Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, a 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992 when he had a year sober. He's in his 27th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he sometimes disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Sudden Passing

26 years ago last night I had a call from the hospital. The nurse was very professional and pleasant. "Your mother passed away about 15 minutes ago," she told me. It'll take us about a half hour to get her ready then you can come and visit, if you'd like," she told me.

I was in the process of preparing to spend the evening with her when the call came in. Even though she was supposed to get out of the hospital the next morning, her passing was not totally unanticipated. She suffered from emphysema, osteoporosis, plus COPD. Even though she wasn't in the best of health no one expected her to pass so suddenly.

She had entered the hospital November 1, 1994 to have a plate removed from her thigh. Years before she had broken her leg and they spliced it together with a piece of metal plating. She continually had pain from that surgery and asked me if I thought was a good idea for her to have the screw and the plate removed. I asked her what the doctor said. Would it be a dangerous procedure? How long would it take? What were the risks? She said the doctor told her it was really up to her. That it probably wasn't a dangerous procedure and that she should recover fairly rapidly. In fact it was supposed to only be a one day, outpatient procedure. However, complications arose and she spent 54 days in the hospital before she died.

Her death was a shock to me because I'd expected her to be out of the hospital the next day. As time went on, and I passed through the grieving process my pain became less. And though this may sound self-centered, the Christmas season has never been quite the same to me because it reminds me of my loss during this season of the year.

One thing I was happy about that is that she was able to see me with three years clean before she passed on. She saw me starting to succeed in life, which is the only thing she wanted.