From the September 2013 magazine.

September 2013: Aunt Vida

A beloved relative becomes her hero—for the second time

Long before I came into the rooms of AA—in fact, long before I started drinking alcoholically—I was in another Twelve Step fellowship. I hoped I might skip over the “God” Steps, but my sponsor wouldn’t let me. As we broached the Second and Third Steps, she suggested I start praying. I didn’t see the point since I didn’t believe that God or a Higher Power or a creative intelligence had any interest in me. The feeling was mutual. God never answered my prayers, he had abandoned me, taken away people I cared about and left behind a few who I wished he hadn’t. I was angry with God. So why should I believe? Now I realize that you can’t be angry at something you don’t believe exists. Nevertheless, it was clear that my sponsor wasn’t going to let me skip the whole “God thing.”

She gave me a pretty simple assignment: pray—anywhere, anytime—to whatever power might be out there. It didn’t matter if I believed. She told me to pray to anything—a doorknob, a tree or even her dog. “OK,” I said, with reluctance and a touch of sarcasm. I was in college at the time and had to get something from the campus bookstore, so I pulled into the parking lot, parked in front of a tree, turned off my car and started to talk to my Aunt Vida. When she was alive she was my hero and my champion, but she became my guardian angel when breast cancer stole her life, leaving behind three small children. Put another check in the atheism column.

-- Dani A.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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