Don’t relapse when I die

Don’t relapse when I die

It wasn’t church, but it sure felt like it.

On a Sunday morning some 65 men and women sit in a large room, chairs scattered around rectangular tables, their eyes focused on two speakers at the head.

Feeling awkward, I sit quietly in the back. Not an alcoholic, I don’t “qualify” to attend AA meetings. But when a close friend in recovery celebrates an anniversary, and invites me to be there, I go.

This time, it is a woman I’ve admired for years. She is celebrating 11 years clean and sober and I couldn’t be prouder to be there for her.

What she shares is far more than how she got sober and stays sober. She talks about the death of her mother a year ago, and how this past year has been one of her hardest.

Others pick up on the theme of how losing a parent can rekindle the desire to “use again,” to “disappear,” and not to feel. A few admit that it triggered a relapse. Another  suffered so deeply when his father died that he’s now preparing himself for when it’s his mother’s turn.

Then someone offers this phrase: “If there’s anything you think you’re going to drink over, you probably are.”

What of my own son?

What of all the sons and daughters who today live healthy, whole lives, who have freed themselves from addiction, therein restoring the hope their parents first felt cradling them in their arms?

It’s hard to envision a time when we could hold them in our arms again to give any directive, let alone this: don’t relapse when I die.

Instead, we pray that the love we give them every day – and the spiritual bond they have with each other and with a higher power – will be what sustains them.

Please, let it be so.

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