I just saw on Facebook a tribute to the many talented people whom we lost this year – David Bowie, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Carrie Fisher, George Michael, Garry Marshall, Florence Henderson, Glenn Frey – and the list goes on. At the end of every year, there is a nostalgic look back at the major events and passings. This year there seems to be an exceptionally large number of them.

The lyrics of David Bowie, Prince, George Michael and others were  beyond brilliant.  Their songs were covered by many and quoted by teenagers filled with the angst and pains of their trying times. “And these children that you spit on as they tried to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations, they’re quite aware of what they’re going through” was a quote I referred to often in high school. Prince’s Purple Rain album also brings back memories of high school as our team colors were purple and white and our soccer team used to sing the song as “Purple Reigns”.

Florence Henderson will always be Mrs. Brady to me. Garry Marshall gave us Laverne and Shirley, Happy Days and other iconic shows we grew up with. Muhammad Ali was, of course, the Greatest and, as I have written before, kissed me on the cheek one summer day nearly 30 years ago.

But yes, time has indeed changed me. I am a completely different person than the one I was just five years ago thanks to my sobriety. I didn’t just stop drinking – I completely changed who I am at the core. In order to get sober and STAY sober, one must get down to the very root of what led to the drinking in the first place. Why the need for an escape? The need to be numbed? Did that teenage angst lead to the bottle? Did the family of origin fall far short of the Brady Bunch and result in not-so happy days?

Glenn Frey crooned in Depserado: “Your prison is walking through this world all alone.” I learned during the last few years of my sobriety how to break out of that prison and that I don’t have to walk alone. I have an incredible support system and for that I am truly blessed. I just received a call last night from a friend in between flights while traveling clear across the country to see if I was doing okay and give me a pep talk to get through the holidays without picking up a drink. He’s on my gratitude list.

George Michael never knew how right he was when he sang “ maybe we should all be praying for time.” It goes quickly. Take the time to enjoy it. To be real. To be present. To be grateful. And may the force be with you.

Dearly beloved we are gathered here together to get through this thing called life.” Prince, Let’s Go Crazy