YOU’RE GONNA MISS THIS
BY: TAMI HARPER WINN
As the evening sun set behind us, a couple thousand people packed the auditorium and we stood swaying to the music in the front row of what would be our last concert together for at least a year and a half. My daughter and I have spent every summer since she was nine, long before I put the bottle down, in this very spot watching concerts at the State Fair. Standing beside her I felt a bittersweet moment of sadness realizing that the years had just somehow flown by. The song, “You’re Gonna Miss This” by Trace Adkins began and it couldn’t have been more fitting. With tears in my eyes I wrapped my arm around her, pulled her close, and we serenaded each other in one of the most precious moments I think I have ever experienced – and I was completely sober for it.
I often remember wondering who I would be and what life would look like if I ever stopped drinking. I couldn’t imagine my life without it then. How would I function? How would I have fun? How would I deal with life? How could I sleep, make love, or dance and sing without it? How could I exist? It seemed unfathomable. Before I made the decision to quit drinking, when I knew I probably should, it was those questions that would keep me up at night, have me running to the refrigerator for another glass of wine, and eventually crying myself to sleep. I couldn’t.
Fast forward seven years, I am very much present in this moment, soaking it up like a thirsty sponge. I look into this young woman’s eyes and there isn’t an ounce of pain behind those green and yellow eyes. Her sunflower eyes say just the opposite – she is completely happy with how her life turned out.
Just a short time ago, she watered those sunflowers nightly, wondering where her mother was and if she was ever coming home. I had built so much fear into her, that I thought I would never be able to undo it. I didn’t. God did. With time, love, patience, and a whole lot of maintenance over her heart and her trust, we pulled through with a remarkable bond.
Would I trade one moment of the struggle to get sober, desperation wound in uncertainty, or work that it took to get to this very moment with her? Not on my life or hers or even yours for that matter. Hell, I’ve even told her that if I could have this moment again with her I’d wind the clock back ten years just to get ten more with her and I’d do it just the same again. God couldn’t have designed it any more perfect. She just smiles when I say that, knowing today that the journey was so very worth the sacrifices that were made, even worth the mistakes made to get here.
I rest in comfort tonight. I rest in the comfort that all is right and well in the world – for us anyways. Here shortly I will set my last baby bird free to go out into the world to live the principles that I have taught her through recovery, in all of her affairs. One of the blessings of recovery is that she got to witness first-hand her mother living her program of recovery in her everyday life. She got to witness the magic of recovering from a seemingly hopeless disease. She can testify to the glorious resurrection of a dying spirit from simply cleaning up my side of the street and making amends to those that I had harmed in my drinking. She knows what it is required to be able to look herself in the eye and be okay with herself. She knows that it requires being honest, open-minded, and willing to see a different way.
Today, as I look back over the last eighteen years of her life I can honestly say I wouldn’t have done it any different. I can count each step with her and number them with a smile on my face, even the ones we took together during our darkest times. We did it together and we grew so much. I wouldn’t be half the mom she needed me to be, had I not had each and every one of those experiences. They brought us to where we are today. She can be proud of the mother she has today and I am so very proud of the fine young woman she turned out to be.
I credit the program of Alcoholic Anonymous and Al-Anon and twelve simple steps for teaching me how to be a mother, a woman, a friend, a lover, a sister, and a daughter. I learned how to be an employee, a trusted creditworthy individual, and someone that is a respected member of society. Did it take work? Yes, you bet your sweet bottom it did. But seeing the results in action, living through my children and the ones whose lives I touch daily, makes it all worth it.
I thought that when I got sober that my life was over – just the opposite. As I compare pictures tonight of the mother who took that sweet little girl to her first concert when she was nine, half blazed and swollen from alcoholism and the sober mother who stands smile to smile with that same young lady at this last concert, I know we are both miracles.
My daughter often times thanks me for getting sober and swears an oath of gratitude to the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon for giving her what she considers to be the best mother ever. Now I do not stand as a representative of these programs, and I am far from immune from relapse and going back to where I came from. Do not hold me to the standard by which to measure these programs. I am simply stating what has worked for me to get the results I needed so desperately thus far.
My daughter has told me repeatedly through the years that I got sober at the very moment that I needed to and not a moment too soon. She had somehow already equated alcohol with numbing all emotional pain. She tells of the terrifying thought that at the tender age of ten she had already made the decision that she would most likely drink one day. I shudder at that very thought. I shudder at how different her life would have been had I not put that drink down all those years ago. The young woman she is today would probably not exist and the treasured bond we share definitely would not.
My higher power is so perfect. I’m so grateful I listened to the still small voice inside my heart that pled for my life and my children’s lives. We have had an amazing ride. The smiles were more than the tears. There has been terrible pain through these years but the tender moments of grace that were gifted to us far outweigh the bad in our memories. I never had any idea life could be this good just because I chose not to drink today.
~ Tami Harper Winn ~
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