Pivotal Moments in Time

I hope that for the rest of your life, every night that you close your eyes, that you see my sons dead body in front of you …

It was April of 1993.

It was the Best of Times, it was the Worst of times.

Little did I know, on one particular day, how bad things could get. What I did not know then, was that things would get progressively worse, and almost take me down with it.

We had worked a fortnight, building the bar from the ground up. I did not sleep, for many hours, during the build period. And it was with great pride and respect, to my fellow men, that the bar opened with great fan fare at the beginning of April 1993. I bar tended that night. And made a ton of money.

The following Sunday, I was at my day job, I still had a day job then. It was a normal day, so I thought, until my mother called me. Which was totally out of character for her, because we had a love hate relationship. She asked me if I had seen James at all, which I replied … NO.

She then offered that his mother had called MY Mother, telling her that James was missing and that I needed to find him.

I met James in a bar one night, and we hit it off. Life, as a young alcoholic who was drinking to be seen, made being seen, a priority. And while it lasted, I took advantage of every moment that I was being seen. I did not know that James was a serial LIAR, and that he would end up being the most irresponsible, deceptive and secretive man I had ever met.

He strung a series of lies together, and disappeared for days, weeks, and months at a time, without a word. He cheated behind my back, and never amended his behavior.

But what stung the most was his most dastardly act.

We had not been together for some time, by the time my mother made that call, that Sunday afternoon, about him being missing.

I would eventually quit my day job, opting to work full time at the bar, in the ensuing days. I sent word out that James was missing, and nobody had any idea where he was. Six days later, it was the cops who found him.

I got a call that morning, by the Fort Lauderdale Police, that James’s body had been found, in an apartment on the outskirts of Fort Lauderdale. It was a nondescript apartment complex, I had never visited before.

A detective met me at my car, and asked me to sit in his cruiser with him, while the coroner did his job. It was hours, before they released me. James was dead. How and why he died, I would not know for some time, the answers came in stages.

The next day, I received a call from the coroners office, asking me to come to the morgue and identify what was left of James. I remember it clearly, as if it were yesterday. Because of the curse his mother uttered to me, after I had done, what I had to do.

I walked into the hallway of the building, an exam room to the left and one to the right. It was hazy, because I was sobbing.

The coroner slid back the curtain, and I could see James, stuck amid a scream, plainly etched on what was left of his face. He was still wearing jewelry I had given him. It only lasted a couple of minutes. I made the positive ID and was stuck in place, as I sobbed uncontrollably. It was the most piteous of sobbing. I just could not contain myself.

James was gone. I had just signed the papers to ship his body home to his family. I called to tell them that he was on his way home, wherein his mother laid out that curse, that reverberates in the back of my brain.

To This Very Night …

I tell you this story, because it was a pivotal moment in my life, a year before I had my last drink. The first time.

I left the coroners office and headed for the bar, where I was employed full time now. I cried all the way there, and then some more.

I drank enough liquor that night to kill an elephant. That was just the beginning…

A week would go by, and I was inconsolable. Todd and Bill knew they had to do something, because I was drinking way too much. Their first attempt to help me, was to get me into therapy. So I sat for weeks and weeks, in a Survivors of Suicide Therapy group.

Every night, the same stories. Mothers, Fathers, Brothers, and Sisters, telling the same stories of how their respective family members had killed themselves.

Do you think that stemmed my drinking ???

Not One Bit !!!

At one point, my after hours drinking, became, sitting in a bar at Seven in the Morning … I crossed that invisible line I drew for myself. Because I realized that I had begun drinking in the morning. Which was a harbinger of really bad things to come.

It was on one of those Seven AM Drinking sprees, that was my death knell. I know, well, I did not know, or want to know the ramifications of my personal behavior.

But my alcoholism was always tied, inextricably to SEX.

When someone you trust tells you that to become “ONE OF,” and the only way to become ONE OF, was to go to the bar and drink. Alcoholism was just waiting for me, the very first day I was let out of the chute.

It was only a few number of years, before I crossed that invisible line in “alcoholic” behavior. From twenty One to Twenty Five I was an uncontrollable alcoholic, but nobody ever said the word STOP.

Alcoholics have certain parameters we use to judge how BAD our drinking would get. Drinking in the morning is one of them. There is a fine line there, between nightly drinking, and drinking in the morning.

I NEVER drank in the morning. I never had liquor in any home I ever lived in. I always had to go out to get it.

A year would pass.

I sat in that therapy room for months, listening to the same odd stories of death and loss, and that only made me drink MORE.

