The atmosphere at the club is chaotic; there’s a Halloween potluck and dance assembling. Friends flit in and out and talk, smoking or vaping outside and loudly laughing; the energy is high. Flirtations – eyes casting about at one another. Parcels of hot food unwrapped and placed on the tables. It’s cold and crisp outside and warm and convivial indoors. I love seeing people in costume – some of them rag-tag or incomprehensible, others quite developed. You discover a little more about your friends when you see them in their glad rags.

I take a little window cleaner and a corner of paper towel and erase “Kelly H.” from the whiteboard. My name has been there two years and five months exactly; I’ve chaired a meeting every single Saturday. If I was out of town or had a medical event, I found a substitute. There were no no-shows on my watch. I discharged my duties whether I was feeling like it or not; it was a heartbeat in my life, no matter the chaos or confusion. Even in these last few months when I’ve experienced unwanted attentions from another attendee, I didn’t give up. I showed up. I’ve done this kind of service, a committed volunteer stint, for the seven and a half years I’ve been sober. I’ve been on committees, assisted at treatment centers, provided rides, built websites, and made flyers. I’ve simply balanced these duties in my (already busy) life and refused to make an excuse. Anyone who’s lived through what I have can understand.

I also know though, as I say my goodbyes and huddle my coat about me – off to another meeting, a candlelight one – that I will feel a sorrow in the next weeks, to not have this commitment. The meeting will continue of course – there are others to step up. The friendships I made in this commitment will be in my heart for life; when I see attendees about town our hearts will leap in a small and familiar way and we will greet one another. And I will remember these two and a half years with a bittersweet nostalgia.

And now – as a friend of mine says – “on to the next thing.”