Looking for a picture to illustrate something about time, I found this one. This kitty is 20 years old, and on Thanksgiving we thought he was going to die that day. He didn’t. At this point it looks like he will greet the new year with us. My kids were 2 and 5 when he joined the family, and he’s been there through their entire schooling. And 20 years of my 26-year sobriety. This cat has never seen me drunk!
I’ve previously written about Phyllis here, here, and here . Carole learned that they are not going to treat Phyllis’ cancer any further, and that they give her nine to twelve months to live. Phyllis is someone who came to the program at age 70, after a life time of drinking, and while she didn’t stop drinking or using drugs completely, she had some periods of sobriety. And while she didn’t work the program completely (or even very much), on reflection at this point, if this is really to be the last year she has with her family, I believe sobriety and the program has made it and the last several years better than the years before.
We’re neighbors, and before Phyllis presented herself at our meeting, we witnessed several scenes of police or bar friends bringing her home, too drunk to get herself there from a bar a few blocks away. We heard some of her husband’s shouted pain at those times, and that hasn’t happened since she started coming to meetings. One of her sons also became the father of twins last February, and Phyllis has been able to participate in their lives as much as her health has allowed, which is a lot.
My “time” sits heavily on my shoulders, at times, and the sober mother I’ve given my kitty (and of course my children) is a blessing beyond measure. I would never ever down play it. For some reason Carole felt it necessary to tell me about some of my drunken awfulness that my mother had shared with her. There are years of my life I don’t remember. I was truly on the edge of functioning. My transformation is a miracle. That first life I was given, with genetics or predisposition or the behavior I learned from my father or the coincidence of being someone who cannot stop drinking no matter how desperate the situation becomes was ended and I was given a new life I don’t deserve.
In that way, I can’t compare my experience as a sober alcoholic in AA with Phyllis’ life as such. We have very little, yet everything in common. If I could go back a few years and tell Phyllis at that first meeting that a few years from then, she would be facing terminal cancer, what difference would it make? She couldn’t have fast-forwarded through her struggles with the program, and worked it better or more completely. She did what she did when she did it – when she was ready, and not a moment before.