I haven't blogged in a while. I find the longer I'm sober the more time I spend living. Last week I sent a random text to my sponsor asking how she was surviving the frigid temps we were having and she immediately called my cell phone. Our friend A had died the night before. He drank himself to death.
A was one of the first people I met in AA. He had walked through the doors eight months before me. I remember him coming up to me at the end of my second meeting because I had said something that he could relate to. I had told the story of how when I took the recyclables out I would deposit one or two empty liquor bottles in my neighbors bins to I wouldn't look like such a lush. Turns out he did the same. A friendship was born. We would always say "hey neighbor" because we lived on the same street. I often saw him outside with his two beloved dogs when the kids and I would go bike riding. We always waved and exchanged a few words. I knew he was going through a divorce and that he had lost his job but he was always upbeat and so grateful that he was in recovery.
Last spring the divorce was finalized and thus began the unraveling of A. He fell off the wagon and ended up in rehab. He was fighting to come back. I would give him a ride home once in a while after a meeting and the last time we sat and talked I noticed the sparkle or light in his eyes was gone. His posture signified his defeat.
Last Monday night he went home and started a party for one and never came back.
Its funny how little you know about people. His obituary told a story that I knew nothing about. He was a successful business man, a president of a lumber company. Father of three grown children, active in boy scouts, even received the "order of the arrow" from them. He hunted, fished, golfed, skiied, and lived a rich full life. My friend D and I attended his wake yesterday. He was cremated but there were so many beautiful picture boards and memorabilia that it took a long time to take it all in. So many happy having fun pictures. Laughing and loving life. This is an A I never knew. He was in fact quite humble about his life.
The last time I saw him was two weeks ago at a Saturday meeting. He was slunk deep in his chair, unshaven, large black circles but still managed a heaty "hey neighbor" greeting. Now I won't have the privilege of hearing that again. He has left an empty space around the table.
Afterwards a bunch of us talked about our loss. We asked how other people were doing that we hadn't seen in a while. Many are back out there hoping to cheat death one more time. For my friend A there wasn't one more time. There won't be another time for others either.
I'm not sure what makes people go back out again. Life is too much, or staying sober is too difficult, or they've just given up and want to give in. It's heartbreaking. A was only 56. A lot of living still left to do. So as I'm approaching my third sober anniversary I am reminded that the disease is one small drink away. It makes me shudder to think that its always that close. Good bye A, may you find the peace you were so desperately searching for......