My little corner of AA lost a very important person two days ago.
It so often happens to me that when someone passes away, my estimation of that person doubles and triples in goodness. For people in AA at least, if they die sober they are, in my eyes, the ultimate winners. There is no proof of permanent recovery before that. But after a sober death, it means to me that all the wonderful things they espoused were true, or true enough.
It sounds false to me to recount here, really, that I never heard Shamus say a bad thing about anyone. Or act annoyed, or bothered. But it’s true. Would I have said that last week? I think I would have. But I’ll never know.
I last heard him tell his story on the 4th of July at an AA gathering. A big group. His story had funny parts, like when he got a DUI on the way home from court appearing because of a previous DUI. He had more DUIs, I think, than anyone I know, and I know many people with many DUIs. His story had not so funny parts, like when he lost a really good job, or when he lived in a homeless shelter with his wife and two small children.
I knew his wife a little bit, and as a couple I know they were very helping and giving to some of the more difficult to love people who frequent AA meetings. A few years ago, his wife died, also sober, and left him with two teenagers. I know he’s had serious trouble with at least one of those kids.
One thing I always made note of regarding Shamus was how he’d often express something along the line of this: “I know everything will be all right.” That is something I just can’t believe in, and I wondered how he could express that, having been through at least the death of his wife. I kind of wish I had asked him, because now that he’s gone, I’m wondering if he had some deeper, better understanding of things than I do. He had obviously at least in some ways reached the place where what he had been through was, for the moment, all right.
Anyway, AA is my world, and my world is in mourning. How awesome is this place, where someone like Shamus could influence and help so many people. How rich is my life for knowing these people on such a deep level. It’s a miraculous, wonderful place where we go from hopeless drunks to compassionate friends and tireless helpers and where victories over alcohol take place every single day, and some are permanent.