Hindy and Asher continue to discuss how they perceived their growing-up family, in a follow-up session with Dr. Bachman.
* * *
Dr. Bachman sighed. “Welcome to the world of the recovering addict.”
“What do you mean?” said Asher.
“There’s such a thing as collateral damage. When a child has a tantrum, there are some things that you can fix and some you can’t. Broken glass, for example, can only be swept up and thrown away. You can’t put it back together again. You can buy new glassware, or put the other ones you have in a safer place, but you won’t have those same glasses ever again. They’re gone.”
“What are you saying?” said Hindy. “That I won’t get Miriam back?”
“You may get her back or you may not, but either way, your relationship will never be the same. It might even be better than before some day. But it will definitely be different. It’s unavoidable.”
Hindy started to cry as — once again — the enormity of her past mistakes washed over her. “Is there anything we can do?” said Asher.
Dr. Bachman was pleased to see the progress this husband and wife had made. Each time he’d met with them, they’d come a little closer to each other. He was glad, because Mrs. Fishman was going to need her husband’s support more in the next few months than she had needed it for all the years they were married.
“Not now,” he answered. “If you’ve been reading your Twelve-Step literature, you know about the Eighth and Ninth Steps.”
“Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all,” Hindy quoted. “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”
“Very good,” said Dr. Bachman, genuinely impressed. He would never have thought Hindy Fishman would take the step work seriously, at least not at this point in her recovery.
“So you know that when you’re truly ready to admit the nature of your wrongs and not just give them lip service, you can speak to Miriam then, and apologize with your whole heart. Anything you say to her now she’ll only view as a knee-jerk response, and she’d be right. You’re going to have to do the hardest thing.”
“What’s that?” said Hindy.
Hindy groaned. “You’re right. That is the hardest thing.”
Dr. Bachman stood up and, shaking Asher’s hand, escorted them out of the office. “To be continued,” he said, as he always did at the end of a session.
“Thank you, doctor,” said Hindy.
“I still have some time,” said Asher to his wife. “Are you allowed to go outside and walk around a bit? It’s a nice day.”
“Of course. I’m not in prison!” As soon as she said it she was sorry, because that was exactly the way she felt. If she’d had any idea of the hornets’ nest she’d stir up by checking herself in, she doubted that she would have done it. Who said every bad thought or feeling had to be held up to scrutiny in the light of day?
They stepped out into the back gardens, where a cool breeze was blowing. Only now that they were outside did they realize how stuffy it was inside. They strolled around, not saying much, but enjoying the time spent together.
They circled around to a bench next to some shrubs and flowers, and sat down. The storm within Hindy had settled some, and the dull ache of truth had settled in its place. Suddenly, though, she and Asher sensed the presence of people standing off to the side of where they sat.
“Hindy?” The older couple appeared out of nowhere, causing Hindy to gasp with the shock of recognition. “Hi! We thought it was you!”
“Mr. Weinberg!” Hindy stood up nervously to greet her parents’ neighbor. “Mrs. Weinberg. What brings you here?”
“We’re visiting my brother,” he said.
“Your brother?” Hindy’s brain could not compute the information. She hadn’t seen any elderly men on the unit, so why was he here?
“Yes, he’s on the third floor, geriatrics. I’m assuming you’re here to visit your father?”
“My father? Why would my father be here?”
Mr. Weinberg smiled gently, like he was speaking to a child. “He hasn’t been well. I just assumed he was brought here, and you were visiting. What room is he in? My wife and I would like to pop in and say hello.”
She realized that Asher had tensed up next to her, but could not understand what was happening. Mr. Weinberg’s eyes, like roaming butterflies, now lit on the hospital bracelet fastened around Hindy’s wrist, and now he, too, became confused.
Asher made a show of looking at his watch. “Maybe later on, but it’s been so nice to see you both. Wish your brother well for us. We’ve got to get going.”
“Okay,” said Mr. Weinberg, holding up one hand in front of him like a stop sign. “Take care! Give our regards to your parents.”
“We will,” said Asher. “’Bye now.”
They watched the older couple move slowly away and then Hindy turned to face her husband. He didn’t think he had ever seen her so angry.
“Asher, I know you know something. Tell me! Is my father all right?”
Asher took a deep breath. “That’s not an easy question to answer,” he said.
“Why not?” Hindy realized she was raising her voice, but she couldn’t stop herself.
“Remember when Dr. Bachman was telling us about ‘collateral damage?’”