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All that Remains

He stayed sober through a year of great losses

Towards the end of my drinking, my marriage wasn't working out, and my mother had just bought an old farm in Southern Quebec, and had asked if I could come and help out designing and rebuilding it. So, I left my family behind in the Toronto area, and worked on the house over the course of a summer, occasionally bringing my kids to come stay with me.

My mother's new boyfriend, and eventually common law husband, was an old drinking buddy of mine, and it just so happened, that he had reached the doors of AA, and was showing signs of a better life than I was having. Even though I still got along with him, I resented him.

Then one day, at a family gathering, he and I got into an argument which led to me punching him in the face. The altercation eventually escalated to an argument with my mother. She told me to leave her home for good.

I became even more enraged, and felt horribly hurt by what I perceived as rejection and abandonment by my own mother. I refused to speak with her for over 10 years afterwards.

I spent years in therapy, and wrote about this in a Fourth Step I did. Most importantly, I prayed. When I had been in the program about 10 years, I met a fellow AA who would become instrumental in helping to heal this old fracture.

What I didn't know until over five years later, was that my mother had cancer, and had been in remission on and off. In January 2006, I left my sister's home, in an ambulance bringing my mother directly to the cancer clinic at the general hospital.

I visited her almost every day for the next two months. One evening, about a week before she went into a coma, as I was just sitting by myself beside her bed talking, a wave of remorse and regret filled my heart. I realized I owed her an amends.

I started by telling her that I was sorry for how I treated her in those years, and asked her for forgiveness. I had blamed her for all sorts of things that had happened in my childhood. I told her that I no longer did.

She began crying and I crawled halfway up on her bed. I cried for the first time in 20 years. I'm still crying. Tears roll down my face as I write this.

In the following weeks, she became less and less coherent. She dwindled away. Hers was a frail body with yet a soul in it. I felt completely powerless. I continued to visit and sit at her bedside. I did the one thing I was taught to do – I prayed.

When I could no longer carry on a conversation with her, I read to her and held her hand. Sometimes I read to her from the Big Book. My mother passed away on February 28 that year. The next month, I celebrated 15 years sober at my home group with my AA family.

The very next month, my sponsor of 15 years who was like a father figure to me, died of a stroke. The rest of the year was almost like a blur. I want to many, many meetings. I stayed sober a day at a time --because that's all there was left for me to do.

—Derek R., Kanata, Ontario, Canada

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