This is not a feel good story. This won’t give you the warm fuzzy’s or make you cry in a good way. This is the story I hate to tell.
About 3 months ago I got a phone call from an old friend of mine. We were pretty close in high school; both a little weird, both a little crazy & both always down for a little trouble. He was new to our school so he was a clean slate. He didn’t know my past & I didn’t know his & neither of us cared much. We had fun together. When you’re 16 that’s all that matters.
I was surprised to hear from him. We were friends on The Book of Faces, with the occasional nod, poke or prod, but there hadn’t been much engagement in a decade or so. I am always so grateful for social media because although the link my be weak, it is still there.
So he called. It was late, but I was so happy to hear his voice, I stayed up past my bedtime to reminisce. I wanted to know all about his travels, his life, his great loves, if he still listened to good music & where he got all his tattoos. I was ready for him to spill it, but he cut right to the chase, “You look so happy. Are you really as happy as you seem?”
“I am. The happiest I’ve ever been. My life isn’t perfect, but it’s amazing.”
“And you’re sober, like, completely clean & sober?”
“3 years & counting. What’s up, man?” I could tell he wanted to know my secret.
“How are you doing it?”
This is a question I get asked a lot. How could a person with such a wrecked past, who gave up everything they loved for a thing that gripped them so tightly, who had nothing & no one; how could that person rebuild, not just a life without drugs & alcohol, but a meaningful, wonderful life? It seems impossible!
I told him the solution that I found. Ultimately I found a strong, unshakeable bond with my Creator through the 12-steps. It took some work, surrender, mowing over, sowing new seeds, being refined by fire & eventually just turning everything over to God. I had not rebuilt this beautiful life, God had.
My friend scoffed, he had tried the 12-steps. He had trusted that it would work & he had found some peace for some time, but who wants to continually work towards happiness, shouldn’t it just come after a time? He gave a list of reasons he was different than me. He was too smart, too unique, too…to infinity.
I once was in his shoes, so I got it. I can’t sell this stuff to him, he would need to come to this one on his own. So we bid farewell & I told him to call anytime.
He died yesterday. He lost his battle with this disease. I wish I could tell you that he is the first of my friends to pass away due to a drug overdose, but he is actually the latest of over 10.
My heart breaks. I KNOW the pain he was in before he died. Not physical pain, but the kind of pain that makes your stomach hurt. The kind of pain that makes you want to die. The kind of pain that leads you back down the path to ultimate demise.
Say a prayer tonight. Last night it was my friend, tonight there will be more. As we lament about all the celebrities that 2016 has taken, please don’t forget about the addicts who’s lives are claimed every day.
Stay Gold, my friend.