Last week I made a flying trip into Walmart while my husband waited in the parking lot, and ran into someone working there whom I hadn’t seen in a long time — a hospice volunteer I had trained a few years back who is also in recovery.
When he had applied for volunteer training I ran the customary background check and found that he had accumulated two DUI’s in the previous year, and I talked with him about it. He had separated from his wife, moved from another state, and had generally been through a lot, but was dry and working on recovery. We worked out an agreement where he could serve as a volunteer and receive community service hours toward his legal obligation. His roommate drove him everywhere, and they delivered flowers donated by local churches. They loved the interaction with patients and families and had a great time beyond delighting them with the unexpected bouquets.
I’d heard he’d suffered an appalling relapse that involved drugs and theft and serious legal consequences, and was no longer living with his friend. That morning he was arranging the shopping carts and did not notice me, but I saw a different demeanor about him, a hardness in his features that was not the person I’d last seen.
Being short for time, I rushed past him to complete my errand. On my way out I thought to myself, “I don’t have time to stop, and I really don’t want to get involved in this right now,” and headed for another exit, though it meant a longer walk to the car. Then I caught myself.
“WHOA! No matter what has happened, no matter how messy his relapse and consequences, this is a good person who is someone’s son, brother, perhaps uncle, and friend. He has a disease, and he deserves a kind word from someone who knows him.” I also thought of my own adult child challenged in recovery every day.
I turned back to the exit from which I’d entered, resolving to talk, if briefly, with a good person of true heart going through one hard time. I genuinely hoped to see him but he was not there. At least I’d tried to do the right thing for both of us.
I’d like to reference a chapter in my book that addresses addiction as a disease, but this fact runs throughout it. Our daughters and sons should not be condemned for a disease that is not who they are. They are not to be judged. They deserve to be recognized and understood and respected. This is a primary step in healing our daughters and sons — and ourselves.
Bless. — Barbara Victoria