Until the night that TODD SAID STOP…

He was through watching me drinking myself into the ground. The month before I got sober, July of 1994, I was diagnosed with AIDS. And NOW, I was drinking to kill myself. I was not going to go down in misery, like MANY of my friends had sunken into and died. Alone …

I hit my first meeting. And I stayed sober for four years, because Todd swore that he would never let me die. In that he succeeded.

But the Alcoholic Will Drink Again …

Alcoholics Anonymous is not perfect. And alcoholics are imperfect as well. But an alcoholic TODAY, would never tell someone, sitting in a meeting to GO AWAY and NEVER COME BACK ! Because if you misspeak and say something crass or irresponsible, you might just sign someone’s death certificate.

My eighteen month slip was long and arduous. But I made it back, thank God. Times have changed. And I am still sober today.

I heard a suicide story tonight. And clearly, I identified. I was right back there, standing in the coroners office. And said as much to our speaker after the meeting.

There are pivotal moments in our lives when SHIT HAPPENS.

Some people make it, many others DO NOT.

Like we heard tonight, you know something is wrong, when you STOP going to meetings. And the committee in your head starts to speak in whispers.

That glass of wine, isn’t a slip.
You’re not an alcoholic.
Nobody will know.

Suffering tragic loss, in any form is devastating. Sometimes you just cannot drag yourself back from the brink of death. Or another drink …

Then again, The Grace of God can be miraculous.

Sometimes getting out of hell, needs a little miracle, to jump start the process of healing and sobriety.

I know few people in this place, whose miracle came, not a minute too soon, for us. And I stand with my friend tonight, speaking words of truth when we both can say, that the second time around is NOT a cake walk.

The first time is a gift, the second time, you have to work for it.

I was telling a friend of mine, before tonight’s meeting, that not a whole lot of people, like or even respect my sober journey. Most people think I am a little off base and crazy. But I told him how I operated. It was his choice to either take what I offered him or throw it into the dustbin of pointless conversations.

There are no pointless conversations in sobriety. Because you never know when something you say will impact someone in a way you never expected. And my friend said to me that he knows, for sure, that there are specific young people, who heard me speak words to them, and because of those words, those young people are still sober today.

Because of one act of kindness in a time of intense need.

Suicide is a serious issue. You never know when shit will happen. We just need to be present and listen intently to our friends, and know, for certain, that the time to act is NOW, and not LATER.

There is help out there. If you ever think that the end is better than perseverance though pain, to get to the other side,

THERE IS HELP.

MAKE THE CALL.

You are Not Alone !!!


Thursday: The Depths of Sadness

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When Father Mark Brian, arrived at Kingcome Village, on the Up Coast of British Columbia, and met the indigenous population that lived there, he did not know, what he did not know, until he learned what he did not know, until he learned it.

One of those “things” he did not know, at first, is why, every time he looked at one of his “people” because they were his people, the sheep in his flock, there was no pretension about him, no ego to boost, no needs to be filled, he had to “come to know them,” as they were, as God would have had it, all along, that one thing was “The Depth of Sadness” that was in the eyes of all the Indians of Kingcome Village.

If you have never read Margaret Craven’s, I Heard the Owl Call My Name, I highly recommend you find a copy.

Tonight, I heard one of our women speak, for the first time, in our meeting. She has been sober a long time, almost twenty-five years. She came in, in her twenties, but the road to sobriety was LONG and ARDUOUS.

In the beginning we all laughed with her. Midway into the story, I stopped breathing. I could not take a breath, for the life of me. I was sitting on the edge of my chair, holding my breath, just waiting for the miracle to take place.

Because she really needed a miracle.

When we begin to drink, we do not know what we do not know. If we continue to drink and add drugs to that mix, there is certainly, MORE, that we do not know.

Not listening to warnings, or following rules, and doing everything that one can to circumvent the rule of good, sane, human behavior, is going to lead us into a jackpot that can’t possibly be escaped.

Bad friends, Bad boys, illicit behavior, drugs and alcohol do not have very good endings. I know this, from my own personal experience.

My friend tonight, had the jackpot of everything that was bad, in her life. Because she did not know, what she did not know.

We do stupid things in our youth, and many, do not survive their mistakes. I did stupid things in my youth, to Todd’s credit, and by the Grace of God, I did survive my past.

When a bad boy, becomes a bad marriage, what is the logical ending of this very bad scenario ? A BABY WILL MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER …

Hell, let’s keep drinking and drugging, have one healthy baby, born without a problem, and let’s add another baby …

Bring into this really serious bad situation, a couple of attempts to sober up, that fail, and four months into a second pregnancy, the husband activates an intervention.

