Amazing GraceI smashed an alarm clock once... into teensy tiny bits. It was the same night that i kicked the toilet out of the floor. I was drunk. I was angry. I was twenty one years old and a day. My grandfather had died that morning... across the country. He died while fireworks splattered the Santa Monica horizon just before the sun rose to erase them. It was July 4th 1989, my father had come to Los Angeles to visit and to take me home to New England where his own father was dying.
The news of Papa's death had come to me as i lay passed out from the previous day's "birthday celebration." It had been a dangerously exciting day on Entrada Lane. There was a reggae festival in the Tex Mex parking lot across the road and my best friend and I were determined to party harder than all our boy friends who were twice our size and ten years older. I took ecstasy and drank a case of beer and danced like a madwoman with the Rasta's. In the early evening hours I slipped down an embankment and the glass bottle I was gripping for life hit the cement below and embedded itself into the palm of my hand... an alcoholic stigmata. The accident had set off a crying fit and a security guard carried me across the street to my hole in the wall one room apartment and put me to bed where I cried myself from black out to pass out.
Hours later Kym shook me back to consciousness to tell me that my father had called and that she needed to take me to his hotel so we could fly back to Boston for the funeral.
Kym was my brunette twin, we were attached at the hip since the first time we met. She got me up and packed my suitcase, making sure to throw in my one black dress while I stormed through the dirty beach apartment cursing, crying and breaking whatever I could break. My heart was broken and I wanted all of my things to also be as ruined. She corralled me into her car and carefully drove me to the Marriott that my father was staying in.
These are the things friends do.
Sometimes i reluctantly recall that weekend. I think of my father who had lost his father... I think of how i left him in his hotel and tripped on ecstasy and danced to reggae as he struggled with the imminent passing of his dad three thousand miles away. I know he was there to try and save me. He had come in an attempt to keep from losing two people he loved that summer. There was no way to save my grandfather from the spreading cancer and his long life. But he could save his wild child daughter who was drinking herself to an early demise in sunny california.
My father and I made it to the funeral. I sang "Amazing Grace" at the service. It was held in the Catholic Church my dad had attended every Sunday as a child, a block from the house he grew up in on Russet Rd. It was ironic as no one would need that amazing grace more than I over the following year. Shortly after the funeral I travelled back to Los Angeles and continued my reckless and relentless lifestyle. It would not be the last time my father came to try and save me from myself. He came again and again to try and help me. It took another year of near death experiences, alcohol and cocaine poisoning, hospital visits, an arrest, rehab... before I was willing to go home and save myself.
I was given such amazing grace.. and such an amazing father.