Monday, September 16, 2013
The first time I met her, she had just wrested the spatula out of the hands of one of my fellow elves who was turning out sub-standard pancakes at our Christmas Toy Drive's First (and last) Annual Pancake Breakfast fundraiser. I saw her giving the pale runny discs on my griddle the evil eye.
I soon found myself out of the kitchen and waiting tables.
This was on one of my rare good days when I was neither hung-over or drunk.
The next time I met her was during one of our toy drive's bingo nights and I was drunk and in charge of making change for the players. A drunk gringo trying to make change in pesos is not a good combination. Once again, I felt her hawk eyes on me and I was soon relieved of my responsibilities.
Again, message received.
The next fall, when I was back in the states, I received a message about her from a fellow elf. She'd had a terrible fall and was in the hospital. And, "Oh by the way, you know she is an alcoholic, don't you?"
No, I didn't.
This was about two months into my "recovery" so I sent her a message. I said:
"I am like you. I am an alcoholic."
I didn't know how my message would be received.
"I am a binge drinker. I was once sober for 6 years and then one day I had a bad day at work and I decided to have a drink. I've never been able to get back for long."
We met up when I returned to Mexico. I was a newborn in my recovery, all enthusiastic and shooting rainbows out my ass. She was fresh out of the hospital, barely able to walk, sparse gray hairs sprouting from the wounds on her scalp. Her eyes were ringed with dark shadows, their depths dark and bottomless. We both swore we'd learned our lessons, we'd never drink again. I looked for the spark I felt in those blackhole eyes and couldn't find even a glimmer.
The message was drowning in those fathomless depths.
But we kept meeting, she gave me her 90 Day AA chip and I promised to give it back to her when she reached 90 again. Slowly she got stronger, slowly I saw the fire return to her eyes. Once again she brooked no argument.
But then the messages fell off, my phone calls went unanswered. When I did manage to catch up with her, she was wearing an outfit I recognized. She had wrapped that cloak back over her shoulders, the one that we alcoholics think others can't see through. A cape made of the shoddy material of flimsy excuses and threadbare lies.
Last year we sent a few emails back and forth, a few telephone calls promising to get together, but we never did. But I heard from a few people that ran into her that she looked great, better than ever, smiling more than they'd ever seen her. There were rumors of a man in her life.
This summer I saw a message on fb from her daughter that her mother had returned to the states and that all of her things, including her beloved sewing machine were for sale.
I wondered if I should send a message, but I didn't.
Last night I received a personal message from her daughter, her mother has stage 4 colon cancer and had a stroke last night. Would I pray for her?
I sent a message back. Would she please tell her mother that I remember what she said? That I still carry her message with me. That she is still helping me. The message?
"I was sober once for 6 years, then I took a drink and I have never been able to get back."
I've often asked my Co-Writer why he put her in my life if we couldn't save each other. I now know why, she is a messenger.
Please pray for my messenger.