That night Sarah went to sit with Arista and I went back to the apartment alone. It was so quiet and empty without the smell of Sarah's cooking simmering on the stove, or Aristas excited laughter bursting from her room.
I sat on the couch and remembered how wonderful these nights were when we were together as a family, and how I would take them all for granted. Usually I would just sit on the couch and drink a beer or two, not even thinking to help Sarah or play with Arista. I wondered now how they had ever put up with me. I wouldn't have put up with myself. I hated myself now.
My cell phone began to vibrate from inside my jean pocket. Dully I took it out and scanned the caller ID. It was my friend Dave, who I hadn't spoken to since the accident. He was a bartender, and we used to go drink together almost every night.
I pushed the TALK button. "Hello?"
"Hey, man!" Dave sounded much too cheerful for my low spirits. "What's up? I haven't seen you around for a long time."
"I was in the hospital," I told him dryly. "My daughter and I were in an accident. She's still in, and I just got out."
Dave had met Arista a few time before, and he liked her. "Poor girl. Is she going to be okay?"
I sighed. "Sarah and I pray every other minute, and she just got out of her coma--but the doctors say--she may never--" I realized I was suddenly struggling not to cry.
"Hey man," Dave said gently, "I'm sorry. This is a tough, tough thing. But if you're not doing anything tonight, how about coming down to the bar? It might make you feel better, and anything you want, it's on the house."
"Thanks, Dave, but I'm not going to touch a drop ever again."
"It's cool," He said. "You can come on down anyway, and see your old friends. It'll distract you for a while."
I sighed. I had nothing else to do, and it would be a distraction. "Okay, man. I'll be there soon."