I’m sitting in the back of the chapel. The children are gathered near the front, the casket behind them. Between sobs and gasps, I hear familiar words. “Dad was too young.” “He was doing so well.” “I know he loved you so much.” While not heard, thoughts were present on those faces. “What was he doing out there, at that time of the night?” “Why couldn’t he stop for his beautiful girls?” How many times did he go to jail?” “It’s just a shame that he wasted his life.”
George had double digit sobriety when we met 8 or 10 years ago, at a service function no less. He was full of life and sobriety. His laugh was infectious and I was amazed at how healthy he was – physically and mentally. Throughout that year, I would see George at various meetings and events. I had just moved to town and was still getting replanted in a local group and new sponsor. It was great to see that familiar face! He loved his children and just beamed every time he got a chance to talk about them.
Over time, I watched as work demands increased for George. He had less time for meetings, sponsees, service, and his sponsor. His demeanor took a turn towards the negative. Then an altercation at work left him unemployed. Shortly after that, word came that he was back in jail and then transferred to a facility upstate to serve time on a weapon’s charge.
Then we heard that George had been released and was in a transition center not far from the jail upstate. He had a sponsor again, was hitting meetings regularly, and was working. Good reports continued to appear periodically, and confidence in George’s recovery grew.
An extended family member needed assistance and George moved back here after finishing a year at the transition center. Worried looks were exchanged by a few long-time members when someone shared that George was back in town. Everyone crossed their fingers and prayed that their guts were wrong. While George wasn’t making meetings, he was spending time with this family and children so maybe that would be enough to get by. He turned 50 Friday. I happily posted Facebook birthday greetings for the big event. The accident occurred late Friday night, his birthday.
I would not allow myself to read between the lines as I scanned the news report of the accident. It didn’t matter what the details were; George was one of us and he was gone. The tornado running through the lives of family and friends was finally still. My corner in the chapel provided a disease laden vantage point of a poignant reminder. We are only promised a daily reprieve, dependent on maintenance of our spiritual condition. Godspeed, George, Godspeed.
“We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God's will into all of our activities.”