How do you grieve for someone who you didn't really like? I'm struggling with that issue right now, and strangely enough, I'm truly grieving. I'm finding out that agreeing with and always liking someone are entirely different things than valuing and respecting that person.

Jack was hit by a car about a month ago. Jack died a week ago. I can't believe I'm even thinking this, but the world is a lesser place with Jack gone.

I knew Jack through Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings. Jack was known as one of the AA Nazis, a term we used for those who were very zealous about interpreting AA principles in their narrowest sense. In real life, that meant that Jack didn't like to talk about anything in AA meetings except drinking alcohol or the AA program. Jack didn't like people in the meetings talking about addictions other than alcohol, life problems that only tangentally related to alcoholism, or and beliefs that weren't specifically addressed in the AA program.

Jack was rough spoken, rude at times, not very clean, and uneducated. He was everything I didn't like. We disagreed on almost everything we ever talked about. Jack had lived a tough life, with few advantages and many hardships. Jack had worked as a commercial fisherman for many years, only lately retiring and living off odd jobs. He wasn't very lovable, but I'm surprised to be saying that I loved Jack.

Jack appealed to those who came into the AA rooms for help, but couldn't see themselves hugging anyone. Jack's appearance, manner, and words were those of a man who'd fought life every step of the way, and found a way to surrender to the AA program while keeping his rough edges intact. Jack was proud of those rough edges, and they were what made him Jack. Jack helped alot of people find sobriety who might not have stayed in the program if he hadn't been there.

I remember a meeting where I was extremely upset about something. I remember crying (as many people do) as I spoke during the meeting, and my feeling of being helpless, different, and hopeless. After the meeting Jack came up and enfolded me in his huge, rather smelly embrace. That hug, from the man who didn't hug people, made all the difference in the world to me that day. That day I needed Jack and he was there.

Goodbye Jack. I didn't like you very often, and I agreed with you even less, but I loved you and I'm glad I knew you.