As I was cleaning out my previous semester's work that was saved on my computer I came across this piece. It is a portion of a story about a man I remember very well from my previous college. This post was originally intended for a guest post on another blog but I never followed through with getting it posted. Written circa 2013, this post tells a story of love, addiction, and above all else faith. No images, no "fluff", just truth. I hope you enjoy!
Thirty-eight years ago Mr. Joe married the love of his life. Nineteen years ago Mrs. Joe passed away. Sixteen years ago Mr. Joe went to his first AA meeting.
When I was sitting down for lunch, I overheard bits and pieces on an older man’s conversation with his coworkers. I could not piece together a coherent story but I was intrigued by his words and I knew I wanted to know more. I didn’t want to be rude but something inside of me was just telling me to talk to this man. To listen to his words and hear what he had to say. So I summoned up my courage and did just that.
Mr. Joe told me that he sees his life in numbers. When I asked why, he said it is the easiest way to keep track of his memories. He uses numbers to remember the years important events happened and he uses numbers to count down the days until he is reunited with his wife.
When I asked Joe (as he preferred to be called) about his wife, I saw his face light up. It was then that I knew that this woman meant the world to him. He said, “She meant the world to me, but I never got the chance to show her. I would give anything to have her back right now. To let her get all dressed up. To take her to dinner and the show. To dance all night with her. To walk hand in hand down the street. To show my love for her.”
You see, all of Joe’s life he struggled with addiction. Alcohol. Marijuana. Cocaine. He had done almost every drug on the streets. He fell into a world of addiction and began to shut people out and treat the ones who loved him most terribly. Through this, his wife never ceased to love him. However, Joe did not see this. He did not see how he hurt his wife with his actions and he saw no reason to change his ways. Then one day, she was gone. A fatality on the road stripped Joe of his wife. The regret Joe felt from this accident impacted his life in both bad and wonderful ways. For three years he turned in a direction that lead him towards the dark. After losing his house, his possessions, and most of his family, Joe found himself one day sitting in a shelter. Encouraged to attend meetings and therapy by the shelter, Joe began to see his life in a different way. Through weekly chapel meetings and drug rehabilitation, Joe became sober.
Sixteen years ago Joe turned his life around. Sixteen years ago Joe experienced his last drug induced high. Sixteen years ago Joe found faith and Jesus in a shelter chapel.
When asked what his biggest regret is, Joe states, “not treating her right, not giving her everything she wanted, and not being good enough for her.”
To me this experience really opened up my eyes. I often find myself lost in a world of self-satisfaction. More often than not I worry too much about myself and do not give enough time to others. I could see on Joe’s face how much he enjoyed having someone to talk to and tell his story to. It reminded me that sometimes the best thing I can do for others is give them a piece of my time. You don’t have to do huge acts of kindness to make someone’s day, often it is the little things that mean the most.
(When asked if I could share his story on my blog, Joe agreed stating that he feels that if someone can benefit from his story, he wants it told.)