The Passing of a Man from Kennebunk

A shed near the cemetery of Kennebunk Unitarian Universalist Church. The church hosts an AA meeting six mornings a week in a library room lined with very old books. Today a man described a cartoon he had clipped and saved. In it, a woman is writing in her diary, “Today is the 32nd anniversary of Mabel Murphy’s rude comment about my handbag.” Yesterday someone offered this typically light AA trigger for humility: “I may not be much, but I’m all I think about!” The long-sobriety vibe of this meeting makes it worth the 20-minute drive from Ocean Park at 6:30 a.m.

Today’s meeting was a somber and sometimes funny remembrance of Jim, a much-loved member who died of pneumonia yesterday, sober for 35 years. By the end of the hour, I felt as if I knew him better than if I’d visited last week, when he last sat in his usual chair in the corner of the book-lined room. A young man sitting near me had difficulty speaking during the introductions, and afterward I asked if he was a family member. “No, he was my sponsor,” the man said.

UPDATE: “I want what you have,” the man once told Jim. “You already have it in you,” the sponsor replied. “You just need to let it grow.” A prayer of Jim’s: “God, grace me as I search for you, and save me from those who have found You.”

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