Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 900-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 30th year of recovery.

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

Monday, December 23, 2019

Christmas Sadness

One of the things we learn in recovery is that life is a series of ups and downs.  And the 12-steps teach us - if we use the tools - how to handle the roller coasters of life without having to resort to  drugs and alcohol once again.

This is always a rough time of year for me because my mother died on Christmas Eve 25 years ago. 
Her death was unexpected, even though she'd been in the hospital for 54 days.  She'd entered the hospital for a one-day procedure to have a pin removed from her thighbone which had been put in years earlier when she broke her leg.  The doctors figured the bone had healed well enough that they could remove the pin and relieve her of her pain.

It was supposed to be a simple procedure, but they ended up keeping her overnight for observation.  To make a long story short, the operation didn't go well and she developed complications that put her in a coma from which she eventually emerged.  The doctors had to put in a new pin and she required extensive rehabilitation to get back to normal.

Finally, she was scheduled to return home on Christmas Day and my brother and I were looking forward to her release from the hospital.

On Christmas Eve I had just left work and was preparing to visit her when I got a call from the hospital.  The nurse told me that my mother had died 15 minutes earlier.  She explained that she'd suffered a pulmonary embolism - a form of blood clot in her lungs which killed her almost instantly.

Of course, I was in temporary shock because she seemed so healthy when I'd visited her the evening before.  That she wouldn't come home was the last thing on my mind.

Regardless of the years that have elapsed, memories of her passing are with me at this time of year.  I long ago accepted her passing as a natural part of life but her memory is still with me this time of year.

She was a wonderful example for me and taught me much.  She was proud of me for having been clean for nearly three years at the time of her passing.  And for that I thank Alcoholics Anonymous.

Click here to email John