The kids were all at sleep-overs so we didn't have to load them into the car and listen to the complaints and declarations of, "This is stupid! I don't want to go!" But he had been restless and cranky. His voice had taken on an edge that I had heard far too many times before...He had paced the aisles loaded with blooming flowers and couldn't find one that he liked. We had only been walking around for a handful of minutes when he had wanted to leave. On the drive home, he had snapped at every little thing I said or did-I drove too fast; I followed cars too closely; We weren't getting home fast enough.My mind had begun tuning him out, drifting to wonderful memories over the last year. We had lucked into our gorgeous home...because of him. He had seen an ad in the local newspaper about a private sale, a rent-to-own. He had immediately called and set-up an appointment and we fell in love with that house! I had just retired early from teaching and taken out my teacher's retirement. I didn't have enough for the down payment but we offered what we had. Unfortunately 46 others wanted OUR house, too. The minister who owned the home advised everyone that he would make a decision soon.
But my husband had not settled for that answer. For 2 solid weeks he had called that minister every single day. I remembered that last day of calling. We had decided to offer what we had plus an extra $100 on top of the rent every month till we made up the difference. And so my darling husband made another call and explained our offer. That man-of-God told us he had prayed the night before because he did not know what to do. Many offers had come in, including down payments twice as much as he was asking. But he had known how much we wanted that home because of my husband's many calls. So when the phone had rung he was reaching for it to ring us with the SAME offer. God really does work in mysterious ways.The next memory to pop into my head? Christmas! Oh, what a glorious time! He had decided that he wanted to play Santa Claus! He had purchased a costume that turned out to be a wee bit too small for Santa's belly, but he had looked so merry! What a site! The photo of him that year is in my Memory Box and etched in my heart!
But now those memories faded as we arrived home and his mood quickly changed to one of melancholy. The change, rapid and swift, brought its own memories of disappearance, fear, and betrayal. I knew what that melancholy would do to him- it made him mourn the loss of his best friend, Al. As I slowly walked toward the front door, I could hear him inside, gathering what things he believed he could sneak out to my other car without my noticing. But I had always known. He had thought he had pulled the wool over my eyes. Yet the heart is constantly on alert. When I had asked him what he was doing, he had smiled and said he had a job interview in an hour. That smile, that grin, that little chuckle had killed my heart.
So he had taken a shower, had put on clean clothes, had given me a huge bear hug, and had glanced at his blood pressure pillls, sitting on the mantle. But he had not taken the pills with him. Those were his lifeline. So at that moment I had convinced myself that all was fine, that he really was just going to an interview. Waving to him as he had driven away, I decided to get to work on the garden. Hundreds of flowers and many hours later, I finally noticed the sun setting. A tiny finger of fear began its way up my spine as I realized that he wasn't home yet. That interview should not have taken this long.
I had decided to call the place of the interview to see what time it had ended. The manager kindly explained to me that no interviews had been scheduled that day. The full-blown fear had grabbed at my throat and taken my breath away. The words had exploded in my brain, "Not again! Not again! Not again!"It had been a year! Such a wonderful, loving year! No fighting, no fear, no binges! But it had happened again! He had gone! I had no idea where! His best friend had returned, had thrown a good-ole-boy arm around his shoulders and had taken my love away from me. The best friend's name? Alcohol...