Gravy

No other word would do. For that’s
what it was. Gravy.
Gravy these past ten years.
Alive, sober, working, loving and
being loved by a good woman. Eleven years
ago he was told he had six months to live
at the rate he was going. And he was going
nowhere but down. So he changed his ways
somehow. He quit drinking! And the rest?
After that it was all gravy, every minute
of it, up to and including when he was told about,
well, some things that were breaking down and
building up inside his head. “Don’t weep for me,”
he said to his friends. “I’m a lucky man.
I’ve had ten years longer than I or anyone
expected. Pure gravy. And don’t forget it.”
“Gravy” by Ray Carver

The above poem is pretty popular among us sober types and it’s easy to discern why. We all appreciate what Carver went through and what he experienced after he got sober. On Sunday I celebrated eighteen years sober and I can’t begin to describe what it has meant to me. I’ve lived longer than I thought I would, I’ve achieved far more than I thought possible and like Carver, I love and am loved. That last statement is the truly amazing part to all of this. When I was drinking and even when I was sober for quite some time, I never believed I was lovable, that I was worthy of being cared for, even by God. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God, I could not fathom that God believed in me. With that as the starting point, it was just impossible to believe that I would find love, be loved, and truly, deeply, madly feel that way about someone else. It has all come to pass, far beyond what I imagined. So here I am, eighteen years sober, living a life that I was beyond my comprehension the day I quit drinking. The night before I quit, I was trying to decide whether or not to commit suicide or hitchhike to California and live with my brother. I called my only friend that was still speaking to me (at about 1 am, but you’ll have to ask her. I’m working on secondary sources for the most part) and said goodbye, California or dead, either way I was leaving. Instead, I passed out and when I awoke I went to see my neighbor to see if I had done anything stupid the night before. He said it sounded like I had a pretty rough night, but I didn’t do any permanent damage, physical or otherwise. He then made a suggestion that I had never thought about. He asked if I ever thought about quitting drinking for a while. The light came on, and it hasn’t dimmed since. Like Carver said, gravy.

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