Saturday, March 21, 2015


3/15/98 10:12 PM
it sounded very loud the phone it rang not one of those weaselly dribbling beeps but a clang like Alexander Graham Bell clambering out of the grave it was my sponsor John asking about my buddy Bill who had a heart attack last night this morning or so and is in the hospital awaiting surgery tomorrow John talked about his heart attack five years ago  and I said uh-huh over and over uh-huh but I was really thinking about this afternoon when I visited Bill and a few other people were there and we said the usual polite things and Bill’s brother Rick was cracking wise trying to lighten the mood while his sister Pat was all serious the mother figure the adult the calm eye in the storm Bill had just found out how serious his condition was and sometimes we made eye contact and I wanted to say all sorts of things to him but couldn’t ‘cause mom-Pat probably would disapprove and I wasn’t sure what was appropriate I figured family had priority so I didn’t say much and when it came time to leave I shook Bill’s hand he had to reach across the bed and the tubes and IVs and shit were dragging all entangled along his arm I was careful not to squeeze too hard didn’t want to break anything what I really wanted to do was hug him but I was afraid that would really break something important what I really wanted to do was say I love you but I didn’t out of fear and embarrassment in front of his family so I left the damn hospital thinking what if he dies what if he doesn’t make it and I didn’t say I love you because of some stupid inhibition I’d feel like shit boy that’d be awful after five years sober together the first three or so going to the same meetings over and over and talking and talking and trying to work our programs and growing and encountering all sorts of problems and trials and errors and good times and bad times but most important real times real sober and relatively sane and unsure and okay with that because we trusted God and we trusted AA and each other until it finally kicked in and we had some time under our belts and life bloomed a little and Bill got a house and a boat and fished and fucked and I went back to school and got to drive again and started working again one way or another so that we both were getting comfortable with sobriety and spirituality so how could I be ashamed to say I love you to him as I left the hospital I damn near cried not for him but for being so chickenshit I promised myself that would never happen again I’d not let another occasion like this lapse I haven’t come this far so close to someone else to not say what’s important John was still talking and then he was through and I promised to let him know when I knew anything more about Bill and after we hung up I realized I hadn’t said I love you

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