From the July 2011 magazine.

My Heart Is Heavy

Learning of the death of a former sponsor, a woman reflects upon her early days in AA

"If she had not kindly taken the time to sit with me and listen to my Fifth Step, I would not be alive today."

A perfect stranger, whose last name I didn't know, and whom I had met in a church room, saved my life. She was raised on a plantation in Macon, Ga. with lots of crinoline, servants and opulence. I was raised in the tenements of the Bronx with lots of sadness and bad dreams. We had nothing in common. Yet, in her southern drawl, she instructed me, day after day, on how to stay sober and become a human being. She had everything I wanted: she was an artist, had children, lived in a mansion, and owned an art gallery on Main Street. But she had something I wanted even more than the yacht in her front yard: she had peace of mind. She was in AA, not around AA, and could be counted on to be in her seat at our home group. She was sober ten years when I crawled into the rooms and would sit with the other matrons of Westchester at the meeting peacefully doing needlepoint for what seemed to me like hours and hours.

As an immature and rebellious young woman, this was revolting to me, but secretly comforting. The finer things and the finer people of life were sitting right next to me ready to teach me how to live. This sponsor wasn't my first. I kept moving on to the one that could help me the most and perhaps I needed them all in just that sequence. I was so sick they had to take turns. This southern sponsor said she didn't know if we had a generation gap or if I had brain damage. I had to be taught how to communicate.

-- Snow P.

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