I am at an AA/NA meeting at The Healing Place in Richmond, VA. One eloquent speaker says, “By the grace of God, those of us here are not wearing toe tags.” Just hearing him talk is worth my time.
I start to cry because my son was one of those that did not make it. His addiction and depression having moved him to suicide.
The young man sitting next to me looks at me. I see his tears, too. He feels the loss and the pain. He and Charles’ paths have been so similar.
He was with Charles those last two weeks. He is the reason I am here tonight. To support his recovery.
This was the very place where he and Charles waltzed out of right after they checked in just 9 months earlier. Neither was quite ready for the challenges of recovery–the craving for the drug pulling them back into their illness. They looked out for each other those two weeks.
This is the young man that found my son
That shared pain has brought us together as the most unlikely of friends. I had met him before when they went to school together and again at Charles’ memorial service. I often talk to him about discovering Charles body.
Up until I brought up the subject, no one had asked him how he was coping with that final scenery. I didn’t do anything fancy, I just listened.
This is not a fancy place. In fact it’s where the poorest men go for help from addiction. It is their last hope. It is more real than any place I’ve ever been and there is no safety net here. Surprisingly, it’s free for residents in recovery–supported by grants and the community. They do it right here because they understand that recovery doesn’t fit in a 30-day box.
I’m here once a week to show my support
It’s not something I’m doing because I’m wonderful. I need this as much as the young man sitting next to me. I need to understand this illness of addiction. I need to be there for him. It helps me cope with my loss.
So strange how life can throw a curve ball at you and you end up on a path with friends you never expected.
Addiction is a complicated journey
For months I have been keeping up with this young man through Facebook messages. He was an active heroin user at that point, but I wanted him to know he was important. Despite his illness, he is a human being that matters, just like the rest of those men in that room.
Four times he’s dropped off the radar. Once he was in jail. Once he had overdosed. The third time it was because he entered recovery. This most recent time he left recovery. I don’t know where he is but I have had a message.
Charles, please watch over him.