It's been a week since our return to Croatia, a week since Niko and I laid our father to rest, and while I feel his loss on a far deeper level then I ever thought I would, I find myself haunted by an even greater fear.
When I first learned of my father's illness, there was no question of my coming back home to make sure that he had the care he needed, and while I would have liked to have had Abby and Joe with me, it wasn't possible. Little did I realize at the time what a hardship my being gone was going to cause to my family, and especially to Abby.
When I returned to Chicago with Niko, I realized something was different, between Abby and I, and at first I thought it was merely the strain of our separation. I guess I expected there would be some difficulties, after all, I had left her to deal not just with taking care of everything involved with the household, but, with taking care of Joe as well. I can't really blame her for thinking that my return to Croatia might be a sort of vacation for me, a chance for me to reunite with friends I hadn't really had a chance to see in far too long, without the responsibilities she had to shoulder. I just never imagined things had gotten as bad as they did while I was gone.
Learning that Abby had relapsed was a shock. Even as she confessed to me that she had gone back to drinking while I'd been gone, I couldn't help feeling there was something else being left unsaid. All those years she had put into her sobriety were gone and without saying it to her, I have to wonder if there were ever a time when Joe's life had been put in danger because of her lapse.
Her decision to remain behind while Joe returned to Croatia with me is something that I still find difficult to accept, if only because I think that her drinking is something that affects all of us. I know if Joe and I were with her we could provide a strength and stability she needs during this time. I understand too, her wanting to focus on herself initially, but, I can't shake the fear that something may happen during this time to make her decide that coming back to Joe and I will prove more harmful to her then beneficial, and I don't know how I would ever explain that to our son.
Spending so much time now with Joe, I can't imagine ever being parted from him again, and if in fact Abby does decide that she has to make a choice between being with us and remaining sober, I think we'll stay here. I realize what a hardship that will make for her, but I don't think I could go back to that life if she weren't a part of it, and as hard as it would be for me, it would be ten times worse for Joe.
I don't want to think the worst, and sitting here now on the porch of my father's house with my son playing nearby, I'm trying to remain positive, but, it isn't easy. As the sun begins to sink behind the clouds, and Joe crawls onto my lap I find myself wishing I could pick up the phone and call Abby, if only so he can hear her voice, and know she hasn't deserted him. Maybe that in itself is my biggest fear of all, for as difficult as all of this is for me, he's so young and all he knows is that his mama is gone, and he has no idea where she is or when if ever she'll be coming back to him.