|Eyes for Your Heart|
I first noticed Bonnie at the Thursday Meditation Meeting held at the Saint Mary’s Retreat House next to the Mission.
She sat near the entrance to the room on the armchair where her feet dangled like a child's several inches from the rug, it hadn’t occurred to me that she was kind of short.
What attracted me to her was a mystifying… ever so slight quirky smile that had a mischievous nuance forewarning me that I best be on my toes if I wanted to get to know her better.
Several months went by while I admired her from afar… well, a few feet from where I usually sat.
I saw a few of her assemblages at the annual Buddha Abides art show and I liked her sense of humor and jewelers eye in her pieces. Most others in those shows displayed work that was reverent and serious but Bonnie’s had a wry quality that was respectful but down to earth.
At that time, I volunteered at Central Office. I’d been sober about 8 or 9 years. Tim W. was the manager then and what I liked about volunteering there with Tim was that it was quiet time for me. We spoke shortly, getting to know each other, and in those days, Central Office was a serene place in which an alcoholic could come in a chat without it being too public. On one particular occasion Bonnie came in to get a card or something. Tim planted the seed after she left saying, George, Bonnie never comes in here.”
“Really? What are you saying, Tim?”
“I’m just saying she never comes to Central Office, that’s all.”
One of my fellow dispatchers at Yellow Cab, Robin W., had been a friend of Bonnie’s too. They had been pals in Casa Serena. I told her I was interested in Bonnie. Robin paid no attention to my probe and it really got under my skin when she hooked up Bonnie on a date with one of our drivers. He was a nice, normal, and stable, guy but I could tell he wasn’t a good match for Bonnie. One has to appreciate Bonnie's non-linear ways. This part of her can’t be explained… you have to see her art work to catch that or hear one of the wildly revealing open-ended honesty of hers shares in AA. I just knew I would never be bored in a million years if I could just get close to her.
It wasn’t until I got a motorcycle that she began warming up to me. Fellas, there’s nothing like a motorcycle as an aphrodisiac for a woman like Bonnie.
She began asking me to come over to her pace to replace light-bulbs. She was too short to do it on her two-step ladder. Those damned thing burned out on a regular basis. After performing my manly duties her body language said, okay, thanks but see ya. I’d kind of insisted on a hug and she obliged with one of those pat-pat hugs.
Okay, nothing was happening there. This went on for a year.
Finally, one March Sunday, after the service at the Vedanta Temple, our friend Judy J. asked, “Are you and Bonnie an Item?”
“No, I’d like that but she doesn’t give me much feedback. Besides, I’m concerned, she seems to have a lot of health problems and I’m not sure if I want to get involved.”
I had to work that night so, after the Vedanta I went home to be. I was dozing off when I got the call… Bonnie was crying. She’d been told she couldn’t be admitted to 5 East without a Dr.’s okay. Could I please come and get her.
Now, I’m no knight in shining armor… at least not for anyone else. Without thinking about it at all, I was there in a few minutes at the ER. We got to her house… I tucked her in I asked her to tell me where all her drugs were and dumped all the Soma in the toilet. She asked me not to leave… I stayed.
March 18th 2007 was the beginning of an unbelievable and never boring relationship. The bond was so strong that nothing could break it.
I wouldn’t be telling this story if I didn’t feel honored to tell it. For all the lonely hearts in the rooms of AA I can say that at 9 years of sobriety I had resigned at the age of 60 to the idea that I would be alone the rest of my life and that any chance for meaningful love had passed me by. It took 9 years of preparation to be able to love. The remarkable thing was that Bonnie reciprocated and doubled down on it. No matter what we went through it was easy for me because we cared deeply for the best to come for us both. And my feeling now is that I have experienced a love I would not have believed existed except for that "Ever After" BS from fairy tales. I now know that I am one of the few happy ones that can say I found love that was "Ever After" and I need no more proof of it.
Besides, Bonnie sometimes wore a Ramones T-shirt and she loved the Blues and Reggae. My feeling has always been that any woman that could love the Blues, Reggae, and the Ramones was okay with me even though I could never get her into Country it was okay… three out of four was pretty good. I didn’t want a Stepford wife that likes EVERYTHING I do.
Bonnie loved Northern Idaho and my family at Priest Lake in spite of the pain she suffered to get there via the long road trip with me. They loved her too. She fit right in and was so comfortable there. I rarely saw her that happy anywhere else.
I might add that, though Bonnie was loved by so many, she suffered from depression. Depression is a cruel disease that tricks the mind into thinking we are all alone. This happens no matter how thoroughly one works the steps, gathers a gaggle of sponsees, or becomes a paradigm of service to others. Drinking and drugs aren’t the solution and the program of recovery in AA doesn’t claim to be the cure for everything. We yield all we can to the Heart of Compassion no matter whether we call it God or a Higher Power. It is compassion that saves us all and compassion sometimes says, get professional help. Bonnie did that but still felt isolated and fought the disease with her whole heart and soul.
Her heart was so big that it just gave out. So, Sweet Bonnie, our friends are here to bid you farewell and to express our shared gratitude for the love you gave us all.