I knew it was only a matter of time until my sobriety would be tested in the face of bad news, or a difficult situation, or a major life stress.
She has cancer, again. We met in college. We’ve been there for each other through all the milestones of life, celebrating, supporting, crying, and laughing. While we live too far from one another to just pop in for a cup of tea, when we are together it is as if no time has passed. We have been blessed with a friendship that is rooted in faith, love for one another, and the bond of sisterhood that is beyond blood.
Her daughter called me the other night. Mom has brain cancer, she whispered. In the next breath she apologized for not calling a month ago when they found out. She quietly said, I should have… I stopped her sweetly, saying, There is no ‘should have’. You are doing the best you can. You have told me when God felt it was the right time to tell me. We talked on for 45 minutes during which she filled me in on all the details and I promised to be here, and there, for her in any way she needed. Later, after we hung up, she texted me and said, Thank you, I didn’t know how much I needed that talk. I responded, God did! Someday I’ll tell you a story about why I know I was told now and not before.
We all remember the line yelled by Jack Nicolson in the movie, A Few Good Men. You can’t handle the truth! Well, God certainly knew, beyond any doubt, the old me, the drinking me, would not have been able to handle the truth of that phone call, certainly not at 7:30 pm when I’d have already been drinking. There is no way drinking me would have been able to find the right words to comfort the aching heart at the other end of the line. God knew that old me could not handle any major life stress without drowning myself into a dark cave each night, then dragging myself out in the morning to attempt to function the next day.
God knew that I could not continue to go through my life like that and He is the one who touched my heart a few weeks ago. As my friend was hearing that she has brain cancer, God said to me The time to stop is NOW. He knew I would get that phone call. He knows there will be many more difficult phone calls. As my life proceeds on, God knows I will encounter many stresses and changes that I need to face sober, and present, and clear headed.
The other night I was tested, and I passed. It was not easy, but I did it. On the spectrum of potential “bad news calls” this was a small one, painful but not immediately impactful to my actual existence the way some calls would be. I am thankful I have been given the opportunity to pass this little test without drinking before I have to answer the phone and face a bigger one.