I went to a memorial service today for a friend's son. He was 6 months older than me and died as a result of his alcoholism.
I started crying before we even got inside the church, but not because I was so sad about the passing of this man who I had met only one time, I was, but my tears were more about what I was witnessing there. This mama was *surrounded* by all of her program friends. She was surrounded by love and care today and she was not alone. There was no judgement....only love for her AND her son and her family. I looked at all of our mutual friends and I thought "these are my people." I was proud and happy to have so many wonderful friends who come when they are needed.
This man had struggled with sobriety for many many years and was never able to really hang onto it. Until the past 9 months....he had 9 months sober when he died. His body was just so worn out and damaged from the years of abuse that it couldn't continue on. I almost feel that these 9 months were a gift to his sweet and wise mama...I think that before he got called home her HP was going to give her what she had prayed for so many years.
He spent his last days in the hospital and we heard stories of him fighting the idea that this was it, being filled with regret and guilt, not able to let go of his plans for his future....until eventually he was able to come to a place of acceptance of his fate. He could accept it and he could hear the message of grace and forgiveness that his family wanted to share with him. He could make peace with God and accept that God had paid the price for him. He had been redeemed due to no effort of his own. That grace and mercy and forgiveness were there for him. They were his and he could leave this earth in peace, resting in the knowledge that it was nothing he had done, but a gift from God.
That knowledge is so comforting to me. It is so beautiful.....all of us, undeserving, not able to work hard enough to make ourselves worthy.....but God came and gave His son to pay the price for us so we could be in fellowship with Him forever. Nothing can come between us ever again. Redemption, unmerited favor is available to us all....if we can only acknowledge our need and accept the gift.
I watched the video they showed of this man's life....he started out an adorable baby, he had talents and gifts as young boy and then a man, was personable and kind, but as time went on you could see the progression. This friendly guy lived in and out of rescue missions, friends homes...but his reputation was that of a "good guy." Always there to help others, the first to start setting up tables in the park, to give up his chair, to share his food if there wasn't enough to go around. A kind soul.
The day I got to meet him was a weird fluke thing. I was picking up some Scrabble tiles from a freecycle ad to make a craft for the love gift for an Alanon speaker fundraiser. He was sitting outside the apartment complex I went to to pick them up at. Somehow we started talking and he introduced himself and I realized who it was...my friends son. I told him his mom was my dear wonderful friend who I just love so much. He said, "Oh do you go to Alanon too?" lol I said yes. He asked why I went and I told him I have a daughter whose a drug addict.....his reply was so funny. "Ohhhh thats too bad. yeah, I'm *only* an alcoholic. No drugs for me. I stay away from that stuff!" Anyway, I was so happy to meet him and I always felt like it was a God thing that in the middle of no-where I would run into him and somehow would find out his full name and then be able to share the impact his mom has had on my life.
What I saw today was real....not as in make believe or real, but real as in authentic. There was honesty in that service. Addiction and alcoholism were talked about head on. His struggles were not a secret, there was no shame, and then hope was shared with the ones in that church who were still struggling. It was so beautiful and I was so touched by the honesty I got to witness today.
My friends son was broken but he was forgiven. He got to tie up his loose ends and he and his family are at peace with the resolution. They feel loss, but they feel peace.
Bless us all with the courage to face our reality and not hide from it.