The day seemed like it went very well for August and Sam at least. They continued to get to know each other, my dad and August warily avoided each other, and I hovered nearby, ready to swoop in if Sam gave any indication anything was too much for him to process.
My kid is a trooper, though. Always has been. He’s taking it all in stride while making the best of it. I wonder if he gets that from me… Do I portray enough of a positive attitude about how we should handle our circumstances? I would hope so, but Sam has a natural light within him that always allows him to find his way even in the darkest of times.
He made sure to immerse August into his life today. Sam showed his dad every single toy in his room—including a description of where he got it and how it ranks in priority to his other belongings. He showed him the entire house and every picture we have framed. Took him around the neighborhood—but wisely introduced August as a “family friend”. I didn’t tell Sam to do that. He just knew his dad was probably somewhat still a secret to the outside world for safety sake.
Sam even made his dad take him in the car so he could show August all the things that were important in his life. Where he went to school, played football and baseball, and even his best friend’s house.
I have been continually amazed at how natural the progression of August and Sam’s relationship has been. Sam, of course, has the insidious enthusiasm of a child and doesn’t have filters by which adults process stuff. August, however, has handled everything about Sam with an ease and grace I did not know he had. I have no clue what his experience is when it comes to kids, but he talks on the perfect level for Sam. Which is not easy as my son is incredibly wise beyond his years, smarter than most nine-year-old kids. On top of that, he has pressures that are difficult to deal with that no child should have to bear. It can make communication difficult, yet I never saw August falter once.
That even includes my child’s penchant for asking blunt questions and expecting honest answers. And Sam is the type of kid who—if not answered with complete transparency—will not hesitate to call someone on the carpet.
He straight out asked August at dinner if he was mad or upset he had been kept a secret from him all these years. I about choked on my burger, my eyes snapping worriedly over to August. Truthfully, I expected August to give Sam a sunshine-and-rainbows answer because our child has leukemia and shouldn’t have to witness any ugliness between his parents.
To my surprise, though, August told Sam the truth. “Yeah. I’m mad at the circumstances. None of it was my choice… and it doesn’t feel good to have your choices taken away from you. But I also realize it’s complicated, Sam. I’m sure there was no easy answer. But I don’t want to focus on that. I want to focus on going forward, okay?”
I was stunned, especially when Sam just gave his father a sage nod as if he expected that answer and respected it. To give August credit, he didn’t say one negative thing about me. He, of course, alluded to those choices that were made, which are clearly all on me. But it is with a new level of respect I look at August now because he could have—and very much did have the right to—speak disparagingly about me. He could’ve truthfully answered that he did not like what I did to him. Could’ve come out and said he was angry with me specifically. But he laced just enough ambiguity in with the truth, then added the balm of “complication” to explain why there’d been no good solutions to be had. Bottom line… August didn’t throw me under the bus even when he had the right to.
Although, I do have to wonder if he genuinely meant what he said. Was he being truthful when he said he doesn’t want to be mired in the past? Has he actually forgiven me?
All questions I have no clue as to the answers. August is currently tucking Sam into bed while I finish cleaning the kitchen. This is August’s very first time doing that sacred duty as a dad. As much as I want to peek in so I can have the memory to cherish, I inherently know I’d be intruding if I did. It’s a special moment between them, so it should only be about them.
My dad wanders into the kitchen, heading to the refrigerator to grab a beer. When he shuts the door, he leans his shoulder against it. “This is not a good idea.”