I’ve been a recovered alcoholic for 30+ years.
Chuck was a recovered alcoholic, also. He died 5 days shy of his 25th sober anniversary. The people who came to his bedside in southern California were some of those he’d sponsored. They presented him with his 25-year coin. Which he didn’t want to take, early, but I persuaded him that he needed to, for their sake, if not for his. He’d earned it. He stayed sober through the worst pain cancer can give a person because “I don’t want to pick up a drink again, and have my alcoholism take over and leave an ugly memory of me behind, for you. I don’t want you to be glad that I’m dead, because of the agony I might have caused”.
There are so many times I could have picked up since Chuck died. Numbed the grief and the soul slicing pain that comes with it. Gotten fallen down drunk and slept through the days and nights of anguish.
It would have been easy to do. A quick trip to the corner store to pick up a bottle or two of wine (I’m a very cheap drunk) and…unconsciousness for me.
The agony of Chuck’s dying time, the all-enveloping torture of living without him…yeah, I could have absented that from my life, if I just picked up a drink.
Temporarily, to be sure, but any time spent unconscious would have been good with me.
I even had the thought…stinkin’ thinkin’ is a thing in alcoholics…that maybe, if I picked up, that could be a thing that would piss Chuck off so much that he’d come back to haunt me. Which would be something, at least. In my tortured mind.
I gave drinking up years and years ago. By choice. I wanted a better life. I wanted to believe in the Promises of AA, which told me that I would find a new freedom and a new happiness.
Chuck and I celebrated the same sobriety date. April 26.