Goodbye, My Friend

177
467
saying good bye to a friend that overdosed on drugs

I read every obituary I could find about the passing of my friend, Tom Hayden. Heaps of praise were lavished upon this true hero and warrior of my generation. I admired him for all his deeply felt beliefs and envied the courage he displayed in standing up for them. While his life was recounted in great detail, not a single mention was ever made of the program, Alcoholics Anonymous.

I recognized Hayden as soon as he entered the meeting room of my Saturday morning men’s group in Pacific Palisades. He looked fragile and unkempt, but it was him alright. Black hoodie pulled up over his head and pants hanging loosely from his boney frame, I watched as he found a seat on a worn-out couch along the windows in the rear of the room. The meeting was attended by a couple hundred men, so Tom wasn’t particularly noticeable. I doubt whether many of the mostly younger guys would have known who he was, but I certainly did.

That’s Tom Hayden, I said to myself, a little surprised to see him at an AA meeting. I had known a great deal about his political career ever since the Chicago Seven days, but had never heard anything about him being an alcoholic.

I spotted Tom each Saturday over the course of the next few weeks, even though he seemed to be doing his best to remain anonymous. One morning after a meeting where I was chosen to be the speaker, Tom came up to me and told me he liked my talk and asked if I’d be willing to sponsor him. I was surprised. I had assumed that since he had been coming to meetings for a while, he probably already had a sponsor. We had never spoken to one another previously, but I was pleased that he had chosen me to work with him.

We agreed to meet the following week, at which time he explained to me how alcohol had become increasingly problematic for him and that although he had stopped drinking a while ago, he was curious about this AA deal and wanted to give it a try. I told him that sponsorship initially entails taking a new man through the Twelve Steps of AA, a job I have done countless times in my 34 years of recovery. I told him I’d be happy to work with him, but first I wanted to hear his story. He confined his talk with me to his problems with drinking, which was fine with me, as I already knew a lot about his life and career.

Tom spoke without embellishment, assuring me he understood what alcohol had done to him. He said he was determined not to drink again, that he had a family that meant the world to him, and he intended to keep them close. I’d heard this pledge not to drink again from many men, some of whom actually kept it, but in Tom I sensed a deeply felt commitment to doing it the right way.

We agreed we’d meet on Saturday to begin working on the Steps. I asked him to read the Big Book, the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous, before our first meeting. Tom readily agreed to do this. By the time we met the following Saturday, he had already read it and was full of observations and questions. I thought to myself, This is going to be some experience!

We spent that first Saturday just talking about the book. Having read it several times, I thought I knew a lot about the contents, but Tom brought new insight and questions I’d not heard or considered before. It felt in some ways that he was teaching me the Program.

Over the next several months, we met before the AA meeting each week to go through the Steps. On my way, I’d stop at a local grocery store and purchase a coffee for me and green tea for Tom, which he quite enjoyed. He had a funny habit of leaving the tea bag in the cup, which I thought made the tea bitter and acidic, but Tom said he liked it that way.

We’d work a Step each week, each reading alternate paragraphs, which required both of us to pay attention. I didn’t need to be concerned about Tom, though. He concentrated fiercely, underlining words and passages that interested him. Upon completion of the reading, I’d ask Tom to go home and write about the Step, including some specific questions I’d given him. The following week we’d review what he had written.

With all of the men I’d sponsored over the years, the writing was generally brief and somewhat superficial, but Tom was different. He took the writing assignments seriously, and dove deeply into each Step, finding greater understanding and appreciation the more he probed. The further we went with the Steps, the more into it he became.

When we got to the Fourth Step, a personal inventory, Tom attacked it as though it were a matter of life and death, working with dedication as if writing another book. In my experience, most men drag out the writing of this Step because it’s often a painful and difficult challenge, requiring a stark look at oneself. Not with Tom, though. It took him about two weeks to complete this assignment. He took the instructions “a fearless and thorough moral inventory” literally. He presented me with his life story, reviewing all of the numerous relationships in his life, the resentments he held, and the part he played in the problem.

The remaining Steps were done with equal dedication and alacrity. Upon completion of the Steps, I offered Tom the opportunity to work the Twelve Traditions of AA, which are included in the AA Step book, but are not considered mandatory. The Traditions are to the group what the Steps are to the individual, and Tom, being an organization leader, was quite curious as to how AA functioned.

On we went, tackling the Traditions one at a time, the same way we had worked the Steps. Tom was like a sponge, sopping up as much information about the workings of AA as he possibly could. I thought I knew a good deal about the history of AA, but Tom’s continual questioning caused me to delve deeper into our literature than I had ever previously done.

