A friend telephoned me a few hours ago to let me know that Larry, the man who has sponsored me for the past 28 years, passed away sometime last night. He's the man I loved and trusted most in the world. I am mostly numb with occasional moments of devastating loss.
We were going to meet at the recent Brothers In Spirit retreat last weekend, but he never made it. There was a lot of talk at the retreat about program brothers who had passed away recently. Dan, Neal, Uncle Jimmy, Skip. At the Steering Committee meeting after the retreat, doing housekeeping things and discussing next year's BIS, one of the brothers reminded us all of what Neal used to say whenever he'd hear recovering addicts complaining about aches, pains, graying hair, loose teeth, and enlarging prostates. He'd say, "Remember, we weren't even supposed to be here."
True. Addicts die young. That was the rule for the longest time. It's no longer a rule now; It's a choice. No addict who wants to get clean has to die from this disease. Reach out, pick up that phone directory, call the Narcotics Anonymous number, do what the person on the other end says, put down the drug and pick up on the program, go to those meetings, and follow the suggestions. If you do that, most likely you too will grow old enough to wrinkle up, ache, gimp, bitch, and help a few hundred newcomers into recovery.
If you don't use, you get older. Kids in the program make jokes about me having been around since rocks were soft. And Larry was older than me. He probably witnessed the Big Bang and complained about the noise. It shouldn't have been a surprise he passed away, but it was.
Being mindful of mortality, I often say that no one has a lock on the next ten minutes. But somewhere deep inside me I feel that those about whom I care are immortal. I never raised that belief to a verbal level, so I never knew I held it. Time after time this year, though, someone has died who "wasn't supposed to." But they died anyway. Life on life's terms: what a sucky deal. I don't have a lock on my next ten minutes, nor anyone else's.
I can hear Larry now, laughing in my ear, and saying, "So what're you gonna do? Pick up? That'll make everything all right." Larry had his sarcastic moments.
No, Larry, I won't pick up the drug and use. It's the one thing calculated to make what I'm feeling now much much worse, and I don't think I could live through feeling worse than this. Besides, that would be one hell of a way to honor the thirty years of clean time you and I, among others, achieved for me. You're the one who blessed the title of this blog because you knew it's truth. I really hope you can get together with the redneck (his first sponsor). I know how much you missed him. I really wish we could have written that book.
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