Have you encountered a person who entered your life at the right time, who helped you when you needed it most and made a major impact on you?
I had the honor of meeting a person like that. He’s name was Mike. I met him at my very first AA meeting seven years ago. I will never forget that day… I was terrified to be there, didn’t know a soul and had to admit to a group of strangers that my life was a mess and I had an alcohol problem.
Mike was the first person who greeted me. He set me at ease, explaining briefly how the meeting worked. When it came to my turn to introduce myself, I couldn’t muster a word. He gently said, “Just give your name, you don’t need to say anything more.”
I eventually found my voice uttering my name, announcing I had a desire to stop drinking. Everything thereafter was a blur until the meeting ended and Mike commented how well I’d done and he hoped to see me again. I dashed out of the meeting with no intention of returning. Surprising to me, I did return. Week after week Mike was always there to welcome me, cheering me on.
Mike and I became good friends. I was learning the 12-step program, growing in sobriety, something I never thought possible. I had a Sponsor mentoring me every step of the way and Mike was always in the wings checking if I was alright. If I couldn’t make a meeting, he’d send me message to enquire if I was okay, not because he suspected I was drinking again, but because he wanted me to know that I was special to the group, that people missed me when I wasn’t around.
When my Sponsor traveled overseas from time to time, it was Mike I confided in when something was heavy on my heart. He gave me a different perspective on life’s ups and downs; always reminding me to take things easy, to look after myself and take it one day at a time.
With every sober year I achieved at AA, it was Mike who announced how proud he was of me. How he’d watched me transform from a shy mouse into a confident woman. He loved hearing about my running, how I started swimming at age 36 and was fulfilling my writing dream.
Mike was a gentle giant with a dry sense of humor. He was a doer, making things happen in all the meetings he attended. He never said no to service, to helping others who desperately needed a hand or a friend to chat to.
When Mike fell ill with bone and lung cancer at the beginning of this year, I was devastated to hear the news. He’d lost the use of his legs and was in and out of hospitals before being sent home. I visited him many times in hospital and not once did he complain or ask, “Why me?”
He accepted the outcome. He remained positive, patient and had faith he’d recover and regain the use of his legs. Sadly Mike’s condition deteriorated over time and he passed away on 10 October 2017. Although I knew his death was inevitable, nothing prepares you when it happens.
I am heartbroken to have lost a friend like Mike. He touched my life at exactly the right moment. He was destined to play a role in my journey into sobriety. He left behind a legacy of humility, unconditional love for the AA program, set a great example of what it takes to help others and make a difference in someone’s life.
Farewell my friend <3 I will always miss you <3