You are not Alone

by Yvonne Hickey

You are not Alone 

 

Dear Julie,

Saturday, I went running by Cardinal Lake and thought of you and your funeral the next day. It was dusk and the wind was picking up across the lake. Earlier in the day, I had some anxiety about this jobless moment in my life. I wanted to drink, and I thought about the last words you whispered in my ear a few weeks before, “You are not alone.” I knew the reality was the opposite.

I hit the play button on my cellphone and listened to the intro of my favorite song, “Fight Song.”

“This is my fight song, take back my life song, prove I’m alright song. My power’s turned on. Starting right now, I’ll be strong, I’ll play my fight song. And I don’t really care if nobody else believes ’cause I still got a lot of fight left in me.”

I have not relapsed; I am proud of that. It’s been hard; it still is, but I know I am not alone.

That night, I ran the farthest I had ever run. I am not sure if I pushed myself harder for you, or if I pushed myself harder so I wouldn’t end up like you. I feel my insides rip apart when I think like that. I just wish someone could have helped you, could have given you a “Fight Song.” The faster I ran and the more it hurt, I knew the yearning for that poison, alcohol, was exiting my body.

I understood it was not the alcohol that took you away, even though it assisted your quick exit from life. I stopped running for a moment and looked out across the lake. I watched as the wind blew the water until it seemed to be arriving on shore. As the wind blew harder, I thought perhaps it was you coming in for your service the next day.

I walked into the church Sunday afternoon, slightly frustrated at myself for never being on time, not even for your funeral. I sat down with our AA friends. The preacher was already talking. He asked everyone in the church to stand up if they had lost someone dear to them in the past. Everyone in the church stood up.

The preacher continued, “Now I want everyone to take a look at each other.” We did. I was not ready for his next comment. “You are not alone.”

“Oh Jeez,” I said out loud as I felt my stomach turn. The phrase “You are not alone” rang in my ears. Hearing it freaked me out. I could believe it was a coincidence or I could believe it was you, Julie, telling the preacher to say such a thing. I chose to believe it was you.

I believed the preacher when he said you had done every right. You could not stop drinking. That poison took you away and left a church full of tears. I didn’t think I would cry. Heck, I really didn’t know you very well; yet somehow, you touched my life when you spoke about how alcohol had invaded yours. You touched my life when you hugged me after the meeting and said, “You are not alone.”

I watched your best friend of 51 years make her way to the podium, holding tightly onto her husband’s arm. He held on to her as she spoke. I don’t remember everything she said, but her sadness, her tears, stood out. She was broken. As I listened to her share her deep pain, for the first time I did not feel panic; I felt tears, a lot of them, falling down my face. My tears were for your friend and her pain. I knew she would never be the same again.

Many said we should be happy for you, that by taking your life, you were no longer in pain. I feel okay thinking you are happy, but I am sad for those you left behind. You had a lot of people who loved you, probably more than you will ever know.

Sunday evening, I drove around Cardinal Lake. It was dark and the lights were shining on the water. There was no wind. The water was calm. I thought of you and smiled to myself as I rolled down the window. Hopefully you are happy now, and hopefully you are not alone.

I have not relapsed; I am proud of that. It’s been hard; it still is, but I know I am not alone.

Vonny Hickey is from Dublin, Ireland. She became an American citizen last year and has lived in Atlanta, Georgia, for the past 20 years. She likes to write in her spare time. In honor of her dad who suffers from vascular dementia, she hopes to write something to bring more recognition to this disease. yvonny1232@gmail.com

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