My daughter wrote me a card, unprompted, during her "quiet time" (she's moving away from naps) that says "Daddy I leev u". She's four and a half. "Love" is a tough word to spell when you're four. She's learned how to send voice texts via WhatsApp so she bombards me with quick little 'I love you so so so much' snippets five or ten at a time when my wife picks her up from camp. Meanwhile she's grown two shoe sizes since I left in June, is big enough for a booster seat and is apparently ready for a bicycle with pedals.
And here I sit, a thousand miles away.
I finished Dreamland two days ago which made me realize my neighbor overdosed last year. He and his wife have been on disability for chronic pain since 2003; it would be asymptotically unlikely for them not to be on oxycontin. Which could explain some of the economics of the place; there are eight people in there but only two of them work and they're putting on an addition, despite the fact that apparently they haven't gotten a settlement from his death yet. This is particularly troubling as their nine year old (on the spectrum, maybe some other stuff going on) is my daughter's most common playmate. He's brought lighters over before, and his dad visibly beat him in front of my daughter when he was discovered to have ripped up some disability checks. The kid's 16-year-old uncle lives over there too and last week he was walking around shirtless; we got to see his whipping scars.
It's not an emergent problem. But it is a problem. On the one hand, we're reasonably certain that we are the kid's one source of vegetables (he eats with our daughter often) and likely a principle point of stability in his life. On the other hand, he's the most immediate vector opiates have into my daughter's life, and their house is a tragedy unfolding. There is no good solution here that makes things happy ever after. And it eats at me.
On the plus side, I spent lunch yesterday with a 2nd generation watchmaker with 40 years experience and signed up for an engine turning class, apparently the only engine turning class in the United States, which happens in December just down the road from me.