, but she just wasn't quite convinced. Her brother had just died because of the very thing that she was doing and that just wasn't enough.
Well, apparently this week was the right time for Aunt Lori. I don't know exactly what sparked her motivation to quit on Tuesday, but each person has to be comfortable with their decision, they have to be ready mentally for that drastic change. Sometimes it takes a while to become comfortable with an idea for one to take the first step. And sometimes that takes years. I remember when my mom quit smoking. She had tried a couple of times before but had not succeeded. She quit for good just after my great grandfather passed away, whom she was fairly close to. She just quit. It was not my dying grandfather's wish that she quit- he was not on his deathbed begging her to quit as a method of bargaining against his death. His death just spoke to her and that was that. She never questioned WHY it was, it was just one of those life-changing experiences that made her want to change her habit. I am not saying that a loved on has to die for someone to overcome addiction, it has been my experience that death is a great catalyst for positive change.
When I think of my aunt, I picture her with a cigarette in between her fingers, taking a long, slow, clearly gratifying drag while she listens intently to my words, keeping the smoke in her lungs for as long as she can hold her breath so as to hang onto the effect for as long as possible. It will be shocking to see her without, to not smell the stench of smoke on all of her belongings and on her when we hug or when I visit. It will be so great to have more time with her and for her to have more time for herself and for her family because she won't have to be constantly going outside to smoke.
And what an accomplishment- to be able to say that you QUIT SMOKING, that you conquered something so powerful that it harnessed your mind, your body, your every thought for THIRTY YEARS. I know this is something that smokers will understand a whole lot better than I, but I see it as one of the most noble victories. I KNOW she can do it.