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East Coast Smile

Did he make it? I think he did, I rejoice in him when I see him. There is a look of caring about him. His eyes are brighter, clearer. The color of his skin is healthy. His teeth are new and white and even. They accent the big smile of triumph and happiness on his lips! There is a twinkle in his eye and a lilt of excitement in his voice. There is complete joy and gratefulness in his heart. There is a sense of freedom that surrounds him. It is fresh and catching, that feeling of freedom and newness that oozes from him.

It was the hardest thing he ever had to do, this gaining freedom. He had been captured. Yes, captured and wrapped up tight. So very tight. He and his loved ones had thought the knots would never be able to be loosed. They had given up. He had even given up all hope of a cure as he knew there was none. Or a reprieve from it and the road to hell it had led him and his down.

He began as a child. He folks’ were of a notorious biker group. They were the rough and ready type, not just recreational bikers. The bikers of the 60’s. He was raised around the partying and drugs and became addicted to heroin as a pre-teen. They allowed it. They allowed him access to it and did not care. They were in their own little world then and did not look to the future. Someone shot him up, I don’t know who as he never said. He learned to do it himself. He smoked it. It was the number 1 most important thing in his life. He fought at different times to come “clean” and stay that way. It never seemed to work, for long anyway.

When I first met him, my impression was that of a rough guy with an East Coast accent. Nice looking guy, except his teeth. I was introduced to him at one of my husband’s rehab meetings. They became friends. They connected. They were both clean and sober.

Over the next few years, my husband relapsed. But his friend did not. The East Coast guy went to every meeting and even started going to church and praising God in every way for his freedom and new life. His wife and family life were happier, he was happy too. His work was coming along well. He had more money. He got a beautiful new set of teeth. His smile was even prettier!

He had made it. It gave me hope that somehow my husband would again, “make it.” I was happy that he called him a few weeks back, thinking good, he is a good influence. My husband looked up to him. I was happier still when he phoned again, thinking maybe he is getting through to my husband. I was doubtful when the next time he called, my husband left the house. A week later, when he called our home 3 times in a row, I was skeptical.

An hour later the phone rang. As he spoke with my husband, I looked out the window. Rain was coming down hard and I saw East Coast leaning up against our front fence talking on his cell phone. Then my husband went outside in the pouring rain, wearing my pink rubber shoes on his feet to meet his friend underneath a tree that shaded them like an umbrella.

It really struck me! When my husband came back inside, the anger poured out from my heart and mouth. “What are you doing?” and “Don’t you be a part of his relapse!” and “Oh, my God!” The grief that followed surprised me.

East Coast with his beautiful new smile and freedom had relapsed. I thought he wouldn’t. Somehow his sobriety had become a symbol of hope to me. Now that was crushed. Did he make it? I thought that he had, but not this time. I sincerely hope and pray that he does again. I hope he makes it for good next time. I hope there is a next time.