On thunderous nights, like tonight, where lighting strikes illuminate the dinosaur stencil on the wall with a flash and thunder rattles the toys on the shelf, the man reminisces. As he leans against the footboard of the bed with a picture book tented half read, watching a small child’s leg fussily kick at the covers in half sleep, the man remembers. He remembers, many years ago, being that small little boy, tossing and turning in at every crash and boom outside. He remembers begging a different man to make him feel safe while he tried to sleep during the storms.
That man wasn’t his father. But that was okay, he didn’t need to be his father to be his hero. He was Sir. And Sir was there for all the big milestones, and the small ones to. It was Sir who tucked him in at night while his Mother went to clean up the kitchen. It was Sir who taught him to throw a football and a punch. It was Sir who’d send him to his room for being disrespectful to his Mother. When he was only sixteen and his Mother died, it was Sir who comforted him while he cried. It was Sir who help tie his bow-tie for prom, and clapped the loudest at his graduation.
Times were simpler then. No one questioned why Sir, not his father or grandmother or the state, continued to care for him. Sir helped pay for college. Sir was there for his wedding. Sir wasn’t his father, but he was everything he needed as a lost, young boy.
And now, tucking in a fitful child trying to sleep through the harsh sounds of the rain and thunder that remind him so much of himself, the man can’t help but wish times were simpler. Perhaps they just felt simple to him; that the death of his mom changed everything but nothing at all. Sir was always there.
As the man slowly exited the room, creaking the bedroom door on his way out, he was desperate to give this little boy the same comfort of keeping as much the same as possible.
He found his wife slumped at the kitchen table, her head heavy in her thin hands. They don’t say anything when he puts a comforting hand on her shoulder to rub her back and sooth the worries that darken her thoughts. Through her shirt, he feels her bones protruding sharply. The chemo sapped everything from her, while promising a sliver of hope.
A stack of documents sit neatly on the table from the lawyer. It’s a welcome change compared to the reams of paper from doctor after doctor. The man thumbs through them and takes a deep breath. He has read them before, a dozen of times. It is just a matter of signing now. His wife looks up and with a nod of her head, the man finds the strength to set it all in motion. It is the right thing to do. It was a family legacy of sorts, passed down from Sir to the man.
His attorney has painstakingly explained that the law could recognize his role in his step son’s life under the right circumstances. The stack of documents- now signed- requests the court to name him as an equitable caregiver for this little boy who is scared of thunderstorms, to consider the man as a choice for custody of the boy one day. Not an adoption, because that little boy has his Father, too.
Putting the pen down, the man looked at his wife, sick with worry, guilt, and illness and knew the day would come soon when these documents were absolutely essential. She was dying, and for her son, she wanted as much to stay the same.
To be continued.