When we completed this task, Tom asked if we could go through the Twelve Concepts of World Service, which is how Bill Wilson, the co-founder of AA, explained the spiritual principles that undergird AA’s structure and how the parts work together. This was something I had never read before, but Tom’s curiosity made it impossible to refuse him. Unfortunately, we never got through this study, as he was taken ill shortly after we had begun.

The other thing I will always remember about Tom Hayden was his love of baseball and how we were able to share this love. Sure, we discussed politics and the upcoming election and how we both felt it essential to abandon Bernie and support Hillary as the only candidate we assumed would clobber Trump (wow, were we wrong about that!), but it was with baseball that we created our deepest bond.

Like Tom, I’ve been a lifelong Dodgers fan, so each Saturday morning after we completed our Step work, Tom and I would discuss the grand old game. Our conversations attacked it from every angle imaginable. Recent games, team roster, managerial decisions, trades we thought they should make, you name it. If it involved baseball, we talked about it. When Tom got really sick and was confined to his bed, I’d call him and replay the game I was watching on television to keep him current. I could picture him with his eyes closed, imagining the game.

I miss Tom and the relationship we created during the short two years I knew him. He was such a remarkable man. At the graveside memorial, I was moved when the pastor shared Tom’s last words to him: “Hillary must win!” I smiled and thought God took Tom when he did to spare him from what was about to happen.

God blessed all of us by Tom’s presence, and I’ll never forget the gift of his friendship.

Gary S. co-founded Gibson & Stromberg, a large and influential music public relations firm of the ‘60s and ‘70s. He also spent time in the film business where he produced the motion picture Car Wash (Universal Studios) and co-wrote and co-produced The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (Lorimar/United Artists). He has also co-written three books about recovery: The Harder They Fall (Hazelden) and Feeding the Fame (Hazelden) and a third book for McGraw-Hill Publishing, entitled Second Chances.

Help and support is within reach for you or a loved one battling addiction. Explore InRecovery’s national addiction treatment center directory now.
national addiction treatment center database

SHARE
Previous articleCrossTalk
Next articleThe Wishing Well

177 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you will be a great author.I will be sure to bookmark your blog and will often come back at some point. I want to encourage that you continue your great job, have a nice morning!

  2. There are awesome upgrades on the structure of this site, I definitely love that. My site is dealing with vshare download free and right now there are lots of things to be done, I’m yet still a starter in web development. Thanks!

  3. Wow! This could be one particular of the most useful blogs We have ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Wonderful. I am also a specialist in this topic therefore I can understand your hard work.

  4. Admiring the persistence you put into the site and in depth details you provide. It really is wonderful to find a website occasionally which isn’t the similar out of date re-written content. Excellent read! I’ve bookmarked your website and I’m adding the RSS feeds to my own router connection blog.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this info, I bookmarked the webpage. I am additionally attempting to find facts on free tv, are you aware the place where I can come across a thing such as that? I’ll come back very soon!

  6. Thanks a lot for discussing this, I saved the site. I am additionally looking for guidance on personal injury lawyers, do you know where I might find one thing like this? I’ll be back quickly!

  7. I always look over your articles attentively. I am likewise curious about pokemon go guide, maybe you could write about that at times. See you soon.

  8. Hi and thanks for this excellent post! I certainly liked it.I’ll be sure to bookmark your page and will often return from now on. I would love to encourage you to ultimately keep on with your good work, perhaps blog about lawn equipment also, have a superb evening!

  9. I just came over here via some other web page about video games online and considered I might as well check out this page. I enjoy the things I see therefore now I”m following you. Looking forward to finding out about your website back again.

  10. There’s terrific improvements on the style of this blog, I truly like this! My site is about international shipping cost and presently there are quite a lot of stuff to do, I’m yet still a newcomer in web design. Be careful!

  11. What i do not understood is in truth how you’re no longer really much more smartly-liked than you might be now. You are very intelligent. You know therefore considerably on the subject of this subject, made me personally believe it from a lot of various angles. Its like women and men are not involved except it’s one thing to accomplish with Lady gaga! Your own stuffs excellent. All the time care for it up!

  12. Appreciating the time and effort you invested in the site and detailed material you display. It’s great to come across a blog occasionally which is not the similar out of date re-written stuff. Fantastic read! I have bookmarked your webpage and I’m including your RSS feeds to my own tooth implant web page.

