Here & Now – Grapevine Article June 2022 by Maryellen O.

Through cancer and COVID, this longtimer finds joy in service and accepting life exactly where it is

I had no idea when I walked into AA 36 years ago that I’d be where I am today. I’ve been sober more than half my life, surrounded by so much love. God has graced me with more than I ever dreamed possible.

I was told that if I never leave the basics, I won’t have to return to them. Truer words have never been spoken. Especially these past two years. Decades of meetings, service, sponsoring, knowing what Step I’m on and more brought me to March 2020. When COVID hit, AA members amazingly went into action and within less than a week we were all on virtual meetings. A crazy band of volunteers with no one in charge organically knew exactly what to do. Overnight the cadence of daily meetings began—virtually. It was actually really nice attending meetings with my 2-year-old puppy next to me. It was also very cool getting to see people from all around the world. 

I had retired, and I was enjoying gardening, playing music, pursuing my AA life. Once COVID hit, however, contact with people was drastically limited, but daily meditations and meetings kept me on track. Luckily, I knew the drill: Don’t leave the basics so you won’t have to return to them. 

Around that time, I began experiencing some odd physical symptoms, feelings I could not explain. My doctor and I started to explore what might be causing these. Then came the bad news in May. It was cancer, advanced. I called my sponsor, which I do regularly, and right away went to a meeting. And I kept going to my meetings throughout the treatments. I had to stay horizontal for about eight weeks. I could not sit up in my virtual AA meetings, but no one seemed to be bothered. Everyone understood.

Before I knew it, food started arriving at my door. Members would pick up my puppy from the back -yard and take him for a walk. The delicious pies made by my Southern friend were amazing. All my years of action, love and service had an unexpected dividend of support.

I was in the fourth week of treatment and the pain was getting bad when all of a sudden I got a text. It read, “I have a friend in SoCal who has a friend who has a cousin in your county who wants to get sober, can you help?” Well, of course I could help. The texts started flying back and forth and I was soon on the phone with this fabulous young lady, and we talked sobriety. I needed her as much as she needed me. She and I talked regularly. I plugged her into the virtual meetings and she was off to the AA races. She was all in. 

A big surprise for me was realizing that many introverts like coming into AA by way of virtual meetings. I suggested to my friend that she start “meeting” as many women at her online meetings as she could to find a sponsor. I would have sponsored her myself but since my health was uncertain, I wanted her to find someone else, and she did. I introduced her to some women’s meetings. We continued our conversations about sobriety and the Big Book, which were all a treat for me. What a joy. What a privilege.

And here we are. She has six months sober and she’s working her Steps and helping out when she can. She’s a rock star and a friend. God brought her to me and, once again, I’m reminded that it’s all about the love. 

How long will I live? I have no idea. All I know is AA taught me that all I have is right here, right now. And I’m glad for it. I’m also grateful to AA and to God and to the most amazing group of sober people in the world who teach me about love every day.

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