I was headed for a tough lesson to learn. I didn’t listen to my better judgement. Instead, I listened to my poor little heart when Goose called and asked me to come for the weekend. No matter how wonderfully an invitation is disguised, when it’s not good for you.. it’s just not good for you.
I packed my bags and headed to Goose’s after work on Friday afternoon. He came after work and we went to the AA meeting. It was there that I saw Goose grow. Like on the cartoon, ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’.. you could see the Grinch’s heart grow.. tonight, I saw Goose grow. First of all there was a lady at the meeting who shared about her marriage being over due to her husband’s continued drinking. He chose the alcohol and left her and their children. That’s when she was diagnosed with cancer. And she wanted him back. She couldn’t manage facing the loss of her husband and cancer at the same time. Her husband had left months ago. Goose whispered for me to notice her wedding ring. I did see it still on her hand. But I didn’t yet realize the significance of what he wanted me to notice. That’s when he surprised me. The meeting facilitator asked if anyone had reached a sobriety milestone, and to come forward. Goose stood up and walked up front near the podium. He told the facilitator that he was 1 year sober. The whole gathering applauded him. But it got even more significant from there. Goose stepped up to the podium to speak. I was shocked. He has never spoken at a meeting in the year that he’s been going there. Not one word. Tonight, he had something to say. I felt honored to be there when he did.
Goose shared about his journey and the sudden impacting changes that had affected his life. His wife dying and the following months when he was attempting to cope the only way that he knew how. By using alcohol. He thanked everyone for being there for him and for all that he’d learned. He held up his chip with pride. I felt so proud of him. I knew it was no small thing he’d just done. When he sat down next to me, he took my hand.. his was cold and shaky. I smiled at him and gave his hand a squeeze. I told him how grateful I was that he’d included me on this night at AA.
It was while we were driving to the movie after AA that I found out the significance of the woman’s wedding ring. As he drove, Goose asked, “why do you suppose she’s still wearing her wedding ring? He left months ago.”
“She just isn’t ready to let go of her marriage yet. And the ring is a symbol of her marriage to her. She’ll take it off when she’s ready.”
On Saturday morning I woke up earlier than usual. I rose quietly and went to the kitchen to make coffee. When I returned, Goose was laying there awake and very quiet. I walked over next to the bed and leaned down to give him a kiss.
“Remember the lady with the ring last night? The whole time I was married, I never went in my wife’s purse. Never. This past week, I cleaned out the dresser. You might as well use it for your things when you’re here. I cleaned out everything except that one top drawer. That’s where her sisters put the contents of her purse after she died. I’ve never opened the drawer.”
I gave Goose the same response that I’d given him last night at the AA meeting.
“You will when you’re ready.”
I knew that being vulnerable was something new to Goose. Last night’s speech at AA and now this disclosure about his wife’s purse. He’d made the connection between the lady at the meeting and his own actions. He made the connection.
I asked him if he was worried about what he’d find? His non-answer spoke volumes.
I suggested, “Maybe you should ask your sons to go through it with you.”
“That would only make it worse.”
“If you just want someone to be here in the house with you while you go through it, I’ll just stay in the other room and if you need me, I’d be here.”
He looked over at the drawer and then at me. He wasn’t ready yet to sort through this last remaining thing. He wasn’t ready to let her go.