In January 2009, I received a phone call which changed my life. Michael, a very good friend and spiritual advisor, was in the hospital intensive care unit diagnosed with Burkitt Lymphoma. Burkitt Lymphoma is recognized as the fastest growing human tumor, and Michael’s prognosis was very poor. My initial reaction brought on feelings of anger, fear, guilt and sadness. Someone suggested to me, instead of drowning in your self-pity, why not take advantage of Michael’s remaining moments here and be a friend.
For the following two months, I spent every day at the hospital with Michael, providing support and encouragement. As an atheist throughout my life, Michael opened my eyes to my spiritual void and filled my heart with a passion to share it with others. Bittersweet thoughts raced through my mind as I sat next to him in his hospital room listening to the sounds of the beeps and alarms of the machines supporting his life. Wicked, the Broadway musical was about to launch a second national tour and was constantly being advertised on television. My favorite song from Wicked was, “For Good” and I often listened to it while passing the time away at Michael’s bedside.
Michael’s final day on this physical planet was on March 3, 2009. I was devastated and in a moment of vulnerability and tenderness, I prayed for clarity in a situation amongst the feeling of being betrayed by the universe. While doing so, I suddenly felt an uplifting spirit from my heart redirecting my self-centeredness outward and once again, after such a long sabbatical, reaffirmed a sense of purpose in life. I said a prayer, “I am ready to carry out the responsibility and make myself available for the work of grace in the lives of others. Show me my skill upon which You trust, that I may not have the confidence to believe in myself, and let me showcase it to the world. Shower me with Your blessings for I will use this gift to serve others who need it the most.”
I also made the following promise which brought closure to the loss of a dear friend and redirected my life away from the isolation that once took me down: I will provide a safe harbor from the treacherous sea of addiction; I will be a solid friend and living proof that life can get better when we surrender; I will be honored to receive an invitation to walk side-by-side with a newcomer and be a positive influence throughout his new journey; and I will utilize my management skills acquired throughout my career and be a champion and leader in the recovery community.