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Grapevine : December 2011
Looking back to December 2009, I was on shaky ground. Only seven months sober, I was struggling with the thought of the approach- ing Christmas holiday. I was missing my dad, who had passed away in May, and was feeling hurt and resentful of wrongs done to me by other close family members. I dreaded the holiday, when surfacing memories of better times with my family would make my wounds feel especially raw. On the morning of Christmas Eve, I found myself in chilly New Eng- land at my in-laws' house, searching for a meeting in an unknown-to-me town. Bracing myself for several eve- nings to come where alcohol would be flowing freely, I knew I needed a meeting to buoy my spirits and keep me free from my alcohol obsession and self-pity. I hoped that someone in the noon meeting to which I was heading would say something mean- ingful that would resonate with me, remind me of my past struggles with alcohol, reinforce the freedom to be found in AA and help me stay sober. I found the church and searched for the usual back-door meeting en- trance, my boots crunching through snow and ice. A door opened onto a hallway that was dark and cold. I lis- tened for a moment but heard no dis- tant voices. I wandered the halls un- til I met a maintenance worker kind enough to look on a roster and tell me the meeting room number. As I con- tinued down the hall, an older gentle- man joined me. He too was looking for an AA meeting. We found the room in the base- ment, unheated and dark. Sitting alone in the room, hands folded on the table, was a young man. "Is this the AA meeting?" I asked him. He re- sponded, "I think so. I've never been to this meeting." Checking my cell phone and realizing it was exactly noon, I said with nervous laughter, "I guess the meeting was cancelled. Looks like it's just us three!" I did my best to sound cheerful. I turned to the older gentleman and asked, "So, how long have you been sober?" He replied, "This is my first- ever AA meeting. I just quit drinking yesterday." His answer stunned me, as it started to sink in what was in store for me during the next hour. I turned to the younger man, hoping to find a comrade-in-arms who could help me carry the meeting. I asked him about his sobriety and if he'd ever been to this particular meeting. He quietly replied no, that this was his first AA meeting, too---a court-ordered atten- dance. Now I was a little freaked out! I'd never run a meeting before, and was a novice at helping those new to so- briety. I felt the pressure of AA upon me. I knew I needed to represent our Fellowship well in order to be of the greatest help to these two men. Most- ly I felt God's presence like a splash of aagrapevine.org 17