Every year we gather with alumni, celebrating experience, strength, and hope. This year was nothing short of magical and inspiring. We started the weekend off with an alumni speaker who shared her story. It was privilege to have seen this woman on her first day of treatment and then see her sharing her story five years later. A privilege that makes me grateful for this work and community. There are a lot of hugs shared, “I haven’t seen you in so long!”, donuts being eaten and coffee brewing.
After the speaker meeting we have a memorial for people we have lost. We have several 36 inch balloons lit up with lights and the initials of everyone we have lost in our Ascend family.
This year I wrote 40 initials.
In the past 10 years, Ascend has treated and grieved the loss of 40 patients. As I sit staring at this sentence, my heart aches. I think about their families that mourn every day for them. I think about how serious this disease is and just how precious life is.
This year it was cold; snow surrounding us all. You could hear the crackle of the fire pit burning behind us. As I stood in the circle, I scanned the area and saw the faces of the people that are fighting this disease. I saw friends of the people we have lost— And it’s almost like I can see the memories that are playing in their minds of those they have lost. I look up at the initials and think about each and every one. I remember the day I picked them up from the airport and sat them in the office with Greg for their admission into treatment. And I told them that things were going to get better. That time was their best friend in their journey ahead. The music from Matts guitar started playing, the candles were lit, and our reflection continued. Ryan released a balloon and the others followed. Everyone’s heads tilted up watching as the balloons fly away like fireflies in the sky. The shining balloons stay in sight for what seems to be forever and I can feel the tears on my cheek. Then they are gone. We continue with silence even though Matt has finish singing “Landslide”, just embracing this moment we get to share with each other and those we have lost. Until I heard, “God.”
The crowd responds: “God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
There are noses sniffling in the background, people embracing each other. And we all go our separate ways, our hearts a little heavier.
The next day, everyone met at the “G”. It is a hike that many of the patients hiked when they got to Lakehouse. It was supplied with bagels, pastries, OJ, and the 10-year anniversary sweatshirts from Ascend. I always enjoy seeing everyone coming down the mountain after the hike saying, “Man, it was a lot easier this time compared to when I was in treatment.” I think it gives them time to reflect, hiking that mountain newly sober and where they are in their lives now.
That evening we met at the big Holiday party filled with dinner, raffle gifts, a photo booth, and Santa. It’s a great way to wrap up the weekend and to get to visit with everyone that has come to celebrate the holidays. The raffle was a way to benefit the Riley Foundation. There were more than 40 items including Apple Air Pods and Apple watch, Castle Bounce House, gifts card for skiing, massages, dinners, and much more! I look forward to this event every year and I am already planning the weekend for 2019! The Alumni Reunion is not the only event we host. We have Women’s Retreats, Men’s Retreats, and monthly activities.
If you want more information about our Alumni Program and want to be on the contact list, please email me, call, or text me.
Mallie Tucker :: firstname.lastname@example.org :: 801.647.1266