Today I am 1,748 days sober. For those of you who aren't good at math (like moi), that's 4 years, 9 months, and 14 days. Big deal, right? Not much cause for celebrating a crazy number like that. Plus, the main reason my wife and I gave up drinking was as an act of solidarity: "Be the change you want to see in your son" is what the family therapist at my son's rehab facility told us in September of 2008. That's all we needed to hear.
My wife and I have been sober for nearly five years, but we don't really celebrate the dates we stopped drinking. Oh, sure; when September 10th rolls around each year I recognize the fact that it's a milestone for me. But there's not any fanfare other than maybe a post on Facebook or something.
Enter my son, who is just over a week away from having one year of clean and sober time under his belt. One year. Wow. When I think about that I am literally moved to tears. My son has struggled with depression and addiction since he was 15. Actually, the whole family has struggled because addiction is a family disease. There may be only one addict, but the entire family--immediate and extended--is sucked into the throes of addiction.
As my son has piled up months of clean time, we have celebrated quietly. When the second of the month rolls around, my wife and I express gratitude and tell our son how proud we are of him. Our son marks his anniversary at his AA meeting and his pride and confidence grow. And we all move on, one day at a time.
But when July 2nd rolls around in just a few days, it's going to be different. It's going to be special. It will be one of the proudest moments of my life.
It wasn't too long ago that I wondered if my son would ever achieve a year of sobriety. When you're the parent of an addict in recovery, you certainly hope for the best. And while you don't necessarily expect the worst, you know that it's always a possibility. That's why my wife and I have worked so hard to learn to live in the moment and appreciate every day for what it is.
I don't know if there's a "protocol" for celebrating or not celebrating your son being clean and sober for a year. But I do know this: My wife and I are going to celebrate. In fact, we will be celebrating by throwing a party for our son on the Saturday following his milestone date.
We will have a small to medium gathering of our friends, family, and our son's friends at our house. We will serve pizza, salad, and dessert--birthday cake seems appropriate--along with water and soda. It will, of course, be an alcohol-free event.
There will also be a very loud and talented rock and roll band playing in our backyard. A friend of ours is in a band called Destroy This Place, and its members were all cool with coming to our house and playing to help celebrate this occasion. (My wife and I passed letters out to all of the residents on our block and the next block over to warn them about the party and the loud band. We've received nothing but positive responses so far...let's hope no one complains on the day of the party!)
My wife and I don't host parties very often. But this is one party we felt we needed to throw, to celebrate the efforts and glorious achievement of our son. It will be fun to spend time with family members and friends who have been so supportive over the years. Celebrating sobriety.
P.S. Our son also just landed a new job. He's working with a contractor who installs and finishes hardwood floors. So far he's enjoying the work, the money, and being trained by the owner. He's working full time and that's a blessing.
P.P.S. Here's the latest music video from Destroy This Place. Maybe if we're lucky, they'll bring the deer mask to the party!