It wasn’t too long after I dropped the letters in the mail, did I get a response.

I was finally comfortable with my sobriety. I stopped seeing my therapist so often, and I even started an all-male support group with Gene. Things were going well.

I was working at the store one early evening. I was stocking the shelves with boxes cereal, when someone tapped my shoulder. I turned around, and there was Angela. She was looking more like her mother than I’ve ever seen before. I wanted to grab her and hold her in my arms, but I held back.

I will never forget what Angela said to me that day. “You are my father. I know what you did was terrible, but I also know that if you had control, you never would have. I never hated you. Not once. And Mom, she never stopped loving you. I love you, daddy, and I forgive you.” She threw her arms around me and squeezed tight.

I think maybe I was in shock because for a few seconds (which felt like an eternity) I didn’t hug her back. Then I felt tears pour down my face and I melted into her hug. I reached under her grasp, around her waist and lifted her in the air and into me. I held her for what seemed like forever, giving her the tightest hug I could, while the tears continued to stream.

All I could say was “I’m so sorry,” over and over again. She kissed my cheek and I set her back down. She stared up at me with those same green eyes as her mother. She took me by the hand and led me outside of the store.

Leaning against the passenger door of a car parked right in front, was my beautiful Colleen. My other two daughters looked on from the back seat. I almost sprinted full speed into her arms. I just wanted to hold her and tell her that I love her and I was sorry.

I leaned forward to run, but she shook her head no. I stood straight up. Slowly, she walked toward me and reached for my hands. I had forgotten how soft her skin was.

Holding my hands, she looked me in the eye. “Slow,” she said. I knew what she meant. There was no way we were going to go back to the way things used to be immediately. She needed more time. She needed to heal fully, and I understood.

She grabbed my face and kissed me square on the lips. “Soon,” she said. She and Angie got into the car and drove away. Angie was waving from the window, as they drove out of sight.

I felt like I stood there motionless for hours. I could finally begin to work on getting my family back. It was beautiful!