I have long considered Swenny the luckiest alcoholic. His health is intact, and so is his family. In October, when he lost his job, two better jobs were presented to him the very next day. Where I once searched hardship for the lessons to inspire his sobriety, I no longer believe they will be found by paying a price. Instead, I believe they can be found in the grace and gifts that are continually bestowed. Including recently the opportunity to share dinner with old friends.
After not seeing or even speaking with each other for eight years, Swenny was contacted by an old friend – a fraternity brother and groomsman – planning to be in town. A dinner invitation was immediately extended, instantly accepted, and then made to another friend and member of our wedding party who recently moved back to town after more than a decade away.
Handshakes were met with hugs, and the friends picked up where they left off, as if no years or miles existed between them. Catching up made way for reminiscing, and storytelling commenced. At that moment, there was more around our table than three old friends sharing a meal and good company. Joy was there, too. In the tears the men shed as they laughed until they cried, and in the stories they told, again and again, to extend the evening a little longer. And a little longer still.
As the night’s close started to cast its inevitable shadow, our children began to see their dad through the eyes of his oldest friends. Listening to the stories being shared, they came to understand the role he played in some of the best days of his friends’ lives, and of theirs in his.
Before goodbyes were said, grace joined us. Just in time to introduce Swenny’s children to their dad as the friend any man would be lucky to have.