Celebrating Life, Love and Sobriety
On Saturday night, 40 of my sober friends gathered to celebrate a dear friend’s 35th sobriety anniversary.
My heart has overflowed with gratitude and joy ever since. What a gift to be with so many people who have become family to me and who all came together to honor one of our members.
There’s nobody quite like him
Let me tell you my first experience with Joe. It was late 2009; I had lived in the area for a few months and had checked out several groups that just didn’t have the right feel. On this particular day, I was 40 minutes late to a noon meeting, something I later learned was typical for first-timers to this group because it’s kind of a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it place.
Joe was walking–strolling is more like it–out the door as I pulled into the parking lot still not certain I was in the right place. Here was a man in overalls, silver hair pulled back into a ponytail and smoking what looked like a hand-rolled cigarette.
Oh Lord, I thought. I had sudden stage fright. Here I was, 18 years sober at the time, and feeling like a timid newcomer.
I gathered my courage, stepped out and asked the guy if it was the group I was looking for. Instead of answering me, he grinned in welcome, shook my hand and said, “I’m Joe and I’m real glad you’re here.”
That was the beginning of what I’m certain is a rest-of-our-lives relationship.
Our good fortune
There’s irony in our relationship, as there is in any good story, because had it not been for both of us drinking copious amounts of alcohol and suffering all the attending consequences, we wouldn’t know each other. There is no way our paths would have crossed because we truly came from two different worlds.
But alcohol was our common denominator, although we didn’t have to drink together to know that. In fact, God only knows what would have happened had we met while drinking.
By outer appearances, we are distinctly different. But we’ve both been around long enough to look far beyond what our eyes see. We know that our connection runs deep into the core of our beings where God and truth lie.
The celebration two days ago was an excuse to honor Joe’s 12,775 sober days. More importantly, however, the 40 of us celebrated the condition of sobriety and the miracles that appear each and every day as a result of one of us and all of us not drinking.
Joe and I have bonded over books and words and heartstrings and orneriness. We share the ease of kinship that accompanies two people being comfortable in their skins.
Joe is my older brother and mentor, my confidante and my pal. Our love is sometimes pure, sometimes a little on the raunchy side, and always unconditional.
To say I’m grateful for him would be a vast understatement, so I’ll go with blessed and call it good.