I always hated those well-meaning people who asked, “Why didn’t you get out?” like they somehow could have lived my life better than I could. They weren’t there for the good times, those amazing times when Daryl would bring me purple roses from the flower shop on his way home from class just because he knew they were my favorite. Those know-it-all busybodies weren’t there for the birth of our son, my desperately-wanted, nearly-killed-me Michael. They weren’t there for the birth of our daughter either, little Marie who had walked with me in my dreams. And they weren’t there all those times that he said he was sorry, when he promised that was the last time, that it would never happen again.

It isn’t like he hit me, or hit our kids. Daryl just had these moods: dark, brooding, intense. Eventually, I learned to not ask questions; I learned to step lightly. He swore he never threw things at me. I simply picked up the pieces of whatever’d smashed against the wall and tried not to think too much about the nearness of the miss. It was harder to teach the children to be silent during one of their father’s spells, as he referred to them, but they figured it out, eventually.