We were friends the last few decades, lovers way back when.
1973 had been a horrible year. My father died, my house was broken into and emptied of everything of value, and I was incapable of coping. I withdrew, got into drugs, seeking oblivion, wanting to block out reality.
Autumn in Charleston, South Carolina. Days of warm perfection, nights with a chill that pinked up the cheeks. I was unmoved, dead inside. I met him at a party I did not wish to attend. He was in a room by himself, a sailor playing his trumpet to the music drifting back from the gathering. THIS was the first interesting thing in months. I was awed by the sound. His name was Mike. My brain came alive.
When he was transferred to Washington state, he asked me to come with him. I abandoned my former life and moved west. I was nineteen. But love does not conquer all, and some people aren’t meant to be more than friends. One year of living with a trumpet-playing sailor was quite sufficient, and I moved on.
Decades later, here comes the Internet, that informational highway. We got back in touch. Both of us were domesticated by then; we sent pictures, music, memes, jokes. Life goes on. In 2014 I was vacationing in St Petersburg Florida and decided to go see Mike in Jacksonville. I hadn’t yet heard of CoDA, but I was determined to make amends. We had a great day, lunched on fantastic Mexican food, and talked for hours. He asked why I’d wanted to meet in person, a five-hour train trip from Tampa-St Pete. I told him “We treated each other like crap, and I wanted to apologize for MY end of it.” When he drove me back to my hotel and it was time to go, I called him back to me and kissed him. “Bye” I whispered. He smiled.
Three nights ago, I saw a post on social media. “From the family of…” and I knew. I knew the official Navy portrait, the photos in “A Life Remembered.” Mike was gone.
And I was so grateful I had listened to myself and taken that side trip to Jacksonville. So happy we’d had that day of eating too much and talking too much. So glad I’d kissed him goodbye. So very glad I’d made amends. It’s hard enough to say goodbye without also having regrets.
Now, nine years later and with over six years in CoDA, I feel blessed I’d had the presence of mind to take that train trip. Or, was it a nudge from my Higher Power?
One year after Mike’s death, I continue to cherish the memory of that day in February of 2014. Knowing I had apologized for the cruel words and actions of my youth, I now view making amends as a freedom. A way to correct past mistakes, to right some of the wrongs.
CoDA’s Twelve Promises tell me “I know a new freedom” (#3), and “I learn that it is possible for me to mend” (#8). However, my favorite remains #12: “I gradually experience serenity, strength, and spiritual growth in my daily life.”
Dena F. 4/23/2023