Friday, April 6, 2012

How to die gracefully

A lesson from Tina Diaz.

My sponsee in recovery died of cancer Sunday night at 11:10pm.  She was 2 years and 4 months sober and absolutely LOVED LIVING LIFE.  When I met her, she was in remission and just beginning a new journey in sobriety.  Just a short time later, the cancer showed up again and she fought hard to survive another bout.  Sadly she has passed, but not without leaving behind tons of memories and a bit of her tenacious spirit in all who loved her.  Over the past year, I’ve heard myself say on several occasions something like, “If there’s a way to die well, Tina’s doing it”.   

Throughout her fight, she spent all her stored energy experiencing brand new adventures.  She was one mighty woman!  She won a scavenger hunt and danced at my wedding.  A memory I will never forget.  She parasailed, went on retreats, threw birthday parties for her family (played in the bounce houses herself!), let it loose in Disneyland, and all sorts of other things.  She lived! 

From her sick bed, she would send us out from our visits saying things like "Go get a newcomer ladies!"  She wanted everyone to get the life and freedom she found in recovery.  She had a clear purpose to share her story with other alcoholics and she never passed up a chance to reach out to someone in pain.  She inspired so many women to admit their problems were not so big, to swallow hard, to suit up and to help someone out.  If Tina could, they could too. 

She was a fierce mother and so loved both her children and her grandchildren.  She would do anything for any of them and didn’t bat an eye to defend them.  She would get this ‘don’t mess with my kid’ face on if someone began to cross a line, and if her accent returned, oh man, watch out!  Her family surrounded her in her final moments.  She was a blessed woman.

She loved having prayers sent her way.  It was like she could feel them comforting and energizing her.  You could see her whole body change and her chest expand as she took in the prayers and well wishes sent from her friends.  Occasionally, she would cry while she listened to longer prayers.  It was as if the longer ones filled her up so much that she overflowed in tears.  The way it moved her was so inspiring that I came to find more comfort in prayer than ever before in my life.  She taught me how to pray comfortably, honestly and without reservation.  I was not shy in prayer with Tina.  She was a woman of awesome faith and she showed me how to carry my own faith with more grace and confidence.  She told her friends and family that when the time came for her to go from this life, she would not be afraid.  She would be filled with love and taken home.  What faith!

I am humbled to have ever met Tina and am so grateful for all she taught me.  I hope you can find strength, hope and faith in her story.  She would love you to know more of them all!

“To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends -- this is an experience you must not miss.” -BigBook of Alcoholics Anonymous, p.89, Working With Others

“We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.” -BigBook of Alcoholics Anonymous, p.164, A Vision For You

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