I went to another AA meeting last week. The last one I’d been to was about 25 years ago and I barely remember it. It was a similar circumstance though: I’d been invited by a friend who’s been doing the program. He was celebrating a year of sobriety and there were several others who were celebrating milestones as well. One woman was celebrating 18 years – 18 years - of doing, as they say, the next right thing. It’s more than a little humbling to witness that kind of commitment when sometimes I feel like I can’t even do the next right thing until bedtime.
After all the celebrants were honored, a woman came up to tell her story. I was happy to see my friend get his sobriety coin, but as far as I was concerned, this was the main event.
The woman told a story that was by turns horrifying, hilarious and astounding. She had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 14 and her life just got worse from there. She did beat that cancer, and eventually got sober, but she could never have children. Then, through the miracle of surrender, she had been in the hospital 8 or 10 years ago for yet another procedure when a nurse came to her bed and told her of a couple in the hospital who had just given birth and were looking right this minute for an adoptive mother. As the woman later told her husband, “Honey, you might be the only man in the world whose wife goes into the hospital for a colonoscopy and comes out with a baby.”
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that the next part of her story eludes me. The part where she had another tragic health crisis and she needed to recuperate for 2-3 months. By this time she had adopted another child, so she now has a husband and two small children to care for. “I didn’t do a thing,” she said. “My AA Group found out what had happened and from that point on everything in my household was handled. Someone figured out a schedule and meals were cooked, kids were taken care of. All I did was get better.”
This is why I love AA. And why I secretly want to be in AA. Weight Watchers meetings are helpful – even inspiring sometimes. But they will always lack the kind of intimate confessions and interpersonal devotion I so crave in a support group.
When the woman was through with her story, I wanted to go up to the mic and say, “I’m Jessica, and although I’m not an alcoholic, I have a totally addictive personality and a lot of mental problems.” And my wish was, at that point they would say “Hi, Jessica!” and, just on the basis of chocolate chip cookie addiction alone, welcome me into their deep, bosomy, smoke-infested fray.