(Photo: “I know a new sense of belonging. The feeling of emptiness and loneliness will disappear…”)
Dear John C.,
We missed you on Tuesday night. When I got to the meeting, right on time at 7:30, no one was there. I thought I would have seen your new car in the parking lot. Last week you were proudly showing it off. A rolling paradise of air conditioning and lumbar support, you said it was evidence of the care you were finally able to give yourself. Even I congratulated you.
I got a call from J. after I left the empty meeting space, just as the Green Line was pulling into Austin. She and a newcomer were there now, and they didn’t know how to run the meeting on their own. They called you, first, of course. I guess we’ve all come to rely on you too much. Always there early every week, setting up the room, running the meeting. Smiling.
It’s not just that any one of us can’t run the meeting. But the compassionate, unconditionally loving way with in which you do it has made our group uncommonly welcoming and supportive.
It made a difference for me. When I first came to Codependents Anonymous last year, I was terrified to be there. I knew my life had become unmanageable, but, like coming out as a gay youth when I was 16, although I knew the label fit, it was a scary thing to pin it publicly to my chest.
You shook my hand and talked me down from my personal ledge that day. You shared your step-one story with me. And after the meeting, you talked with me, hugged me, and told me that you would be there for me. And when I left the group for a few months, my decision to come back was made knowing that you would be there to welcome me again.
It’s a story that any one of us could tell. Most of us did not know you personally. Yet, we came to love you, and treasure your presence every Tuesday.
You didn’t answer your phone, so J. called me, and I came back and ran a late meeting. You know how nervous I am when I run them. Every word I read in the welcome, every one of the promises, I heard your voice in my head. When I shared my step-one story with our newcomer, I could not help but think of yours, which you have shared openly many times.
Late last night, J. called me at home with the news. We’re going to drive to the wake together. You helped save our lives, but in the end we couldn’t help you save yours. They say you called 911 so that your family wouldn’t have to find you with the gun still in your hand.
Let no one say that codependence is not a real thing. A deep and damaging, potentially deadly thing. From your loving, positive nature, we just never knew the torture that must have been going on inside. God, I wish we had.
I will miss you on Tuesday night. I hope you know how important you were to all of us. Most of all, I hope you know how grateful I am that you were there for me. I am here now because of you. Thank you, John C.
I wish you were here, too.
Michael Thaddeus Doyle
I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.