Day 20: Better
Morning comes and I am awake at the crack of dawn.
I pace downstairs and make coffee. I pace around with my coffee once it’s brewed. And then I pace some more. Waiting. Waiting to see if my oldest son has come around.
I make sure to wear “guy” socks, and even put on my “guy” boots. Without realizing it, I am returning to my traditional role as Dad.
The kids get up around 10 a.m. to go see My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks with a friend at a nearby movie theater. My youngest is a Brony, remember? But my oldest is still distant. I look down at my wrist and realize I haven’t even put on my hair ties, my symbol of strength and defiance.
I continue my pacing around the first floor, cleaning this and that. I just can’t be in the same room as my oldest as I’m afraid I’ll break down in front of him.
Thirty seconds in the living room, then back to the kitchen. My youngest wanders in and I ask for a hug. Not good, I tell him, not good.
Finally their ride arrives and I whisk them out the door. I close the door and lean against it before finally sinking to the ground. And the tears come. Oh, do the tears come.
That’s it, right? I can’t be myself in front of my son. The one who is always understanding. Just not of this. Or of me.
I finally pull myself back together, though I fear it takes me a good hour to exhaust my pity party. I give my face a good splash of cold water to get rid of the red rims around my eyes. Deep breath, buddy. Deep breath.
By the the time the boys return home, I’m feeling better. Whatever happens happens. Either he is here on this journey with me or he’s not. My youngest is good with me, and even more so with his Pony movie.
We finally settle in for some more Doctor Who. It’s a normal day for the three of us and I decide I can live with that. We wrap up a mini-marathon and it’s time for my youngest to get to work for the evening.
After dropping him off, I finally decide enough is enough and broach the elephant in the room with my oldest.
So we good?
Silence. Lots of face pulling, but no intelligible response.
This goes on a for an eternity, but I’m out of answers. I’m emotionally empty. I feel like there’s a path to reaching him, I just can’t find it. Thicket too dense. Machete too dull.
I finally ask if he wants to read my blog. This blog.
He nods and I head upstairs to let him read alone — without the specter of me pacing or staring at his face for every possible reaction as he reads each post.
I finally return after 20 minutes and he is staring at the screen with tears in his eyes and on his cheeks.
Oh shit. Oh shit? I don’t even know anymore.
But these turn out to be good tears. He gets up and gives me a long hug. And finally says, “Dad, I love you. I think I get it now. And I’m okay with it.” There is a sincerity in his voice and in his hug that tells me we are, in fact, okay.
The rest of the evening is good, relaxing even. We pick up my youngest a few hours later from work, grab dinner and wrap the evening with one more episode of Doctor Who.
It seems only apropos to end this with a quote from Doctor Who, but not actually Doctor Who. That does makes sense. But if not, just trust me…
When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all… Grow up, get a job, get married, get a house, have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much darker. And so much madder. And so much better.
Maybe not darker, at least not for me anymore. But it definitely is stranger, madder and so much better.