Today I was in West Hollywood running errands. As I ran from one shop to another I came across a man on the street with a sign asking for money. He looked young and it made me sad. I gave him a dollar and told him to be safe. He said thank you, and I told him I would keep him in my prayers. It was odd I suppose that I would say that to a stranger on the street, but I felt like he needed a kind word.
I pray everyday and sharing those prayers is my honor and pleasure. The young man told me not to waste my prayers on him. I assured him he was worthy of prayer and he told me he was going to use the money to by crystal meth. It was heartbreaking. In the same way it was surprising to him I offered a prayer, I think he was equally surprised that he made such a confession. It was an interesting moment for us both.
I told him I wanted my dollar back and he immediately gave it to me. I then asked him if he wanted to come shopping with me so I could buy him something to eat. He asked why I would want to be nice to him, why I was not scared, and was he being filmed for some kind of TV show. I laughed for a brief moment and then for a million reasons and no reason at all, I started to cry. I then told this young man about my friend Andy.
I have written about Andy here before. We have been friends for 17 years and he matters to me. We met at work and I love him. I love his mom Ann, and his husband Patrick. He is a gentle soul and he makes me laugh. He is charming, handsome, talented, wise, and in recovery from drug addiction. Meth almost killed my friend Andy, many times, and that he is alive and well is both a miracle and blessing. He has travelled a hard road.
Several months ago Andy relapsed into addiction and we almost lost him. When he was feeling better and back on his feet, he made jokes about his experience and I could not understand what was happening. I was mad at him for joking about something so serious and I shut down. I did not want to talk to him, or hear his stories of what happened. It was painful to me and I was angry and sad and simply unable to deal with his choices.
I felt bad then and I feel bad now. I abandoned him to protect myself. It was an email from his husband that helped me with my confusion. Patrick had read a blog of mine and wrote to talk to me about it. We exchanged emails about my blog and eventually I asked how Andy was, and let Patrick know I could not deal with the jokes and was mad at Andy. Patrick was lovely, explaining to me that people handle things differently.
This kind man, who was dealing with the pain and stress of his husband’s addiction, was easing my pain and worry. It was a moment I will always remember, and always revisit when my ability to be kind is challenged. When I told this young man, Greg, that he was in my prayers, it was not only for him, but for Andy. For some reason I was able to express myself to a stranger more than I was to my dear friend. It was surprising.
Greg and I went to the store and I bought him some groceries. Water, juice, chips, fruit, tuna, chocolate, toilet paper, cough drops and bread. He was very clear on what he wanted and when he went to get the chocolate, he asked if it was okay as that was a luxury item. I smiled and told him to get whatever he wanted and needed. When we were done we walked outside and I told him that the groceries were from me and Andy.
He thanked me for the groceries, said I was “cool as fuck”, and told me to thank Andy. I wished him well, reminded him that he was worthy of happiness and sobriety, and I went on my way. I thought about Andy and let him know what happened. I was unable to tell him how I felt about everything until now and needed Greg to help me. I love Andy and I pray for him to be healthy, happy, and whole. He matters to me.
Addiction is vicious and does not discriminate against race, religion, sexual preference, or age. We must try to not judge and remember that when we see someone struggling with addiction, there is someone who is praying for them. To Greg, thank you. To Patrick, you are magnificent. To Andy, you are in my prayers everyday and I cannot wait to see you and give you a smooch. Our friendship is forever and together we will keep the faith.
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