I had a big problem. My uncle has been dying of cancer for awhile. A few weeks ago he was told he could not be treated anymore as there was no use in doing so. My father talked to me the other day and told me I should call him. The unspoken part of the conversation, which I only recognized a few minutes after I got off the phone, was that my Uncle does not have long to live (this post is not about how no one in my family ever talks directly about things, as if it might keep something bad or sad from happening if it isn’t stated).
I feel fortunate I had seen this uncle about out a month ago even though he lives hundreds of miles from me.
The next day I agonized over picking up the phone. I can’t recall the last time I called this uncle on the phone so the whole thing was strange to begin with. I of course was mightily uncomfortable with the idea of what to say to someone who is not far from death. Goodbye? Sorry? I hope your Ok? I talked to my fiancee about my dilemma. I was fishing for someone or something to save me from something I was scared to do. It was this last thought that saved me and helped me to dip into my AA toolbox.
There is nothing I need to be ready to say, or can say, to deal with the real enormity of what is going on with him. I simply needed to ask God for help to have the courage to pick up the phone and to ask for guidance in saying whatever was appropriate.
I picked up the phone right away, dialed his number (my Uncle’s of course, I don’t have God’s number in my speed dial), and he answered the phone. We talked for about 5 minutes. During our conversation I was able to tell him that I had heard he was not doing well and that he was in my thoughts and prayers. It was a surprisingly light conversation. I of course felt much more comfortable than I would have thought. I got off the phone and cried. As I am doing in writing about this phone conservation.
I am grateful to have been graced with the courage to call. I felt better for having had this experience. My uncle was sincerely happy to hear from me and seemed touch that I called.
It still amazes me that I can so easily tap into a power that can have me go beyond my simple set of conceptions that set off fear, retreat, and shying away from doing the right thing. Left to my own devices I used to always miss my chances to act responsibly. I lacked the wisdom and self assurance to reach out to others with love. Such behavior, I have come to learn, is living in a way that is like trying to grow a plant without water.
The strangeness of feeling grateful for being able to handle dying, death, and sad events is something I have gotten used to over the years. There are many situations that come up as part of being responsible adult that leave me and plenty of others feeling like “what I am supposed to do here!” and “I don’t want this to be happening!” Getting through those situations – by facing up to them, feeling humbled by playing my part and role in whatever I am supposed to be doing, and even feeling grateful since I know I never would have been able to do such things before – is a much better way to live.
Wishing you the best in sobriety,