No greater gift

No greater gift

Occasionally, I am invited to attend an “open” AA meeting.  Typically, it is to celebrate a milestone in recovery.

Rare is the invitation to celebrate a child’s recovery.

(Note:  this is shared with permission of the storytellers)

The room is filled with men and women who greet each other warmly.  This is an established group. Most are over the age of 50, many in their 70s.  And many have been sober for years.

Today they gather to listen to a young man in his late 20s, the son of a long-term AA member.  He is home for the holidays and willing to share.

His mother knows his story well – from her point of view.  But she’s never heard him tell it, let alone to others.

He begins as many alcoholics do – stating he is an alcoholic, has a sponsor, his sponsor has a sponsor, and he has a home group. He accepts that he has a disease.  Alcoholism runs in his family.

After years of suffering blackouts, he wakes up one day in a hospital and is told he is “going away.”

More fortunate than many, he enters a well-established treatment center.  After some weeks, he finds a sponsor in AA, and gradually his recovery begins.

Today he lives in a big city.  He has a good job and a girlfriend. The simple joy of inviting friends to his apartment is something he treasures.

As compelling as the young man is, it is not his face I watch.

My eyes are on his mother.

The floor opens for others to share.  Her eyes never leave her son’s face.

  • You’ve learned so much at a young age. I am happy for you and your mother. 
  • Coming here was what I needed today to stay sober.
  • My son will start college next year. I think he is fine, but you don’t know for sure, right? 
  • You mentioned how important people are. You are my people.  You are what keeps me sober.

Finally, the mother speaks.  Choking back tears, she whispers to the young man who was just yesterday a boy, “You are my heartbeat.”

She has lived her son’s journey as his mother.

Now she must learn to live her own.


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