January 2020

Jesse woke up with a groan, which turned into tears when she remembered last night. I filled a glass of water and set it on the table next to her two-month chip, forcing myself not to slam the glass down. She wouldn’t meet my eyes, or couldn’t.

“James,” she said. “I’m sorry.”

“I know.”

I understood of course. Understood she was struggling after the Kat’s funeral. Understood why she’d gone out under the pretense of meeting her sponsor. Maybe she even intended to, when she got in the car. I could even understand why she’d ended up at a pub with Kat’s friends at her side and a glass in her hand, adding one more broken promise to a growing list.

But now I can’t pretend I wasn’t disappointed, angry, when she left that bar to pick up our daughter Lily, and drove home with liquor on her breath.

As I grab my bag in one hand and Lily’s hand in the other, I remind myself it’s a sickness, that I shouldn’t demonize her. But when our daughter’s life is in danger, it’s about more than blame. I didn’t mean to slam the door when I left. At least I don’t think I did.