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I remember the evening of 9 July 1994 quite vividly. It was hot, as it tends to be in Virginia in high summer. I had just finished mowing the lawn and was thirsty, hankering for a cold beer. In the fridge was a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon, just waiting for its top to be popped. I did not know it then, but that was the last drink I ever had. My long battle with alcohol ended with that can of PBR.

The next day, a Sunday, was a family visit day at Father Martin’s Ashley, where my then wife was in alcoholism rehabilitation herself. I remember she thanked me for the intervention that put her there.  Our marriage, though, was over, as the next few months played out. Being a drinking buddy was not to be the basis of a lasting relationship.

My then-wife became the ex-wife. We communicated while our son was growing up. We both took an interest in his school activities, like F.I.R.S.T. Robotics.  Then as that link was broken, we stopped communicating.  On 3 November 2015, she died of lung cancer at age 66. (Yes, she was a smoker.)  Had she not concealed her terminal illness from me, I guess her loss might have been easier. She didn’t. As my elder son said later, “There is no closure.”  I can’t think of my drinking days and my early sobriety without thinking of her.

My sobriety continues through job losses, that divorce, my current lasting and loving marriage of fifteen years. I have lost family to death, including my parents and older brother.  I became Catholic, with the attendant marriage annulments as part of that journey.  Now retirement . My sobriety, like my life, has a new beginning with each new day. It is by no means all “puppies, rainbows, and balloons”, but it is a life worth living.  I am truly grateful to be here.

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