On November 8, 1984 I was transferred into the drug and alcohol treatment facility on the 7th floor of Cabrini Hospital. I had been in the hospital for 4 days and it was obvious to pretty much everyone around me that I had a pretty substantial drinking and drug problem. That first night, after dinner, we were told we had to go to the dining room for a Narcotics Anonymous presentation. I didn’t want to go, but had to. That night, a guy came into the treatment center and talked about having been on death row in Huntsville and how he’d gotten a second lease on life, managing to get off of death row and eventually out of prison. He had been free for about 7 years and drug free for a little over 6. He spent his time going into treatment centers and prisons, carrying a message of recovery.
When I left the treatment center a couple weeks ago with a group to go to an "outside meeting", Earl was the first one who reached out to me, welcomed me to the meeting and actually remembered my name. As I got more involved in NA over the next few years, Earl and I got to know each other a little bit, and I even had a chance to go to Walla Walla with him one time where we took meetings to minimum security, and then to the maximum security inmates. Earl was able to relate to these men in a way few can.
Earl was a remarkable man, who always encouraged newcomers to recovery, always demonstrated a love for others who were trying to make meaningful change in their lives and always modeling total dedication to the 12-step way of life. He said things like “Just pick a birthday and keep it.” And he did. For 31 years.
Friday evening, November 7th, almost exactly 25 years to the day after I met Earl, this wonderful man and good friend passed away. Attending the weekly meeting of Friday Night Alive in the South King County area of NA, Earl was asked to speak. He went to the podium and shared with the group about recovery. Then he sat down again. A few minutes later, Earl suffered a massive heart attack and left the group.
While we never like losing our friends, our mentors, our leaders, it seems like this is a good passing for Earl. Sitting in a group of people he loved and who loved him. Doing the thing he loved most in life. He lived a good life and will be sorely missed.
Rest, my friend. You earned it.