This moment...

Meet my brother . He's going on 54 years old. He's a father. He's about to be a grandfather for the second time. And he's sober. He has been for years now.I don't think he'd mind me mentioning that to you. Give him the chance, he'll talk your ear off about sobriety. Believe me. I know from experience. He can go on for hours talking about where he's been and where he is now. But that's okay with me. AA and NA saved his life. Well, he would probably say his higher power did. And I might say that the choice he made to go to rehab instead of a bar one morning did. Or that the woman at the front desk who slipped him on the bus to the treatment facility after his rehab roommate skipped out and my brother begged her to give him that guy's slot did it... who can say? It's all about the minute to minute choices we all make. To drink or not to drink. To show up or stay home. To pick up the phone or leave it for voice mail...

A couple of weeks ago, I made one of those choices and didn't even notice. It was a Tuesday night. That usually means sparring with my Quantum Family at the Dojo. So I went down and rolled around on the floor, sweating and punching and struggling and laughing... diving out of the way while my 6'8" friend Brook tries to kick me across the room, twisting like a pretzel to squeeze out of one of Joel's inescapable grappling maneuvers. Good times. Sitting in a circle with my friends, wiped out and happy at the end of it all.

After the workout, I went back into my new studio space in the "Dungeon", a big storage space at the far end of our space to unpack more boxes and get the space a little more liveable... not easy, but it's getting there..I must have spent a couple of hours back there, working in silence. The quiet was peaceful. It finally dawned on me that I had left my iPhone in the van downstairs. It's become such an extension of me that a little vacation from it was a  treat. I figured there was nothing and no one who couldn't wait until I was through.

When I finally closed up and went downstairs, I found a phone full of messages. One was from Glen. He'd called at 8:30 Seattle time which made it 11:30 back in NYC. He was between steady construction jobs, working weekends only,  so he'd called... figuring he might catch me on my schedule instead of calling me at 6am on a Saturday (since who figures out time zones on a Saturday morning?). It was 10 minutes to 9 where I was, so I figured "what the hell...he's probably still awake" . I sat in the dark van and dialed his number.

On the fourth ring, he picked up, not nearly as awake as I'd hoped, but happy to hear my voice. We caught up for twenty minutes or so and eventually he started padding around the little railroad apartment he'd inherited from Our Mom when she went to a better place (by which I mean a subsidized apartment in a newer building on York Avenue).

Then he started mumbling about smelling gas.

He checked out the kitchen and discovered that when he'd wiped down the old gas stove after dinner, he'd somehow opened one of the burners enough to get the gas flowing but not enough to ignite the gas itself. The apartment had been slowly filling with gas for at least an hour as he dozed off.

He said "Holy shit, Bro. You saved my life."

I kind of laughed it off and told him to be more careful when he does his housekeeping. We said good night and hung up. And then I said in my dark van and shook and wept at the realization of how close I'd come to losing him. For years, we hadn't had any relationship worth speaking of, let alone the real friendship we have now. And had I not picked up the phone, I would have had nothing but memories.

I'm thinking of this tonight with the news of the loss of another dear friend this week still spinning my head around. And all I can say is, if you're thinking one of these days, you're going to get around to it, whatever "it" is, then you'd better get on with it. Everything is in motion. Maybe by entering into the stream, you'll make something wonderful happen.

Maybe you'll stop something awful.

Who knows?
It's A Mystery 1997
from the collection of Eileen McCabe


  1. physample@gmail.comMarch 20, 2012 at 5:07 AM

    All I can say is...after a deep breathe...What a good looking brother you have and glad you went to your van!!!


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