When Sam goes down for his transplant, August and I are going to decorate his room to make it feel a bit homier. We have Star Wars sheets and a comforter, a Denver Bronco’s lamp, framed photographs from pictures I’d had on my phone and printed online at the local pharmacy, and Sam’s favorite stuffed animal I had my dad send via FedEx when I got the idea. There are posters of Sam’s favorite athletes to hang on the wall, new and soft cotton pajamas, fuzzy slippers, and a cozy robe.
August decided to spoil Sam with electronics, and he got him a new iPad, headphones, and a subscription to Apple music. He downloaded all of Sam’s favorite movies and several games he thought would be entertaining. It was a touching gesture, as I’ve never been able to afford an iPad for Sam. I worked as an assistant manager at a local craft store, a position I had to resign from when I realized we were coming to Vegas for his treatment. It was fine since it’s not like it was my dream job. Only a way to make money, contribute to my dad’s salary as a salesman for a wireless carrier, and try to provide a decent life for Sam.
I suspect August makes damn good money if his house is any indication, which means he’s going to be able to afford to give Sam things I can’t. Strangely, I’m okay with that because I know the value of what I give to Sam. August will make his own way. From everything I can see so far, he’s off to a great start with our kid.
Pushing up from the chair, I make my way over to the small sink beside Sam’s bed. There’s a mirror hanging over it. I’ve tried hard not to peek into it lately, but vanity supersedes.
God, I look terrible.
My skin is dull, my eyes sunken in, and my lips are chapped dry because I’ve been horrible at hydration. I guarantee I’ve lost a few pounds because I haven’t been eating well. I can’t even remember if I brushed my teeth today.
I turn on the cold water, cup my hand under the stream, and splash a little on my face. It’s refreshing, but it ultimately does nothing to perk me up. Perhaps another cup of coffee is in order. Vanity hits again, so I try to at least tuck some stray hairs under my isolation cap.
I sneak a furtive glance at August, recalling the wild sex we’d had ten days ago. I’m sure there’s absolutely nothing sexy or appealing about me right now, not that it matters. Like he said, that was just a one-time thing when we were swept away by our jubilant moods.
A mistake, really.
There’s a knock on the door. I pivot that way, expecting it to be a medical professional to check Sam’s vitals or do a blood draw.
Instead, my jaw about hits the floor when I see my dad, dressed in yellow isolation gear and clutching a stuffed teddy bear. His eyes are pinned on Sam, who about comes flying out of bed, but manages to remember the IV in his arm at the last minute. “Grandpa,” he exclaims, a toothy grin giving just a tiny indication of the joy radiating off him.
“Hey, kiddo,” my dad says gruffly, shooting a worried look between August and me. My dad knows August is pissed he hasn’t been here. While I told my dad it was his choice and I wouldn’t weigh in with an opinion, I know I’ve been a little distant when he calls to check on Sam. While I totally understand my dad’s fears—as I had them, too, at one point—I was a little miffed he chose to play it safe. Especially given all we’ve learned from August about the threat to our safety not being all that great these days.
Regardless, he’s here now. I offer a smile I doubt he can see beneath my mask. Moving past the chair I’d been sitting in and over to him, I offer him a welcoming hug. “Hey, Dad.”
“Hey, sweet pea,” he replies gruffly as he clasps onto me, the teddy bear squished between us. “Your ol’ dad welcome here?”
“Of course,” I mumble.
We hug briefly before breaking part, my dad turning his sole focus on Sam, meaning he doesn’t acknowledge August in any way. They didn’t part on particularly good terms since August told my dad he was a fool and a coward for not coming to Vegas to be with Sam. This was, of course, all outside of Sam’s earshot, but I expect Sam’s probably wise enough to know there are bad vibes between the two. When we engage in discussion about my dad and August doesn’t seem overly interested, it’s a pretty clear indication to our son there’s some sore feelings.