“Our stories disclose in a general way,” we are told, “what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now.”

My family never asks why go I to meetings. Sixteen and a half years later the subject never arises. They know, intellectually, that I’m still in recovery— but to this day some don’t care, some don’t understand, and others don’t care to understand. So be it. Long ago I learned that if it works for me and it’s hurting no one, the only one who must get it is me.

Sometimes, though—

I found myself sitting… listening… wishing my child was aside me, sharing the moment. Indeed, even after 3,500 to 4,000 of these hour-long assemblies, just last week I heard three “leads” in three nights and each one I found riveting. Friends they were, speaking Friday, Saturday, Sunday—three men I’d met “in the rooms” and while through bits and pieces I’d come to know them through comments, there I sat, listening to their “stories”— glued to my seat.

Scott spoke on Friday. We’ve known each other maybe five years—
from discussion meetings. He opened with a reference to an incident from a Chanukah party and there I sat, stunned. Not that it mattered, but it never occurred to me he might be Jewish. A lot of money would have been bet the other way. I mean this guy, from khaki pants to silken shirt, smelled WASP. Trust me, he’s never perspired.

But his message was great. Rather than the typical narrative, his story, rather, highlighted different times in his life (both when out and when in), that (as he saw it), God put people in his path. “Miracles”, he called them—and they may be. I was reminded of the old Einstein quote: “There are two ways to live your life. One is as if nothing is a miracle, and the other as if everything is”. Either way, I sensed, we’re embracing gratitude.

Then came Saturday: Brother Mark. I’d heard him before, frankly—the whole Megillah. Years had passed however and I heard well his growth. I recall his earlier talks: the rancor, the venom for his ex. I wondered back then: did he know the anger is killing him? How great it was—and I told him so last week— just to hear he found peace.

“I’m still in the judgment business, Bogart,” he told me that night. (But his tone had changed. And he had. For the better).

And Sunday—end of a slow weekend I’d used to catch up—on work, on play, and on…rest.

‘Wasn’t my regular meeting that night. ‘Hadn’t been to The Marshall Group in years. Nonetheless, when a guy from Thursday asked me to chair there this June…well…it made sense to check it out.

Arriving early, no sooner had I poured my coffee than a voice came my way. Thick was the New York accent and well I knew it was John. He’d been around a while, since mid Y2K, and I don’t see him often. Here and there, Yes, but not like before. The good news was, though, that he was wearing a tie—and if you’re wearing a tie at a Sunday meeting it’s for only one reason: you’re leading.

“Are you the talent tonight?” I asked. (Of course he was).

Good sponsors will tell us “Be honest, be brief, and be seated”. Brother John touched all bases. Fact is, and my egos calling, he referenced something I’d said to him when he first got sober. Remember it I didn’t, (but it was clearly something I would have said). He used to come to Tuesday Discussion and apparently he opened up one night, expressing feelings…and after the meeting I’d approached him and said something like “Thanks for sharing your pain.” It was something — to him — that resonated.

And then we were done. With the meetings and the weekend, but not with the journey.

—Carrie sees me sometimes, not long after these stories…eyes just misty and all…

—She eyes me as I grasp the humanity of it all…they’re all happy endings…and so often it’s like the last scene of “It’s A Wonderful Life”.

And NEVER, does she ask me why … after all these years… I hit 5-6 meetings a week.

Carrie, after all, not only cares about me, and understands me— but she gets me.

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