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[ Personal Narratives ]

The Smell of the Rain in Recovery

Our senses are our gateway to distant memories, a smell or a sight can so easily transport you to another time and make it seem vividly real. You can remember how you felt in the moment, what you heard or what you may have said. With hindsight you can maybe even envision things you would’ve changed or done differently at that time. Or, maybe you hold that visual moment as long as you can…wishing true reality wouldn’t return, but ultimately it will. 

For me, its the smell of rain. I have always loved the smell of rain, it always felt like the world way of washing away the bad, creating a fresh start for the days to come. As the raindrops fall onto the pavement baked in the afternoon sun, an unmistakable scent fills the air…and you can smell the rain.

The rain is my time machine, it takes me back to the milestones in my life that ultimately led me to today. I am fortunate to be here to share and it is by no mistake or miracle that I am…but its the moments that smell of rain that I hold dear.

22 years ago, I lost my best friend, a person I envisioned as family whom I loved with my entire heart. Senseless violence took him and at that moment took me too. The pain was more than I could bare, it was excruciating and relentless.  It devoured me and slowly I became empty and cold. All I can remember of his funeral is the smell of the rain as it cleansed the world for his departure. 

Unable to shake the pain, my friends and I began using cocaine. The numbness was euphoric- finally I didn’t have to feel, I didn’t have to care…I could manage to walk through the abyss my life was becoming. Rapidly my only concern was staying numb which skyrocketed my addiction. There are countless times I shouldve died but yet there I was trapped in my own version of hell.

 I cared about nothing….there was nothing that meant anything to me. No one could reach in because I was no longer there. I was the drug and the drug was me. I can’t say I minded that, if no one could get close….I couldn’t be hurt. Being painless was my only objective.

I wasn’t afraid of death,  it wasn’t something I put much thought into honestly. Over the years, I saw more than my share of it. Cocaine was killing us all one by one. I was losing everyone and everything,  in sober state all of these people were family to me, yet I barely recall losing them. However once again, they all come to a clear fruition every time I smell the rain.

It was after I was completely alone and had buried all of my dear friends that the rain gave me clarity. Sitting under a bridge, coming down, listening to the rain….my true reality hit me and hit me hard. I could finally see what I had become and was starting to feel everything I had been running from. The sadness, the pain, the guilt…it was flooding in and I had no means to stop the inevitable tidal wave to come. I gave in and cried, cried until the tears could no longer fall. I screamed to the heavens as if my friends could hear me, “How could you leave me all alone?” I remember screaming it repeatedly until my voice gave out.

There was a part of me that expected an answer from that dark sky, I remember thinking why aren’t they coming? They were gone, that’s why. For some reason, for some purpose…I was still here. But why?

I checked into rehab the next day, either I was going to truly live or I was going to die. The outcome didn’t matter to me at the time, I just wanted one or the other to happen. Regardless the deaths of the people I held dear would not be meaningless one way or the other.

It is their hearts, I carry with me. It is their spirits that I try to keep immortal. It is my hope, my dream, to reach into the abyss and help someone find their new path and take a new breath in life. To let the rain cleanse their path to make a new one as it did for me.

The rain is my benchmark, my cornerstone. It is the object that ties me to my past as a constant reminder to walk forward. I still love the rain and every moment it brings back to me. It will forever be the key to my past, my stepping stone to today and my path to many tomorrows. 18 years and counting and I am still writing my story.