Tuesday, February 19, 2008


As you change your negatives to positives -- fear to faith; contempt for what he does to respect for the potential within him; rejection to release with love...you change the world about you and all the people in your world for the better.
-"Helping" by the Nar-Anon Family Groups

I'd been meaning to say more about the death of the Stray, and I'd been spinning my wheels a bit about what I wanted to say. Someone got me started, though, tonight when I got a message asking me if I felt any guilt. The message was very kind; there was no insinuation that I should feel guilty about his death...just an inquiry whether or not I was struggling with my own role in the situation.

And the answer is that I'm ok with what happened. My husband is struggling with guilt. He says that the Stray wanted them to get better together, but that my husband refused him, again and again. He wasn't ready, and he's wishing he'd tried to help himself and help his friend.

I, on the other hand, feel awful for what happened to our friend, but I don't feel guilty. I offered the kid a place to stay and helped him through some rough times, and when his addiction started affecting my serenity, I asked him to leave. It was something like practice for my program...the idea of releasing someone with love, letting him go out and find his bottom so that he could find a way to get better.

The Stray, unfortunately, didn't find his bottom quickly enough. I wish he had. I wish he'd found help.

And it's my recovery that's keeping me from taking on his death as my own doing. It's my recovery that keeps me seeing that there is nothing I could have done or said that would have changed what happened to our friend. It's my recovery that keeps me aware of the truth: I couldn't feel his pain for him, and I couldn't will him to stop drinking. I couldn't will him not to use with my husband, not to steal from me, not to make my home feel unsafe. It's my program that's making me proud of taking care of myself instead of wallowing in guilt for not taking on the impossible task of taking care of someone else.

I wrote here over the summer mostly about how he was driving me kind of nuts, stealing from my home, drinking himself into a stupor and getting aggressive. I didn't write as much about the things about him that were truly lovable. He was a big guy with wonderful, warm brown eyes. He was bizarre and funny and had a way of saying the most absurd things that would converge in this perfect way between sense and nonsense, and I loved that about him. He liked books, too. Not many of my husband's friends are as excited about books and poetry as I am, so it was always fun to talk to him about books. He'd go through my shelves and borrow things and ask me to recommend good stuff to him, and I enjoyed picking out things I knew he'd like...weird stuff, Beatnik-y, raucous, adventurous, edgy books were usually his favorite. He was a talented artist, too, and he did most of his stuff in graffiti. It could be annoying to go anywhere with him because he'd want to stop at every gas station to tag a wall.

His death keeps making me think of that Tibetan idea of every person having a diamond hidden at the center of his or her heart...a beautiful core of something rare and precious and priceless and unique in every one of us. The Stray had his own precious light, and I'm sorry that his disease made it hard to see it towards the end. I'm sorry that his disease won the race against the beautiful, sweet, smart, funny man that he was, and the man he could have been. I'm sorry that the miracle didn't happen fast enough. I'll miss him, and I'll miss the man he could have become in recovery.

Rest in peace, my friend.