Mom is now CIRCLING the DRAIN …

What, I don’t have a problem. IT’S ALL HIS FAULT …

Can you see where this is going ?

Pregnant, addicted and insane, people begin to PRAY for her second baby to be born healthy. Mom cannot, for the life of her, understand WHY her friends are praying for her baby, because in her words, She Did Not Have a Problem …

Luckily, amid this point she hits rehab, again. And walks through the doors, only to turn around and say to us, “Don’t you know who I am ?”

  • I don’t do rules
  • I don’t pay bills
  • I don’t pay rent, and I sure as shit
  • DON’T TAKE THE BUS …

How do you imagine this is going to end ? Not well, as I was hearing this story.

Still sitting on the edge of my chair, and not breathing, I had not noticed I was holding my breath, until the Miracle happened.

The right woman walked into our woman’s life and took her in, homeless, hungry, drunk and high, void of emotion, having lost her husband AND her children, she had no place to go.

My friend learned about rules, via the suggestions. She learned how to pay bills, by attaining welfare, thereby being able to pay her rent, TO this SOBER Woman. And she went to meetings.

Her sponsor told her to hit ninety in ninety. And better yet, take a newcomer chip every day for the first thirty days.

Back in the day … Her day, and back in my day … when we got sober, suggestions were not suggestions, per se, they were life savers. You either did them or you didn’t, because if you did not do as you were told, sobriety would never happen for us hard-headed, arrogant, entitled men and women some of us are, when we came into the rooms.

Newcomers today scoff every time we mention suggestions to them. They would rather eat dirt, then put forth the energy and commitment to the work sobriety entails, if you really want Top Drawer Sobriety.

The Miracle began to happen.

My friend did exactly what she was told to do, like I did, what I was told to do, from the very first day. Next April, by the grace of God, she will hit Twenty Five Years Clean and Sober.

Her kids, now in their twenties, never saw mom drunk. They were too young when she finally took her last drink. One of her sons, recently, asked mom to accompany him to pick out an engagement ring for his now fiancee …

Most women, in the rooms, could not possibly get how incredible this little act is, unless you have kids, that you were able to keep, having not lost them, indefinitely, due to your alcoholism and drug addiction.

Most of the women I know, lost big, having lost those miracles we call children.

But our woman, tonight, has the husband, who was there at the intervention, and she has her kids, THREE KIDS, now in their twenties, in tact.

Happy, Joyous and Free.

As she closed her share, I remembered to breathe. And I noticed my friends sitting to my right hand side, had also stopped breathing at some point.

I knew, for the very first time, in all my years of sobriety, those words that Mark Brian had to figure out for himself …

The Depths of Sadness, in his people’s eyes.

What he did not know, is what we all do not know, when we come in, until we hear another drunk, tell their story to us.

The Depth of Sadness …

Thank God for the rooms, and SOME of the people in them.

Downie takes to Parliament Hill to speak out for Canada’s Indigenous Peoples

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Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, July 2, 2017 6:57PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, July 2, 2017 8:23PM EDT

OTTAWA — Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie made a rare public appearance Sunday to bring attention to the ongoing plight of some of Canada’s young indigenous people, likening it to the same kind of pain young people suffered in the now defunct residential schools.

He told young people gathered at festivities surrounding “We Day,” the movement inspired by children’s rights activist brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger, that they can learn a lot about the history of government-funded, church-run residential schools, where indigenous children endured widespread sexual, emotional and physical abuse.

Standing on the stage set up on Parliament Hill for Canada Day weekend, Downie said that indigenous children in parts of Canada still must travel great distances to go to school, likening it to “the pain, the torture and the death,” suffered in the residential schools.

Indigenous leaders say children regularly leave to the nearest urban centre to get education and health care services not offered in remote communities. There have been cases where the young people have died because get caught up in risky behaviour because they lack community supports.

“It is still happening even though the residential school has gone away. Kids are still having to travel great distances to live and go to school,” Downie said, with silence filling the pauses between his words.

Downie is suffering from an incurable form of brain cancer and makes few public appearances, but has used those to be a voice for the country’s indigenous peoples and the harm caused by the residential school system.

One day after the country marked 150 years, Downie used his brief time on stage to speak about the “new” country that would be born in the next 150 years.

“Yours is the first generation in the new and real Canada. I love you,” he said to applause.

“You and yours, the indigenous, together will make this a true country now, one true to your word. The new 150 years, not the old one. The new one. Exciting and true.”

