Old Year's Memories
Today is the last day of the year. 2016 has been, probably, as good or bad as 2015, 2014, and 2013.
All of the folks in the media are talking about the celebrities who died this year, and there have been a few. I don't really keep track of that sort of thing, as far as people that I don't know, personally.
In the last 3 months, however, there have been several people that have been a part of my life, that have died. I want to tell you now about how I am grateful for them.
The first one is my Uncle Brett. Brett was about a year younger than I, and so we were more like siblings when we were young. Every summer I went to stay for a week or 2, at Grandma & Grandpa's farm. Brett & I got along well. We climbed trees together, rode bikes, and explored the woods on the edge of their property. We swam in their pond/lake, and when it rained, we went out to hunt nightcrawlers. Oh, and we fished, too. A few years ago, Brett was diagnosed with cirrhosis. Last fall, Brett died as a direct result of alcoholism.
Next, just a few weeks after Brett, it was my childhood next-door neighbor, Jimmy. His Mom & mine were best friends for years, so all of us kids hung out, too. He was a wiry, ornery kid, but very likeable.
Jimmy's sister said that he'd "started drinking again", and something about him taking too many of his... antidepressants? I don't know for sure, but if he had stopped drinking for a time, it wouldn't have taken as much alcohol for him to get alcohol poisoning or worse. Jimmy died as a result of alcoholism.
Thirdly, a woman I had known for about 18 years, from a 12-step fellowship. Billie was loud, funny, clever, and exuberant, artistic and kind. Billie never knew a stranger. She'd had a very troubled youth; when we met she appeared to be self-assured and sassy. We were fast friends. Billie had a role in introducing my ex-husband and I. About a month ago I learned that my old friend had finally had enough. It looked like she had overdosed, no telling on what. Billie was one person who had survived so much in her life that I never really thought about her dying...But addiction and/or mental illness took her away far too soon.
Most recently, the one friend I'd gotten close to since moving hundreds of miles from home, overdosed one last time. Carrie wrestled with mental illness as well as long-term addictions. She was brave, compassionate. She felt STRONGLY. She was a prime example of "all-or-nothing". Like so many of us, somewhere along the way, Carrie had come to believe that she didn't deserve to be treated gently, respectfully, and like the precious child of God that she was. That being the case, when something great happened in her life, the fear of the expected backlash kept her running back to the frightening and self-destructive things that would take her life.
Carrie was the final person to die this year, with whom I had been blessed to have crossed paths. She left behind 2 children who won't have to be afraid, anymore, of what their Mom is doing.
I am grateful for the ability to care about others, today, and to allow myself to be known. I am grateful for the 12 Steps and the friends and family I've found in the Rooms. I am grateful for the lessons I've learned, even the painful ones, and opportunities I've been given to share them with those I meet on this path.
I am tremendously grateful for being Drunkless. ☕
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