  13. An interesting discussion is price comment. I believe that you must write more on this matter, it may not be a taboo topic however typically individuals are not enough to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers

  14. There’s great improvements on the design of your site, I certainly love this. Mine is on the subject of full movies online and now there are a lot of things to be done, I’m currently a newcomer in internet site design. Take good care!

  15. Howdy! This is my very first comment on your website so I simply wanted to give a fast hello and say I really enjoy reading through your blog posts. Can you suggest other blogs that go over free movie? I’m also highly keen on that! Thanks a ton!

  16. Hey would you mind letting me know which web host you’re working with? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different internet browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot faster then most. Can you recommend a good web hosting provider at a reasonable price? Thank you, I appreciate it!

  17. My family and I certainly like your blog and find a lot of the blogposts to be exactly what I am in need of. Do you offer guest writers to post content for you? I wouldn’t mind creating a piece of text on more followers on instagram or perhaps on a number of the topics you write about on this site. Awesome website!

  18. I’m really loving the theme of your website. Do you encounter any browser compatibility situations? A lot of the website visitors have lamented concerning my commercial real estate website not working effectively in Internet Explorer though appears amazing in Opera. Are there any advice to assist correct that problem?

  19. I was speaking with a buddy of mine around this info and even regarding forex autopilot too. I feel you made some very good points in this article, we are looking forward to continue reading information from you.

  20. We really love your website and find a majority of the articles to be exactly I’m looking for. Do you offer other people to create material for you? I would not mind composing a piece of text on websites to watch movies or maybe on some of the subjects you write about on this page. Cool blog!

  21. Al Hadi AC Refrigration and Repairing is committed to giving your ACs a new lease of life. We have a team of experienced professionals which has serviced more than a 1000 units, much to the satisfaction of our clients. The effort at Al Hadi has always been to service a call in the shortest span of time and to close it with a happy client. The referrals we get is a testimony to our work. Try our services today!

  22. Howdy could you tell me which blog platform you’re dealing with? I am looking to get started with my own personal site on real estate search in the future though I am having a tough time making a choice.

  23. I’m impressed, I must say. Actually rarely do I encounter a weblog that’s each educative and entertaining, and let me inform you, you could have hit the nail on the head. Your concept is excellent; the problem is something that not sufficient people are speaking intelligently about. I’m very completely satisfied that I stumbled throughout this in my search for one thing referring to this.

  24. We really like your site and find a majority of your blog posts to be exactly I am looking for. Would you offer people to post articles for you? I wouldn’t mind publishing a piece of text regarding hair and vitamins or on some of the topics you’re posting about on this website. Awesome page!

  25. Are you tired of your ac repair in Dubai? Are you looking for Certified Professionals to carry out your ac repair with improved facilities and in an expert way?. Hot and humid conditions are not easy to tolerate, especially when you are not used to them. But, thanks to the air conditioners – living in such extreme settings can also become a pleasant experience, and more so if you are in Dubai.

  26. Hey there! This is my first reply on this site so I really wanted to say a quick shout out and say I truly enjoy reading your articles. Can you recommend any other blogs that deal with excel help? I am as well extremely hooked on that thing! Thank you so much!

  27. Hi there. I just found this excellent website and I truly like it. I also love to focus on av streaming from time to time. Good to be around, thanks!

  28. Hello there could you tell me which blogging platform you’re working with? I’m seeking to get started on my own personal site on uber parking ticket very soon yet I am having difficulty making a decision.

  29. ANPC is a free nation for and by the living men and women of the earth. This Private Nation is a grassroots association based out of Indonesia having its own International Charter, Peace Treaty, Constitution, Rules of conduct and has adopted the Declaration of Human Rights. These Treaties have been Registered by International Notice to the Hague and World Court as well as other agencies worldwide. The entire goal and mission of ANPC is WORLD PEACE and freedom for all the nationals of the world, focusing on a peaceful gathering together of all tribes and nations. Our living men and women are to live as Peaceful Inhabitants on the land, striving always to create a better world today and for future generations.

  30. I just want to say I am newbie to blogging and site-building and seriously loved you’re blog. Most likely I’m want to bookmark your site . You certainly come with really good articles. Thanks a bunch for sharing your web-site.

  31. “Wow, amazing weblog format! How lengthy have you ever been running a blog for? you make running a blog look easy. The total glance of your web site is fantastic, as well as the content material!”