The path to reconciliation was a key theme of the Canada Day weekend in the nation’s capital, which saw a group of indigenous activists erect a demonstration teepee on Parliament Hill as part of what they called a “reoccupation” to bring attention to the history of indigenous people. It was removed on Sunday.

The federal Liberals have been the focus of political heat over the party’s sweeping promises to First Nations, amid increasing pressure to comply with a human rights tribunal’s order to properly fund First Nations child welfare services.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Downie and those in attendance that Canadians and their government must accept responsibility for “our failings” as the country tries to help victims and their families heal decades-old wounds.

“Gord, your work is a powerful reminder of all that still needs to be done to acknowledge one of the darkest chapters in our history and make things right with Canada’s First Nations, Metis Nation, and Inuit peoples.”

After Trudeau spoke, a school choir performed Downie’s song “The Stranger,” the lead track off his solo album Secret Path that tells the story of 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack. Wenjack died in 1966 after running away from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora, Ont.

Downie had previously performed the song at a “We Day” event in Toronto in October. This time, he stood to the side, appearing emotional at times, and tipping his hat to the choir when they all donned sparkling purple hats similar to the one Downie wore during the Hip’s last tour last year.

As the choir walked off the stage, Downie shook the singers’ hands and thanked them.

Wednesday: Ready to Rock and Roll

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The sun is shining. The city has been basking in Summer like weather for the past couple of days. Days of sun, are going to turn into days of rain tomorrow, and on through Monday and Tuesday. UGH !

Tuesday and Wednesday are my off days. Off days, are reserved for chores, laundry and cleaning. Yesterday I cranked all morning to get all my chores done, so that I had the rest of the day to sleep.

It pays to have the BED of DEATH …

Once you lay down, there is no getting up, it’s so GOOD.

Recent New Updates

I am so very tired of politics on the telly.

I’ve changed up my home page to the BBC a while back, so as to change the messaging coming at me on a daily basis. I am more interested in what is going on overseas, than I am in what is going on down South.

Any senseless killing of any innocent is a tragedy. The killing of innocent young people is abominable. There is no joy, blessing or eternal inheritance when you kill innocents.

If you kill an innocent, there won’t be 72 virgins waiting for you on the other side.

PERIOD !

We are reminded, once again, to be VIGILANT, where ever we live. Be mindful of your surroundings. Be mindful of your fellows in public places, and most especially on the TUBE or the METRO, BUS or any other public transportation.

You are the best eyes law enforcement has, on the ground, in real time.

You might be cranking your tunes on your head set, Just pay attention to what is going on around you, as concert and events begin to crank up for the season.

If you see something strange, SPEAK UP.

If you see someone strange, PAY ATTENTION.

No city is totally guaranteed safe. Those fuckers always find a way to undermine our security. Go about your daily life, just a little more VIGILANTLY.

This afternoon I sat with my new sponsor to go over my script for tomorrow night’s meeting. I am speaking.

We are Ready to Rock and Roll people.

It is going to be great.

Tuesday: Sorrow in Manchester

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Last night, as I arrived at home, I learned of the great tragedy that struck the city of Manchester. The tragedy of terrorism is abhorrent, when it is visited upon defenseless young people, the tragedy is only magnified times ten.

It has been said that Terrorism’s greatest effect is when it is visited upon young people. And we have seen this kind of tragedy before, namely in Orlando last Summer, and many locations in Europe and beyond.

It pains me greatly, when the victims of such tragedy is visited upon young people, because, in that actions an entire generation of bright minds and souls are snuffed out indiscriminately.

There are no words I can speak, that will console or make this better, other to say that my heart is broken, once again.

The loss of ANY life is devastating. The loss of young life is unconscionable.

Eternal rest, to those young people, and may perpetual light shine upon them.

My heart is broken and we are all shattered over this senseless crime of terror.

Wednesday: Tragedy, Sorrow, Prayers

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Today, in the world, these tragedies have taken place.

France was plunged into mourning and national outrage Monday by the terrorist-style killings of three young children and a rabbi as they gathered for classes at a Jewish school in a quiet residential neighborhood of Toulouse.The lone gunman rode up on a motor scooter and opened fire with two pistols, first shooting at a group of waiting children outside the school and then following some of them into a courtyard as they ran for safety toward the building, a local prosecutor, Michel Valet, told reporters. In addition to the four people killed, six students were wounded, including a 17-year-old boy reported to be in serious condition at a Toulouse hospital.

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Published Wednesday, March 22, 2017 10:55AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 22, 2017 4:14PM EDT
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LONDON — A knife-wielding man went on a deadly rampage at the heart of Britain’s seat of power Wednesday, mowing down pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge before stabbing an armed police officer to death inside the gates of Parliament. Four people were killed, including the attacker, and about 20 others were injured.

