The next morning everyone was up and moving bright and early as it is fairly difficult to sleep with the sun streaming through all the windows in the house. Although I was still a bit tired I was anxious to see what the day would bring on this trip to seclusion and emotional therapy. It was the first Easter I had spent with a family in many years and I wanted to cherish every moment.
Priscilla’s aunt had immediately taking a liking to me, and had told her family that I could return and visit anytime. Seemed a bit odd to me considering I still had a few days left and had only arrived the day before but I was happy to be accepted and loved. After peeking my head out of the room, she called me over to show me something. They were going to be making their own cheese.
Like a little kid I was excited to see of what this process consisted. Step 1 – Milk the cow. Although I had spent a lot of time on a ranch growing up around cattle, I had never actually milked a cow. Pricilla’s aunt was a pro, and was able to fill the bucket below the utter with each movement of her hand. I on the other hand got about one stream of milk into the bucket about each 3rd try until finally getting the hang of it. It probably would have taken me about an hour to fill one glass, the others filled the bucket in about the same amount of time. The milk was then mixed with some items which they told me the name of but did not register. It would need to sit out for the remainder of the day to form the cheese. I kept thinking to myself, well why is cheese so expensive in the markets in Costa Rica?
After watching the cheese making process, everyone headed down to the river in order to cool ourselves from the heat in San Carlos. On the way we all stopped and watched an ant eater climb through one of the over-hanging trees. It looked amazing in its free environment searching for its lunch. A few more steps down the embankment to the river we stopped again to watch two white faced monkeys swing between the branches of the trees above. All I kept thinking was so this was Costa Rica…… it was a Costa Rica I had never experienced being lost in the drugs and the alcohol the past 4 years in the country.
As we all arrived at the river I again just stood there and took everything in. The rover flowed calmly over the rocks as the entire family jumped in its waters. The children were frolicking and splashing each other. Then a couple of the fathers were in the water both playing with their kids and keeping a watchful eye on them. And in the middle of the river showing a little already from the pregnancy in her bikini was Priscilla. She looked like an angel to me in that sunlight o that day. Although I knew that the entire situation would be hard, the only thing I kept thinking was if she and I were together I would be the luckiest man alive; being able to share my life with my best friend.
I snapped out of daydream mode to dive into the river and swim near Priscilla. After joking with her for a few minutes about being pregnant in a bikini and then of course telling her she was beautiful, she asked if I would give a testimonial at the church for Easter. Being that I would do anything for her I immediately said yes. There was a bit of a problem, since I quit drinking I realized that I was very shy and feared rejection. Something that alcohol pushed to the back of my mind. I was terrified of giving this testimonial in front of a room of strangers. I had to start preparing.
After about 20 more minutes at the river I headed back and began preparing for the next day. I wrote out what I was going to say. Oh forgot to mention the testimonial was going to be in Spanish. I wrote down everything that I was feeling at that moment on my path of life, what I was experiencing with this trip to San Carlos, and the feelings of peace and love that I was surrounded by each day during my recovery. Reflecting back this this was the point I felt hope again in my life. There was a hope for a better tomorrow and a possibility of my heart finally being at peace.
After another long day we all headed to our respected sleeping quarters to try to get some rest before the festivities the next day. Other than Priscilla getting annoyed with her mom and running to sleep by her father, who was not very happy about being awoken, in the middle of the night the night was uneventful. It seemed as soon as I drifted off the sun was popping its head up the following day.
For anyone that has not experienced the Catholic celebration of Easter and the Stations of the Cross it is worth doing at least one time in your life. It does not matter what your belief system is the experience of going through it truly is spiritual. The object of the Stations is to help the faithful to make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer, through meditating upon the chief scenes of Christ’s sufferings and death. In San Carlos as it is with many small towns in Costa Rica, it is based around the soccer field which is located next to the church. The entire group of us went through the 14 stations stopping and listening and praying. Although it was a religious ceremony I would brush my hand against Priscilla’s when I had the chance and she would do the same to me, trying to hide any connection we had to her mother.
After going through the Stations of the Cross we all went to the church for a service and prayer. I tried to understand as well as I could what was going on, but basically everyone had what they needed to say at certain times memorized so it was more an activity of standing up when everyone else stood up, doing the same for sitting down and then watching everyone in the room.
After the service it was then announced that I would be talking to the group. The absolute terror inside began to come to fruition when thinking about this public speaking assignment I was doing. Even though I knew I would never see many of these people ever again, I felt faint and weak. I think Priscilla saw that fear in my eyes as she immediately stood up and walked over to accompany me to the front of the church. She said she would introduce me and tell them a little bit about what happened to me.
Hearing someone talk about your past can hurt. Listening to my story come from the lips of the woman I was falling in love with more each day, drove nails into my soul. Hearing about how I was arrogant and rude, how I was drunk and using drugs, how I used to gamble, how I used to womanize, and so many things that were my past and always would be a part of my past brought pain and embarrassment into my heart. However, knowing that Priscilla knew all this about me and still could see the man I could be brought a smile to my face as she wrapped up the story and turned it over to me.
As I began I apologized for any poor Spanish and then summarized the story that Priscilla had told. Then I threw my heart on the table. I expressed how those people that had been beside me through this entire process and recovery were in my heart and always would be who I considered family. I spoke about my depression and sadness that was kept bottled up inside and drowning these emotions into an endless abyss with shots of alcohol and anything else that would make it disappear, if only for a little while. If these people were looking for an honest display of emotions and all armor of a human taken off and left vulnerable, that is what they received. I had to look down most of the time I spoke as to not get nervous and to lose concentration while translating in my head what I wanted to express. If I was only able to touch one of those kids or adults in that church that day it was worth every bit of pain that was felt while delivering the message.
As I finished I wondered if anyone had even listened to me or if it had touched anyone to either help change their life or steer clear of the path and life I had left behind. I wondered if my Spanish had been good enough to get the point and emotions across. I looked up at Priscilla who had kept her hand on my shoulder while I spoke and I had my answer…..tears ran down her cheeks.
Next Up – Adjusting to a Sober Life