Rick Mabie: “I didn’t want to live”
As the eulogy for his father droned on, Rick Mabie, 26, seethed silently with anger. “My dad was my best friend,” recalls Rick. “He was the best man at my wedding. We were very close. You know how, with some people, one person can finish a sentence that another began–we were like that.”
Rick’s father died of “a massive heart attack” at 57. At his funeral in 1984, “I couldn’t talk–I snapped,” remembers Rick, and, from that day forward, “I hated God for taking my father from me.”
When asked to tell his story, Rick, the sixth of nine children, begins with the moment at age 14 when he overheard a conversation–for that was how he discovered his dad was not his natural father. “I thought, ‘He’s not my dad?’ But to me he always was and always will be my dad. He was the spiritual leader of our household.”
After his parents divorced when Rick was 17, he left with his father. That same year he began driving a U.S. mail truck. In time, Rick recalls, “I started getting longer hauls and began taking pills–speed.” He felt the drug use simply went with the occupation. “I never considered myself an addict.”
Married at twenty, Rick soon became a father. After his dad’s death, however, things changed dramatically. “I just didn’t care anymore. I didn’t want to live. I became the kind of person who–if you put a gun to his head–would tell you to pull the trigger. I would put a gun to your head, and, believe me, I would have pulled the trigger. I never went to prison, but, by all rights, I should have.
“That’s when I began transporting dope (methamphetamines) cross-country.” Rick did this for five years–until some close encounters with the law. Afterwards, “I still had the addiction but (instead of getting the drugs free) I’m buying them.” As his addiction progressed, it impacted his marriage, leading eventually to separation.
Then, in 1993, Rick had what he considers his epochal “moment of clarity”–“I’m lying in a field at two in the morning, looking up at the sky, thinking, ‘I want to die. There’s the 15 freeway; in just a minute, I can be out there.’ I hated God, but my dad raised me right. And that day, for the first time, I said, ‘God, help me!’ I put it all on his big shoulders.”
Rick recalls how later a policeman pulled him over on the highway. “Officer Jim Wiley” turned out to be a church deacon who “began talking to me.” Asserts Rick: “God brought him to me.” Later when he was “jumped by some guys” who believed he had “rolled over on them,” Officer Wiley put Rick up at a “safe house.”
Secure in the motel room, Rick found himself despairing, wondering: “Where’s my life going? I lost my family. I lost my job. I have nothing.” Following the soul-searching, he began attending a Free Methodist Church where he “gave (his) life back to God.” Rick enrolled in the church’s recovery program, and four months later–in February 1997– he checked into the Riverside County ARC in Perris, Calif.
At the ARC, Rick says, a counselor “made me write a letter to my father. It was only a paragraph, and it killed me (to write it); but subsequently I let (the anger) go. I still read that letter. I wrote, ‘I’m sorry, father.'”
After graduating, Rick became a volunteer at the ARC, teaching a weekly recovery class. He has since also reconciled to his wife of 24 years.
“You know, I still don’t understand everything. But now I accept the fact that I’m not here to understand, so I just let it go. By all rights I should be doing 25 to life, but I know now that God had a plan.”