I squat to catch him as he barrels into me. He buries his face into my chest, his arms wrapping tightly around my waist. Pressing my lips to the crown of his head, I give him a kiss. “Hey, honey… I sure have missed you.”
“Missed you, too, Mom,” he says easily. One of the things I love most about my kid is he has absolutely no shame in showing me affection. Our bond is incredibly tight.
I immediately use my arm to steer him toward the house, his slipping easily around my waist to walk with me. “I need to talk to you about something pretty important, Sam.”
He doesn’t pull away, but he does glance over his shoulder at my dad and August. “Who’s that?”
“That’s what I want to talk to you about,” I say vaguely, but my kid is no dummy. I can hear it in his voice—the hopefulness—and realize he suspects it might be his dad. While I didn’t tell him that I was going to search for August, he’s heard enough doctor talk about donors that he could easily figure it out.
We walk inside the house to our small living room. It’s furnished with a couch, a loveseat, and a recliner for my father. The walls are covered with five-by-seven framed photographs of Sam through the school years, my favorite being him in first grade with his top two front teeth missing. I lead him to the couch and we sit, our knees angling in toward each other. I don’t bother to beat around the bush. “That’s your dad, Sam. I located him, then went to see him about you. He’s a match. We can do the stem cell transplant.”
It’s a lot for my kid to handle. So much information overload in just those few words. But Sam has had to grow up very quickly. Knowing he had a father beyond his reach, that we were in some type of danger but not sure how, and learning he has cancer and could potentially die.
Sam leans away from me to peer out the front window to the driveway. “It looks like Grandpa is arguing with him.”
I can’t help but chuckle. “Well, your grandpa is not happy, but your dad wants to take you to Vegas for the treatment and I’ve agreed to it.”
The fact I found a donor should have overjoyed my son. While he has tried to be brave and stoic, I know he’s terrified. Instead, he frowns. “Mom… you shouldn’t have gone. It was too dangerous for you to leave.”
I gather Sam close to me. Hugging him hard, I don’t let go. Because my kid is affectionate, he doesn’t even try to squirm away. He just lets me hug him. “I love you, Sam. I would do anything for you no matter the danger. No matter the risk. But you don’t have to worry about that anymore.”
I feel him tug away from me, tucking his chin in so he can see my face. “Am I going to meet him? His name is August, right?”
Yes, Sam knows his dad’s name. When I felt he was old enough to know the truth, I told him all about August. I’ve had to remind Sam what his dad’s name is over the years because we don’t talk about him a lot. Usually only if Sam brings him up from some wayward curiosity.
“Baby, yes, you’re going to meet him,” I assure him, tousling his hair with my fingers. “He’s excited to meet you. And he’s thrilled he can help you….
“What’s he like?” Sam asks eagerly. Apparently, it’s only now settling in that he has a real dad and he’s here now.
“Well,” I drawl, trying to come up with something nice to say. There’s not anything recent I can latch on to, not given our interactions so far. Well, except for his willingness to do anything for Sam—sight unseen. Digging deep into my memories, I pull out the man I used to know. I have to assume some of the characteristics I loved are still there. “He’s funny, like you. Can make you pee your pants laughing.”
Sam’s eyes sparkle with excitement.
“And he’s nice. Loving.” Well, not to your mom, I think. But I trust he will be to his son.
I glance out the window. August and my dad are still arguing, both using hand motions and gestures.
My eyes go wide with shock when my dad leans into August and pushes him with both hands to his chest. August retreats a half step—not all that displaced since he’s so much bigger than my father—but his face clouds with anger.
I pop off the couch, grabbing Sam’s hand. “How about we go introduce you to your father?” I suggest quickly, knowing I need to calm the situation down.
Sam trots behind me. The minute we step on the porch, August’s watchful gaze comes to us. He doesn’t spare me a glance. Instead, his eyes rove hungrily over Sam, taking in every detail. I can tell he’s trying to memorize our son’s features.