Thursday, July 31, 2008

Prompt 24.2: Are you happy with your current relationship?


Happy is not exactly the word I would choose to describe what I'm feeling with how things are with our relationship right now. Abby and I are working through a difficult time.  We've both made mistakes, we've made some choices that, knowing what we know now, likely wouldn't have made, but, most importantly, we're trying to repair the damage. Knowing that, if I had to choose one word to describe how I feel, disappointed would probably be the one.

When Abby and I got married, we were happy. We had a healthy son, and despite the worries we might have had during those first weeks of his life, we believed he had conquered all the obstacles that had been placed before him. I know that neither of us expected what came next, and maybe if there'd been some warning I might have reacted differently. There wasn't any warning though, only the call saying my father was seriously ill and without thinking my response to go to him was made.

Neither of us expected for me to be in Croatia as long as I was, and we certainly didn't expect to find out that my father's illness was far more serious than what the phone call had led us to believe. There had been no discussion about my going, it had been years since I'd seen him, I couldn't risk not going, but Joe still didn't have a passport, he and Abby had no choice but to stay home. In the beginning we thought I might be there a couple of weeks, but, then I learned it was cancer, I couldn't convince him to return to the States, and I couldn't just walk away.

I can't describe how difficult those months away from Abby and Joe were for me, and I can only guess about how bad they were for Abby. My time was spent taking care of my father between stays in the hospital, re-fitting his house to accommodate the wheelchair when he could no longer walk, and lastly, reconciling with my brother. The phone-calls from Abby were difficult, and far too many ended in fights that I know now were fueled by my wife's return to drinking.

I have to wonder if my father didn't realize that his death was imminent, even if he never discussed it with Niko or I. About six months into his treatment there came a time when our father's condition seemed to improve, and despite my protests he convinced me to leave his side and return to Chicago. I should have known better, but, his condition was stable, there were people I trusted able to look after him, and I missed Joe and Abby. I would have given anything to have been able to take him back with me. To give my father the chance to meet Abby and Joe?  But, it would have been too much of a drain on him, and instead he convinced me to take Niko in his place. As I look back on his good-byes to us before we left for the airport, I can see now that he was saying his final good-byes, I just didn't see it then. Within a couple days of our arrival in Chicago, we received the phone-call notifying us of his passing.

In those days prior to the call, there was such a mix of feelings running through me.  I was thrilled at being home again, seeing how much Joe had grown, and reconnecting with both him and Abby.  As happy as I was though, I sensed something was wrong, Abby almost seemed to be avoiding me, and her reaction to my bringing Niko back was nothing like what I expected.  It wasn't until we knew I'd have to return to Croatia to bury my father that Abby told me that she'd started drinking again. Something had to be done, this wasn't only about her now, she'd put our son's life in danger. This was not going to be easy for us, and while I could understand that she might have felt overwhelmed by all that had happened while I was gone, I would never understand her doing anything that might have hurt Joe.  There was no question of her going into Rehab, and while she was there, Joe would go back to Croatia with Niko and I to bury our father.  I wish I could say that was the end of things, but it wasn't, and it was only when Abby joined us in Croatia that I learned how much worse things could get.

So, that's where we are now.  We've decided that we're not ready to give up on what we have between us, we love each other, we have a son together, and we both believe our marriage is worth saving.  In order to do that we know we need to make some changes and part of that will come when we leave Chicago.  The decision to leave everything and everyone we know was not an easy one, but, to save what we have we know it needs to be done.  So, while I'm not happy with where my relationship is at right now, I have hope for us, and I believe in time, we'll be all right.

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