This week, another person in my life has lost their battle with addiction. A person from my past who had an extreme effect on my life and my path. It’s another one of those situations that I look back and connect dots, I see how my path was laid out before me years before I knew I had a path.
When I was 25 or 26 I met this person through mutual friends. I was a moderate drinker at that time….well, moderate for me…lol. Anyway, he was a sober person. I had never been exposed to sober people until I moved to Los Angeles, and in LA a lot of people are sober. He was the first person I knew well that was very involved in the program. He was some years older than me, and had been sober 16 years at that time. I always thought he was so amazing because he didn’t mind being in bars or being around drinking people, he just didn’t drink. We spent a lot of our time at his coffee shop, on Sunset Blvd. He and his best friend had opened a coffee shop that catered to the sober community. They were open until 4am, they had a pool table and games, a juke box, and a fantastic safe and sober place to spend their time together. I loved that place. Eventually we went our separate ways but I always thought fondly of him and his coffee shop.
A handful of years later I got sober. One of my sober dreams has always been a coffee shop, like his. It was so awesome to have somewhere to go and to hang out with sober people. To have an avenue to socialize and meet people that have the same life goal. I have thought about it and thought about it, I have talked about it and dreamed about it. And recently I have gotten a little more serious about putting it together.
When I look back on that time I think about my higher power a lot. I think about how my path was being placed in front of me one piece at a time, without my knowledge. I think about that exposure to this person and how important it became in my own sobriety. I think about the lessons I learned from him, to have a sense of humor about sobriety, to be strong, and to not worry about what other people are doing but to stay focused on my own goals. To be shown that just because I am sober doesn’t mean I have to be afraid of drinking places and drinking people. To have seen firsthand the beauty of the fellowship and how people take care of one another and how people interact with one another. The coffee shop and its safety and its joy and comfort.
When I got sober I sent him a message on MySpace. I later learned that he relapsed, was partying very hard and doing other things that wouldn’t be considered healthy. I was very sad and have said many prayers over the years that he would find his way back. Unfortunately, he did not. Instead, he had a heart attack, was in a medically induced coma for a few days, and yesterday he died.
Today, I just prefer to think about the great things he gave me that truly shaped my sobriety before I even knew I would have sobriety. I think about the strength he showed me and the lessons he taught me. I know that everyone is brought into our lives for a reason, and it took many years to know the reason. But the very moment I got sobriety, I knew.
I will continue to focus on how grateful I am for him, and I will forever be sad that his journey ended the way it did. And I will let it be a daily reminder of the responsibility I have to my fellows, and to myself, to stay sober, to stay involved, and to stay happy.