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Grapevine : September 2011
My purpose today is clearly to stay sober and help others. I have a to- tally different perspective, a psychic change some call it. When AA becomes your fam- ily, pain by extraction is inevitable, there as anywhere. People we love in the program, especially those with time, pass on, and an aching empti- ness is left in a vacant chair. They are no longer able to share the un- believable wisdom that they accu- mulated over the years. Those who have come before us bring smiles to our faces or tears to our eyes, some- times both at the same time. Losing a loved one in sobriety is devastat- ing, but we have all been left with a special gift in the memories. Our sober friends remain a part of us forever. Losing some of our older members is sad, but I know they are still with us today in spirit, cheer- ing me on. I respectfully attend the funerals and celebrate their happy, joyous, free lives. A prominent member of our group with over 30 years contin- ued attending meetings, even after debilitating chemo and radiation therapy for pancreatic cancer. We watched him slip away right before our eyes. He would cry at meet- ings. I grew up without seeing emo- tion from any male adults, and was touched beyond words by this. He was feeling his pain with a group of people who listened compassionate- ly to what he was going through. It was a beautiful process, even amidst the painful ending, which we also considered a new beginning. This is what I wrote after our last visit with him in hospice (he passed away five days later): "Good men must die, but death cannot kill their names. They are not forgotten. We begin dying the moment of our birth and live in de- nial of death's patient grip until late in life, deep in sickness. Awareness comes to sit beside them in uncom- fortable silence. You only get to live twice: Once, when you are born, then again when you look death in the face. Death is not your last sleep, but the final awakening in your journey here." We went to visit our beautiful friend that morning, his mortality being the bittersweet reality riding on the peace, love and total under- standing of God. He was unable Thank you so much my friend for help- ing me. My life is forever changed because of you. Your wisdom and spirit are forever within me and, wherever you are, I hope the coffee is great. 22 September 2011