44. Heading Toward Redemption

Heading Toward Redemption

The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.

John‬ ‭3:29‬ ‭‬

From the time I entered Recapture Tactics Team,1 life never stopped getting better. Austin too was on his own upward trend as well. Pictures of him and his new girlfriend on social media provoked my envy. I’d never had a girlfriend though I wanted one so bad. I wanted a beautiful companion to live life with, but one never seemed to cross my path when everyone else seemed to find women easily.

Wright for example, when we were in Designated Marksman school together, was engaged to a girl named Brandy. A few months later, he found out she was unfaithful to him and broke up with her after calling off the wedding. Within six months he started dating a girl named Emma and six months after that married her. And no, it wasn’t one of those quick ridiculous marriages guys in the military often find themselves in, only to divorce less than a year later. He actually rebounded within six months and six months later began and is now sustaining a fruitful marriage.

Then there’s Austin.  Less than a year after serving in LA county jail and only a few months after completing his recovery program did he meet a gal from Oroville Nazarene church named Alyssa. A few months later he began populating his Facebook page with cute selfies of the two of them with enormous grins. A few months after that he proposed. 

Certainly I was happy for him and excited to attend his wedding, but I must say I was butthurt as well. I mean hell, if Wright could find and marry a girl a year after breaking off an engagement and Austin in the same timeframe can leave jail, quit serious addictions and do the same, why couldn’t I, being a relatively  normal, decently attractive human find someone to date, let alone marry? All my coveting aside, just as I flew to Tennessee to be in Wright’s wedding I left Washington to attend Austin’s wedding down in Oroville, California. 

Since his time out of jail, Austin continued his AA meetings, attended church every Sunday and started his own small business creating websites for clients. Though he didn’t make great money, he did earn enough to make ends meet and provide for his newly forming family. For this reason, the wedding was small with the ceremony and reception held at their church.

During the rehearsal dinner, Austin shared a lengthy, poetic love letter describing the journey that led him to Alyssa. He opened up the hidden passions of his heart as he walked us through his love story, from the darkness of his addicted self, to the moment he laid eyes on Alyssa, to the terror of slipping his hand to hold hers for the first time in the car, to the day he asked her to marry him. He also paid homage to dad, tearfully crediting our father for making Austin the man he is today.

Austin couldn’t afford a fancy suit, so I needed to dress down to a shirt, tie and slacks for the ceremony. Outshining the groom in my dress blues standing next to his bride seemed like a convincing rationale to wear less distinguishing attire. After the ceremony, food, music and laughter filled the darkening sky. 

We watched the first dance. Austin gripped Alyssa as they swayed through the eye dampening melody of dad’s song, Sail Away

And when we get old, and we’re wrinkled and gray

You will still be right here by my side

And I’ll never forget since the day that we met

All the times that we laughed and we cried

And when death meets me at the horizon

And I part with my lover and friend

I know you’ll take care of the friendship

‘Til we sing our chorus again

I briefly lost the happiness of the moment as the song teleported me to the last time I’d heard it at dad’s funeral.2 As I listened, I couldn’t help but hear the lies dad sang. He never grew wrinkled and gray, mom wasn’t by his side, and rather than sailing into the afterlife at sunset he abandoned ship midday. Though written with the best of intentions and sung with passionate, youthful desire that all but guaranteed its fulfillment, the lyrics were now tainted with the bitter aftertaste of unkept promises. Perhaps dad’s song would serve his sons better than him. I suppose, at this moment it did. 

The sourness turned sweet as I remembered the joy of the occasion that carried through until the night deepened and the music faded. Soon thereafter we made our way to the parking lot to bid the bride and groom farewell. They both looked so happy. Austin opened the passenger door of the car, took Alyssa’s hand and gently assisted her in. He then took the helm and the two of them sailed away to their honeymoon. 

I felt peaceful, content, warm. Finally both of us were now in a good spot. The last time the two of us were doing well simultaneously must have been before the divorce. Somehow, out of all the rubble of our childhood, I managed to be a corporal in the Marine Corps and he was a married, former addict now working his own web design business. How we managed to end up here was beyond me. Somehow, by God’s grace, both of our wildly divergent paths we were both heading toward redemption.

  1. My first post about entering RTT is called Bowl of Veggies
  2. The chapter about dad’s funeral is called Dust

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