Being sober and facing grief is quite different because there is no pain reliever. I remember I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of a One Stop gas station when Mom called to tell me my grandfather, who I affectionately called Papa, had passed away. As if the initial shock wasn’t enough, she said he had passed away three days prior to her telling me. I asked why she waited to break the news, and she simply said, “I didn’t think you would care.”

I was in the middle of my active addiction and didn’t participate much in family functions – my life was a mess and this was pure proof. I was unable to stay sober for family functions, but I showed up to them anyway. The unfortunate part is I do not even remember them. The fact my mother believed I wouldn’t care about my Papa passing away still hurts me, but I understand it now.

A couple of months later, I surrendered and went to treatment. I did 60 days in two different facilities, then stayed at a sober home in South Florida. While in treatment, sober homes, and even just the program you meet a lot of people who are doing all they can to beat this disease. Unfortunately, what comes with that is a lot of loss as well. I have lost more people to addiction than I would like to even admit to.

Two of my roommates from different treatment centers, two beautiful girls filled with more energy and life than I ever had, succumbed to this. I remember those calls as well – it is like the world stops for a moment. I sat in shock, then heartbreak. I think of all the things they could have done and everything they will never get to do. I think of their families and the pain they must feel.

The loss of Papa was difficult, but the difference between his passing and the loss of my roommates is I am sober now. I feel all these emotions including fear. I have a fear of this disease that it could so easily and so quickly take my two friends, but instead of focusing on the loss, I celebrated their lives. A group of us got together and went to the beach. We bought a soda bottle with her name on it, each wrote a note to her, and listen to a song called “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth. We let the bottle go into the ocean and we released balloons into the sky.

I can’t explain the feeling we had there sitting together and remembering all the things we did with her. Being sober for this loss was so different. I sat in it and instead of choosing to run and use, I chose to face it. I chose to celebrate life and be grateful to still have mine. I chose to live each day for those loved ones we have lost to addiction, and strive to accomplish all the things they no longer have the opportunity to.