The detox course completed, our daughter was taken to rehab, the one she had chosen.
She was booked in for a twelve-month stay. For the first three months, she was not allowed to sleep off the premises, for the remaining nine months, she could come home at weekends.
Off we go, map in hand, to visit our daughter in rehab.
Another Victorian house – prestigious in its hey day – another tree-lined street.
Bella had watched out of the window for our approach, appeared on the road to greet us.
We hugged, there and then. She had reverted to her childlike character, not cocky or argumentative. I unloaded the car boot – goodies brought for her.
We were impressed with the garden, a healthy outdoor space. We followed her inside the house – a book on a table with pen, for an inmate to sign in, to sign out. She led us to the day room; old sofas lined the walls. You could taste stale tobacco, you could smell earlier cooked food; you could see ashtrays overflowing. Some guy with a glass eye wandered in the room, in his pyjamas, looking for a DVD. A big lady sat down, got up, then sat down again, wringing her hands, muttering to herself. Husband and I shared a look.
We went to Bella’s room, a room shared with the restless woman – our baby living here, staying in rehab. I wanted to scoop her in my arms, take her home, protect her. I worried this environment would damage her. But, what could I do – take her back to a dingy flat – let her drink the day away to oblivion – bring her home, where she would drink alcohol and abuse our hospitality, then take off. She said, ‘I need to do this, I need to get better.’
Oh, how I worried about her.
We said goodbye, with tears in our eyes, promised to return next weekend.
But when I got home…