My wife and I are kind of starting to find our rhythm having a newborn. In the midst, I’m finding little pockets of time to write! Today, I decided to finish the post I was working on before my son was born…
One of my cousins recently got married. The wedding was incredibly beautiful. It was in the middle of a meadow, with a river in the background, and a giant mountain in the distance. You couldn’t have asked for better weather or a more beautiful atmosphere.
With her father at the helm, the bride arrived in horse and carriage. As she walked down the aisle, the posts surrounding the guests and wedding party were decorated with tule and dozens of dried roses. Every single rose was one that my cousin had given her during their seven years of dating. She had saved all of them.
The ceremony was heartfelt, with my uncle speaking words of wisdom over the couple. I tried to look at my wife as I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the other groomsmen, but tears started to well up. The happy couple rode off into the meadow in the horse and carriage and arrived at the reception overlooking this vista and stocked with a feast fit for a king.
I don’t know if Hollywood could have dreamed up anything better.
What’s funny is, the thing I was affected by most wasn’t the wedding. It was the groom’s brother, my other cousin.
We went to the same high school and when I was 15 and he was 16, his band played at a friend’s birthday party. There was a lot of drinking. I remember watching my cousin play bass, lean over and puke into a bowl, then go right back to his bass, never missing a beat. Later that night he set up a case of beer into a pyramid and yelled out, “I’m a human bowling ball!” as he crashed into it. The cops showed up and we all got tickets for minors in the possession of alcohol.
That was toward the beginning of our teen spirals. Somewhere along the way I turned 18 and got sick of the drinking and drugs and all they were doing to me—emotionally, physically, and spiritually. But this cousin took a much different path that ended in alcoholism, deep depressions, and failed attempts at rehab.
So, back to the wedding. Right before the ceremony, about ten of us were standing in a circle with the groom, ready to drink shots in celebration of the holy matrimony we would soon witness. My cousin (the one not getting married) has now been sober for a few years so he and I were both holding water bottles (I wasn’t feeling well that morning, otherwise I probably would have partaken). The rest of the group held their tiny bottles of liquor and drank to the groom.
Those moments caused me to reflect on the week my cousin had had, and I realize how in awe of him I really am.
As best man, my cousin had stayed in a house with the groom and his friends for the week leading up to the ceremony. All week they had been drinking and playing poker. My cousin played sober enjoying his sparkling water, and took all of their money. After enduring multiple nights being surrounded by belligerent twenty-somethings and not joining fully into the festivities, I just can’t imagine how my cousin felt standing there watching everyone else pour burning liquid down their throats in honor of his soon-to-be-wed brother.
All of this was a couple of months ago, but I keep thinking back to the group of us standing in that circle and my cousin not taking a shot. Contrast that to the human bowling ball incident and I see how far he’s come in his sobriety—how healthy he is, physically and emotionally. I’m absolutely mesmerized by the completely different man he’s become.
So, what does it take for an alcoholic to be inundated with alcohol for five days straight and not have a drink?
The will of a man is something to behold, especially when he has discovered the strength to choose to be who he really is.