He had been sober for 6 months.

The moment felt so fragile, like a porcelain teacup teetering on the table’s edge.  One tiny shake of the house – a truck rumbling outside or a jet flying too low overhead- might send it crashing to the floor.

If it shatters into a dozen pieces, can it be put back together again?

When Jacob was new to recovery, I tiptoed around him. Fear fueled my every move.  If I said the wrong thing, would he use again?  If I said the right thing, would he use again?

Early in his sobriety, living 1,000 miles away, he phoned us.  The conversation went like this:

“Mom, Brad died.”

Brad was his age, someone he’d met in the South Florida treatment center.  They had shared an apartment after they “graduated” to living on their own.

“O Jake, I am so sorry.”

Silence on the other end.

“Yeah, he overdosed. It was pretty bad.”

“Jake, I really am sorry.  That’s awful.”  I thought of his poor parents.  Do I mention how terrible this must be for them?

“Yeah, his mom is coming to get him.  We’re going to have a service for him.  I just wanted you to know.”

So now I knew.  Just another reminder that death stalked the homes and shops and bars where my son now lived.  Still, I was grateful he told me, grateful he sounded calm, sad – and sober.

A colleague who works in addiction told me it was good that Jacob shared his feelings.

These fragile young men.  Waking up each morning to stay sober for that day.  Where do they find the extra courage to face tragedy, and still stay sober?

But they do.

And I have to remember that.

Because sometimes I feel as fragile as that teacup, too.

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