The other morning, I ran across a graffiti covered bridge – the second on my regular route. I remember that among the many signs and symbols dressing its rails, it once told all who crossed “I LOVE YOU $OBER.”
Because lately I have been searching for signs, I noticed that the message I held onto for many miles and months was no longer there. I returned to the bridge and scanned its phrases, brushing the rust-covered words with my fingers. The phrase was nowhere to be found. And I missed it.
I first noticed it early in my determination to make the most of a journey with alcoholism over which I had minimal influence but great investment. Believing that my happiness rested with a sober Swenny, I made certain he knew that is how I preferred him, and allowed myself to believe that it was possible. Trustingly, I put the card that I thought held my happiness in his hand and waited for him to play it.
While waiting, I continued on. Along bridges and paths, I minded our way by forging ahead with deliberate steps taken on uncertain footing. Over the years, and the past few especially, I have stumbled. Often choosing the path of least resistance, I allowed myself to be satisfied by attempts at sobriety followed by hands-in-the-air surrenders, shortened separations in response to my need for company, and used for excuses milestones I felt we should celebrate as a family to keep us together. Throughout, I put our happiness and Swenny’s odds for longterm sobriety at risk.
On that early morning run late last week, I eventually came across the graffiti I thought had been erased on a bridge up ahead. When I saw it, I thought about what else I have missed in pursuit of the ending I thought I wanted most.
Now in a house emptied of children, I find myself looking ahead. Beyond the path I can see to one I hope to someday reach, I am letting the echo of my foot strikes lead me to where I need to go. To the bridge I said I’d cross when I get to it – where the water I was once happy to wash underneath is rising before me. Where not long ago I wished it to subside, I now want it to rush in a way that requires a bridge strong enough to deliver me to a place where my happiness rests with me and Swenny’s sobriety with him. To where there is space between swenny and cher.
Tonight, I am faced with crossing that bridge. Arrived to on a hunch, his latest relapse was confirmed by evidence tucked in the branches of the trees lining our yard. I have decided that this next bridge, I want to cross alone.