One of the most difficult parts of life is mourning the loss of a loved one. Several years ago, our family gathered to mourn the loss, and celebrate the life of my Grandma Ayers. The church she and Grandpa Ayers had attended for decades was filled with family, friends, and neighbors. So many people came to pay their respects, and celebrate a life very well lived.
In typical fashion, the minister of the church spoke. Then a family member or two. Finally, a friend of Grandma’s spoke. There was a good mix of tears and laughter as everyone reflected on stories that were told. She had touched so many people in her life, and it was obvious that her memory would live on, continuing to touch the lives of the folks gathered in that church.
After the service ended, family members, including most of my cousins, gathered at my parents home. As stories about Grandma circulated about, something strange happened. You see, I had always been certain that I was Grandma’s favorite grandchild. At least that’s how she always made it feel.
Yet, as my cousins told stories, it became apparent that each of them felt the same. Every one of us was her favorite. Eleven grown adults, each of whom was convinced they had been her favorite. I remember making that observation at some point in the evening. The others all agreed.
That was a unique quality that Grandma had. When she was with you, spending time with you, she was really there. She was present. She loved.
Something funny about experiencing Grandma’s love is that as we each agreed that she made us feel like her favorite, there was no room for jealousy upon learning she had had many favorites. Grandma’s love for her grandchildren was not limited. She could love us each fully, yet not at the expense of any of the rest of us.
Everyone wants to feel Grandma’s kind of love. Everyone deserves to feel loved in that way too. There is something in each of our hearts that longs to experience that level of acceptance and have some else’s full attention.
Sadly, at some point in my life, I tried to satisfy that longing to be loved with drugs. At the time, I had no idea that was what I was doing, but in retrospect, that was a big part of my addiction. I knew something was missing in life, and I thought I had found it in drugs, and the people with whom I used.
The sad fact of trying to fill that hole with drugs is that it’s like filling a pail with no bottom. The more I used, the less satisfying the results. In time, there seemed to be no solution to my dilemma. Nothing to fill the void. More drugs, different drugs, nothing worked.
Even worse, the more I tried to fill that void with drugs, the more I pushed away the people in my life who actually did love me. I had no time for them.
When I was introduced to the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous, I was told I never had to use drugs again. That was fine with me, but my real question was “why”? Why stop? Why give up such a great thing? (Yes, my mind was that confused.)
There were other questions too. Could I ever stop wanting to use? Would the obsession and compulsion ever leave? What would take their place? What could possibly fill that void?
The answer to these questions and more was found in love. I began again to experience love in my life. My parents, brother and sister-in-law showed me that their love had been there all along.
I also found love from Amanda. She not only introduced me to recovery through NA, but also stood beside me, encouraging me to keep trying, keep pressing on, despite the many setbacks my first months in recovery presented.
Then there was the love I experienced in the fellowship. It’s a unique camaraderie that recovering addicts share. A love that is present in every meeting I’ve ever attended.
Before I knew it, that void had been filled. The desire I had for drugs was replaced by love from others, and the desire to love others.
There are still times when I fall short. Times when I want to love, but just don’t have it in me. Times when I long to have love restored, and it isn’t. At such times, I can practice other spiritual principles, such as acceptance, humility, and hope.
I think about Grandma Ayers and being her favorite. It comforts me to know it’s possible to love others that way. It’s the way I want to love today. Any time that void seems less than full, rather than trying to fill by seeking more love, I can fill it by loving others. Making people feel important and loved, making them feel like Grandma’s favorite.
Have a remarkable day!