I woke up this morning and checked my e-mail first thing. I do that. I saw a name in my inbox and was immediately happy - someone I haven't heard from for a couple of weeks, as far as I know no one had. She is a chronic relapser, someone who seemingly cannot or will not get sober. She is also someone who everyone cares about. She has not managed to alienate people the way most chronic relapsers do.
But then I opened the e-mail and saw it was a letter addressed to her lawyer, her sponsor, and me. It started by saying "I have decided to take my life." Knowing her as I do, I believed her. I tried to call her but it went straight to voice mail, and a full mailbox. I e-mailed her, but that didn't feel sufficient. I had no idea where she was. It was only 5:30 in the morning. I had no idea what to do. I prayed, I cried, I pleaded with God.
I went to church as I had planned. I called my friend, her sponsor, the other recipient of the letter - but she didn't answer. Then I went to a meeting. It was my friend's 32nd birthday. 32 years of continuous sobriety. I sat down across the room from him, looked at him and started to cry. I cried through the whole meeting. I remember when he was sober ten or so years and was having a breakdown of some sort. He came to meetings and cried and since he was new to the area and we didn't know him, we thought he was a new guy and we took care of him as such. He just let us because he knew he was screwed without our help. It took a while for him to get the nerve to tell us how long he had been sober. I remember the day his son died of AIDS, and he came to the meeting. He told us that he had died. We all observed several minutes of silence - most of us crying. I remember when he had a stroke and his rehab from that. I remember his fights with people and then how they made up. The controversies. One morning when a young woman wanted to beat both of us up - we had really pissed her off! And through all of that, he stayed sober. He never took a drink. And today he got to celebrate 32 years.
After the meeting - which restored my faith in humanity and sobriety - my suicidal friend's sponsor called me back. She knew who to call to find out or be able to make an educated guess as to where the woman was. She took the action of calling 911 and getting the police to find her. I really didn't think the police would do that. They did. And thank God.
She would have died otherwise. She is now in the hospital. Her life was saved by the action of her sponsor, my friend. She is not conscious and she is on a vent, but her prognosis is good.
I pray for her every day. Along with a bunch of other people (including a blogger or two). I will continue to pray. It seems like a small thing, but it is what I can do - and I know there is power in it.
I am completely exhausted from this day. I am so sad that this beautiful woman came to this desperate decision on a beautiful Sunday morning. But I am grateful that she reached out to the right person who was able to help her. I am also grateful that she is alive because wherever there is life, there is hope.
My 32 year sober friend today told a story during the meeting. He told of 3 men who came to AA and after 3 months or so they were all three out drinking again. He ran into all three of them in different places and asked them what happened. All three of them told him that AA didn't work for them. They said they did what they were told to do. They had gotten sponsors. They came to meetings, they read the big book. My friend asked them if anyone had told them not to drink - and they looked at him with that blank look because apparently no one had. That seems silly, but maybe we don't tell people not to drink. It seems too obvious.
Hey, don't drink, OK?