Lawmakers, lords, staff and visitors were locked down as the man was shot by police within the perimeter of Parliament and just yards (meters) from entrances to the building itself. He died, as did two pedestrians on the bridge, and the police officer.

Our Thoughts and Prayers for those killed in these senseless Terror Attacks, and for those who are injured, their families and friends, citizens and faithful peoples.

O G‑d, full of compassion, Who dwells on high, grant true rest upon the wings of the Shechinah (Divine Presence), in the exalted spheres of the holy and pure, who shine as the resplendence of the firmament, to the soul of those who have gone to their [supernal] world, for charity has been donated in remembrance of their souls; may Their place of rest be in Gan Eden. Therefore, may the All-Merciful One shelter them with the cover of His wings forever, and bind their souls in the bond of life. The Lord is their heritage; may they rest in his resting-place in peace; and let us say: Amen.

 

 

 

September 11 – We are Born to Mourn

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Fifteen years have passed, since the day the earth shifted on its axis, and in certain ways, the world, “our world” changed, and would never be the same ever again.

When I was a young man, I spent time in New York City. I visited the Twin Towers, so I was familiar with the layout of the land and the buildings.

That Tuesday morning, it was quite early, I was still in bed. My phone rang, and it was my friend Ricky on the other end. He said “You need to turn on the tv, something is happening, and I’m not quite sure what it is.”

I turned on the tv, and watched the second plane hit the building. I watched the buildings burn, like everyone else did. Then I watched them fall to the ground.

When the air plane hit the Pentagon, the only thought on my mind was my brother’s life, because I knew he might be in that building. I called my mother, whom was not speaking to me, nor was my brother, speaking to me either. I asked her where Kenny was.

She did not answer me, and then hung up on me.

I called several more times, when she finally assented to telling me he was not in Washington at the time of the attack. At least my brother was out of harms way.

I chose not to open the store that day, and I would not open the store for a number of days in the end.

I turned to ABC News and the wisdom and guidance of Peter Jennings. If any one had the power to guide, He would. That began several days of 24 hour ABC news hosted by Peter Jennings. I emailed the news station and got Peter’s On Air Email Address, and I was writing to him back and forth.

One night in particular, Peter was looking very haggard, all suited up and tightly wound. So I wrote him a note, and said …

Peter, you seem a bit wound up. Why don’t you loosen your tie and shirt and relax a bit. A few seconds later, I watched him loosen his tie and shirt.

September 11th, took its toll on Peter, and eventually killed him, because he picked up smoking and that smoking killed him.

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Do we ever get a break from memory, from reliving the past, or from mourning ? No, we don’t.Ever !!! From the earliest days in school, we are taught all those stories of those who came before, and the many that sacrificed their lives to give us the freedoms we enjoy to this day.

We are always mourning an Event, A Human Being, A Time, A Place, a War, A Shooting, Buildings Falling, the list just goes on and on.

I wonder, if there are some out there, who are just tired of mourning.

We owe eternal debts of gratitude for family that went before us, for soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. For those who were killed unjustly, for those who were slaughtered by terrorists who only want to kill the infidel.

We mourn the loss of children shot up in a school, people shot up in public places, and those fifty young people gunned down in a nightclub in Orlando.

Today we remember and mourn all those souls who went to their deaths on air planes plunged into The World Trade Center buildings, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville Pennsylvania.

We mourn the first responder’s who climbed the buildings trying to save peoples lives, and in turn lost their own in the process. For all those who were killed in those buildings in New York City, the Towers, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. Thousands of lives lost because of deranged and sinister terrorists.

For days and days, Miami Beach was comatose. The bars and clubs had closed, and we entered 14 days of mourning. I sat in an internet cafe, where the owner gave me free air time every night, to surf, to try to help in some way. I did that night after night.

At dusk, we brought candles to the beach and lit them so satellites could take our pictures from space, and be published for maximum consumption.

There was no partying, no liquor, no nothing. We mourned because that is what everyone else was doing. I was stone cold sober.

Fourteen days later the bars opened and they began to have matching funds Fund Raisers, where if we donated money, we could drink the same for free.

Over the next three months, we drank all the alcohol that was available in a 5o mile radius of the city. We were drunk for months.

The rest is history. A few days before December 9th, 2001, I had had my last drink. Troy took me to my Next First Meeting.On December 9th. My sobriety Anniversary.

And by the grace of God, I haven’t desired a drink since.

We Remember …