Rising from the Ashes
Have you ever known someone who seemed hell-bent to destroy him/herself? Many years ago, when I first met my now ex-husband, I was introduced to W, his closest friend. W was heavily into the whole sex-drugs-rock n' roll culture that life was at that time, with drugs being the primary focus. Bad drugs, hard drugs, mind-altering drugs. Apart from that, W was both intelligent and kind, he would give the shirt off his back to anyone in need. He was an excellent guitarist and lived to make music and of course party down. W, divorced and the father of three young boys, was an addict, self-medicating to avoid whatever demons haunted him in life. He knew it, he admitted it, but he had no desire to change it.
W and I had many long conversations about life. He used to affectionately refer to me as his therapist. At one point I actually had him convinced to enter rehab, but he backed out at the last moment on the day he was to go. He wasn't ready to face himself yet, and I honestly wondered if he ever would be.
At one point W drove his motorcycle into the back end of a semi-truck/trailer going down the highway at a high rate of speed. It was weeks before he was even recognizable as the swelling slowly went down, and months for his mangled body to recover from the injuries. His face still bears the brutal scars of that night. As always, his mother stood by him and cared for him, and believed in him, and when he came home from the hospital clean and sober and claiming he had seen the light, we all wanted so badly to believe it was true. But salvation was short lived, and before long he was back to his old friends and his old ways.
Another time W nearly burned down his house and half the neighborhood making meth in his kitchen. When I asked him later what he'd learned from the experience, he shrugged, smiled and said "to do it better next time". I sighed, realizing that he was serious, and he STILL didn't get it. How many times was God, fate, or whatever supposed to give him one more chance to get it right, to choose life instead of the slow but sure road to death?
My ex and I used to talk about how some day his mother was going to call us with the news that he had died tragically, and we had already decided that we weren't going to go to his funeral, because we were angry that he'd spent so many years trying to kill himself the hard way. Such as waste of his life, such a damn shame!
After I left my ex I didn't hear from or about W. By then it had gotten to the point where it wasn't good to have him visit where you lived, because he hung out with a bad crowd. Our home had been broken into once too often, everyone being aware of all the high dollar music equipment housed there. There is no honor among thieves, or druggies who need money to support their habits. I knew he continued to work off and on in the oilfield between run-ins with the law, and of course to make music whenever he had the chance. Then I heard he'd moved away.
A few years passed, and out of the blue a few months back while I was texting with my ex, he informed me that W had been back in town to visit - that he had gotten his shit together, cleaned up his act, was off drugs and in love with a girl that they had known way back in high school, and was living in Colorado. It sounded too good to be true, so I had to check it out, contacting him by email, and then adding him to my Facebook at his request.
I would have put a whole paycheck on a bet that it couldn't happen, and I would have gladly lost that money. The truth is that he IS clean and sober, he's put on weight - a belly in fact, and no longer looks like a walking dead man. He is madly in love with a wonderful women who he credits as his angel of salvation. She was able to see thru all the garbage to the soul deep inside and to reach him where no one else had been able to before.
W and his new love got married a few weeks ago, and I've never seen him happier. She adores him and they are living in a beautiful spot in Colorado. She's a hospice nurse, and he just landed a good new job. He says he's been clean for a year now, and he's found faith - something that he previously didn't believe existed. His youngest son is now out of prison, also clean at last, and is just starting art school. Another son is still struggling and his dad is determined to help him turn his life around. Better a a late role model than never, and who can better understand how hard it is than someone who has been there.
This is one of those "I can't believe it, but it's true" fairytales with, God willing, a happily-ever-after ending. It's also yet another testimony about the wisdom of never giving up on a life... anyone is capable of changing until the moment that they depart this world. The desire and determination to do so has to come from them. Deep down there was always a spark of life hiding in the darkness. It took an angel to help bring it out into the light!
Disclaimer: Please note that I'm not preaching the gospel of stick with anybody thru anything because someday they may get their act together... that's a whole different ballgame. Relationships require two people working together, it can't and shouldn't be carried by one alone.