I don’t remember walking into the liquor store but I do remember coming to and checking my voicemails, realizing that Ric had been taken to a hospital, where he would remain for some twenty plus days, suffering from pneumonia and a TB scare.
During that time I drank lethal amounts of alcohol, trying in vain to blot out the hell that had become my life. The pressure simply became too much and I turned to the most dangerous solution I could find. I snapped and spiraled into depths previously unknown. But, unbeknownst to me, angels were assembling around me, diligently waiting, interceding in prayer, ready at a moment’s notice to rush in and save my broken life.
Some friends fell away, making the relapse more about them than about the issue at hand. They claimed my best interest but the reality was my relapse and subsequent early departure from three detox units bruised egos and wounded hearts. I do not blame them. But all things that occurred were just as they were meant to be; all a part of God’s divine plan.
But there were yet still others who said “This battle is not yours alone to fight, this burden is not yours alone to carry. This loss is not yours alone to grieve, this path is not yours alone to walk. We are here. Family, friends, strangers. And we will lift you up and carry you on when your own resources fail you. You will not slip the bonds of this life and we will not let you fall. We are here. We are here.
We. Are. Here!”
They were the essence of faith, the essence of Christ. They extended their hearts and their hands. They forgave my foolishness and my actions, not once or twice. But seventy times seven. Their spirit of hope triumphed over my abyss of darkness.
While some who claimed to be my closest friends recoiled and severed ties with me in every way imaginable, treating me as a leper relegated to the colony, others stepped forward without precondition or demand, and said “Do not look back. What’s done is done. Look forward. We know what you are going through because we are you”
My mother, a woman who can barely walk on her own, flew up from Texas and stayed with me. She sat in my hospital room, day and night, rubbing ice on my arm for hours when the IV drip burned, cleaning my apartment from top to bottom, paying bills that I could not pay with money that she could not spare. She showed me that her faith was not simply reconstituted catch phrases, or feel-good superlatives, but was instead something she lived. We grew closer in ways I never imagined. From the ashes sprang new life, from the tragedy came renewed bonds. She shielded me from the elements when I could not shield myself and reminded me that love is sometimes a verb.
Acquaintances came to my loft and offered their experience, strength and hope. They wiped my brow and held my hand and prayed with me. They gave without asking, listened without demanding, spoke without yelling.
Many friends moved closer, lifting me up in thought and deed. They personified a sober life worth living. They did not scold or rebuke. They did not retreat in anger. In brilliant brushstrokes they painted a picture of a program that works if you work it. Suggestions became life-preservers. Words leapt from the pages of musty books written decades ago and were made anew by the actions of the many that humbly live with an obsession that has been lifted. They simply said, yet again, “We are here. We are here
We. Are. Here”
God, in his infinite grace and abiding love, opened doors where there were simply walls, moved mountains when they were too large to scale, changed the course of the ship in the face of the storm, and whispered from the heavens “I am here. I am here.
I am the Great I Am, and I. Am. Here!”