  32. “I have noticed that over the course of building a relationship with real estate entrepreneurs, you’ll be able to get them to understand that, in every real estate exchange, a commission is paid. Eventually, FSBO sellers do not save” the commission. Rather, they try to earn the commission through doing a agent’s occupation. In this, they devote their money in addition to time to execute, as best they are able to, the tasks of an agent. Those jobs include getting known the home via marketing, delivering the home to all buyers, developing a sense of buyer urgency in order to prompt an offer, arranging home inspections, controlling qualification inspections with the loan provider, supervising fixes, and aiding the closing of the deal.””

  33. Sick and tired of being bored? There’s nothing at all good to watch on TV these days. How many cat videos can you watch at YouTube? What you really want is some live adult entertainment. That’s what http://www.camgirl.pw is all about. It’s 24/7 excitement like you’ve never seen before. Check it out and tell a friend. Something this good needs to be shared.

  34. “You could certainly see your expertise in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.”

  35. “I like the valuable information you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again here regularly. I’m quite sure I will learn plenty of new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!”

  36. “In accordance with my study, after a foreclosures home is offered at a sale, it is common for the borrower to be able to still have some sort ofthat remaining balance on the personal loan. There are many financial institutions who try to have all charges and liens paid by the upcoming buyer. Nonetheless, depending on a number of programs, restrictions, and state guidelines there may be quite a few loans that aren’t easily sorted out through the transfer of financial loans. Therefore, the responsibility still rests on the lender that has had his or her property in foreclosure process. Thank you for sharing your ideas on this weblog.”

  37. “Hello, Neat post. There is an issue together with your web site in web explorer, could check this… IE nonetheless is the market chief and a large component of folks will pass over your fantastic writing due to this problem.”

  38. The week has just begun and that means it’s time to relieve some stress. You’ve got plenty of work ahead of you. You’ll need all the relaxation you can sneak in. No one can melt the stress like a cam girl can. At http://www.camgirl.pw you’re sure to find a cutie that will make you forget all about whatever was stressing you out.

  39. “We are a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your web site provided us with valuable info to work on. You have done a formidable job and our whole community will be thankful to you.”

  40. Cool one! Interesting information over this website. It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be much more useful than ever before.| I could not resist commenting. I ‘ve spent 1 hour trying to find such informations. I’ll also share it with a couple of friends interested in it. I have just bookmarked this website. Right now with the job done, I will find some online Cams. Thank you!! Greetings from Europe!

  41. “Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but instead of that, this is excellent blog. An excellent read. I’ll certainly be back.”

  42. What i don’t understood is in truth how you’re now not actually much more smartly-appreciated than you may be now. You’re so intelligent. You recognize therefore significantly on the subject of this topic, produced me for my part consider it from so many various angles. Its like men and women don’t seem to be interested until it is something to do with Woman gaga! Your individual stuffs outstanding. All the time care for it up!

  43. I happen to be commenting to let you understand what a terrific encounter our child had going through your site. She came to understand plenty of pieces, with the inclusion of how it is like to possess a very effective teaching nature to get most people just completely grasp a number of tricky issues. You actually surpassed her expected results. Many thanks for imparting such informative, trusted, informative and also fun tips on the topic to Ethel.

  44. Admiring the persistence you put into your site and detailed information you present. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed information. Great read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  45. Can I simply say what a reduction to search out someone who actually is aware of what theyre talking about on the internet. You positively know learn how to convey a problem to mild and make it important. More individuals must read this and perceive this facet of the story. I cant consider youre not more widespread because you definitely have the gift.

  46. Hi there very nice web site!! Man .. Excellent .. Superb .. I will bookmark your website and take the feeds additionally…I’m happy to search out so many helpful information right here in the put up, we’d like develop extra techniques on this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .

  47. Hey very cool web site!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I’ll bookmark your web site and take the feeds additionally…I’m happy to search out so many helpful information right here in the publish, we’d like work out more strategies in this regard, thank you for sharing. . . . . .

  48. You’re in some serious need of relaxation. That’s where a site like http://www.camgirl.pw comes in handy. You can do a whole lot of relaxing there. You’ll find plenty of fun girls to talk to. These are the hottest and most wild girls on the internet. Chat with them and have yourself a good time.

  49. Cool info! Interesting article over this web. It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be much more useful than ever before.| I couldn’t resist commenting. I ‘ve spent some time looking for such informations. I will also share it with a couple of friends interested in it. I’ve just bookmarked this website. Done with the job done, I going to find some Russia model Cams. Thank you very much!! Regards from Mundial 2018!

  50. You’ve been working hard lately. All that stress has got to be eating at you. Why not take a break and enjoy some cam girls? There’s plenty of them to enjoy at http://www.camgirl.pw It’s wall to wall babes at this site. You’ll know that right away after your first visit.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here