04 May Reflections on Loss in Recovery
Last week was the first time I experienced losing a friend in the program; I will call her L. L. had relapsed and died drinking alone by herself in her apartment. She was in her early 40’s. I met L. at a meeting in my second year of recovery. It was clear by her share that she was feeling very uncomfortable inside – she could barely form complete sentences, her life was a mess, she was the victim and she blamed it all on AA. I will be honest; it was probably the most uncomfortable share I had ever listened to.
She came to the next few meetings and her shares were all the same and the small resentment I had built towards her for “sharing the misery and not the message” began to fade. I started to like her craziness because I could see it in myself. I asked for her number. Over the next year I watch L. go in and out of the program but we did keep in touch. Finally about 4 months ago she started showing up at every meeting. She got a sponsor and started working steps. She started coming out to dinner with us after our Friday night women’s meeting. I would give her rides to meetings and we really began to develop a friendship.
She had changed so dramatically over the last few months, it was really awesome to watch the miracle, given so freely in this program. Unfortunately, life stepped in and L. found out she had ovarian cancer. She still kept coming to meetings, to dinner and working steps, but when I went on vacation and came back, I noticed I hadn’t seen her at the last couple meetings. Later that night I got a voicemail from her saying she wasn’t doing well, that she needed to reach out and feel connected. We played phone tag and then my messages stopped being responded to. I received a text from her phone alerting me she had passed.
That was not the text I was expecting. I found out through her sponsor that alcohol was the cause. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but that’s not the important thing. What is important to me is that in the last few months of her life, she changed dramatically. She did want a better life for herself. She did see the gifts of the program and she did try her best to stay sober and follow the principles of our steps. Not all of us make it and she will be missed but I am forever grateful to have had L. as part of my recovery.