from the San Diego AA Coordinator, February, 2020

What does it mean to you to take on an AA commitment? Do you always say yes to AA requests and always suit up and show up? When I do, here is what happens.

My husband and I were asked if one off us would be the speaker at the annual Pancake breakfast, celebrating 79 years of AA in San Diego. The event was a few months away and I replied that we would.  

This involves a couple extra factors, first my husband is undergoing chemotherapy and he does not always have the strength, energy or “health” to get out and about. Second, as often as possible we head off to our place in Yuma that has become our getaway retreat.

But making an AA commitment we take seriously, and make every attempt we can to meet the obligation. So, the date was penned on our calendars.  It was decided that David would do the speaking. He is the real speaker of the family and enjoys his moments in the spotlight.  Besides, the other speaker was female.  Not much more thought was given to the event.

Just a couple days before the event, it became evident that my husband would not be able to attend, let alone speak.   I was disappointed because I knew it meant he didn’t feel well, and, because he wasn’t “prepared” and ready to speak, I’d be doing it without him there to cheer me on. I have spoken a few times, but he’s always been there, my “friendly face” in the crowd. One exceptions was a few months ago I was asked to speak at South Bay Pioneers.  It was the  first time I went on a speaking engagement without him by my side. The chemo had him down.

Even though I rode down with friends and had friends there. It was difficult and different but I did it once, so I knew I could do it again. My car had recently been acting up, so I asked for a ride. Thank goodness I’d learned how to pick up that 500-pound phone early on and it weighs almost nothing these days. I was not going to add the stress of wondering if I’d have a mechanical issue trying to get there. A ride, in fact two, was generously offered.

Initially I was a little reluctant, not really interested in going and a bit sad because of why I was the one speaking “alone” – my husband’s health. But once again, suit up and show up, give and you will get. What a fabulous morning it turned out to be. I got to see a lot of friends I hadn’t seen for some time, because of our traveling and the usual changes in meetings attended. That brought great joy to reconnect and a great reminder of how many people I do know and can call on if needed. I got a lot of compliments and who doesn’t enjoy receiving those. And I was told my talk was a success; which may only mean that I started and stopped on time! I did hear the occasional laughter and it was at the right spots. Really though, I did get some personal comments so I know I was able to share experience that could be related to.

What really topped the breakfast off was someone came up to me and asked if I recognized him, I didn’t, but as soon as he said his name, joy and happiness filled me. It was someone that was in our drinking group that came into the program a few years after my husband and I. He had taken the 12 steps with my husband. Life moved on and we lost track. What a joy, he has maintained long term sobriety. If I hadn’t been speaking, we would have been in the same room but missed connecting.

The ride home with another friend was appreciated and I enjoyed our one on one time. Those special talks to and from meetings. I was happy, joyous and free and that does not begin to describe how filled I was. No room for any fear of the future, no room for any worry of my current situation. No hunger, because I had pancakes eggs and sausage! And all this because I never say no to an AA commitment. Once again, I was given an abundance of joy just because I suited up and showed up.

Postscript: 2 weeks after I wrote this my husband, David, passed from his long ordeal with pancreatic cancer. The blessing is that David was able to have a brief visit with that long-lost friend.

Marilyn A.