And now a confession:
I really don't know how to do this. I know you will want to tell me how, but I have to say that I don't think most of you know how either.
I do not know how to be sober for 25 years, 10 months and 2 weeks... and 58 and a half years old.
I do not know how to have in my life at the same time the profound grief of people I love aging and fading away - and at the same time participating in new life and growing relationships.
Yesterday I got to go swimming with my granddaughters. I got to hold the tiny body of my 6 year old granddaughter as I taught her how to float. The tiny, trusting body - as she let go in the water - and then quickly grabbed back when she realized I wasn't holding her anymore.
I got to work on a tiny, tiny hand-knit hat with tiny cable stitches for a tiny grandchild - still four months from being due. The hat is creamy off-white - since we don't even know whether it is a boy or girl. But I cannot wait to start knitting for this child - the child of my only son.
You could tell me to focus on this joy in my life, but I feel that underlying this joy is always this background grief. My peers - my friends - my lovers - my generation... they are leaving me. Many are already gone. I know I am too young to be singing this song... but it seems to be my lot anyway.
I am the youngest of five. My brothers are much older than I. I have always been comfortable with older people. I fear I have made friends with people much older than myself. I have had boyfriends much older than myself. And now they are doing what they do. Some are gone and some are going.
Yesterday I wrote "a love story," and some of you found it beautiful. I think from a distance it is beautiful. From here, it is just really, really sad. I miss him. I can't believe this tough guy, this biker, is a blind old man I am going to visit today with a pie. I am baking him a pie.
I am grateful for the deep lifelong relationships I have had in Alcoholics Anonymous. I cannot imagine walking away from Ed because I found him offensive in those early days - and believe me, he was plenty offensive. But I would have missed someone who has been a beacon of sanity in my life. He has ALWAYS been there. For 25 years, 10 months, and 2 weeks... he has been there.
Yesterday at the Saturday morning meeting, I heard that a very young woman died. I didn't know her well at all. She had 5 months of sobriety. For some newer members of that group, this is the first time they are experiencing the death of a fellow AA member. It is tough. But someone who knew her well said that her husband told her that he was so grateful to the group because the last 5 months were so happy for her. I am so grateful that God smiled on the last five months of her life and she and her family got to have that.
Last night, I got to go to night watch at the home of a fellow member of that group. It is so reassuring to see that the food is still on the table, people still line up for it and eat it, little kids still run around and get into mischief. People still like my pies. We still sit around and laugh on a hot summer night. The phone still rings because people are still calling Alcoholics Anonymous for help, and we still want to answer the call.
Life does go on and it is good.
I have two pies to bake this morning before I go visit Ed and go pick up a sponsee from the airport.
God will show me how to do this. With his Grace.