A few weeks later, the wife sits waiting on the wooden bench. Her bones digging in harshly with each nervous shift, her husband holds her hand loosely as they wait to be called. The room is large and bustling with many people clustered in the gallery seating. The judge has yet to take the bench, looming up ahead. The wife spies the attorney, speaking in hushed tones to officials a few paces away.
While the wife waits, her eye line shift backwards to watch the door. She wonders when her son’s father will arrive. The wife is nervous to see him, when they last spoke a few months ago she dropped a lot of heavy news on his shoulders. The heavy double doors part and her son’s father slips in, sliding silently in an empty bench across the isle. The Wife catches his eye, and smiles tightly.
He smiles back, but it is a sad smile. He knows. The wife is dying. With her diagnosis, doctors no longer beat around the bush. She is dying, and soon. He knows. She knows.
She looks down at her small boney hand sheltered by her husband’s stronger mitt. Her husband knows. She is dying, and all too soon.
The only one left out of the loop is her four year son, who is blissfully playing at the neighbor’s house while she is here.
She feels her husband’s hand gently squeeze hers as if he knew her thoughts had strayed. She looks back over her shoulder at her son’s father, wondering where his thoughts had gone. He looked sad. He looked resigned.
There are no hurt feelings any longer, just weary acceptance. The wife and her son’s father split up years ago, when their baby was still in diapers. He put his career first, traveling frequently. He got to see the world while she got to watch their son grow.
At first, it hurt because their son didn’t understand where his father was, and she hurt for him. Now that her son is older, he knows when his father is able to come in town he always comes with a great story and a treat from some far off land. Her son loves his father, but also loves her husband. She squeezes her husband’s hand.
Her husband is the man who puts the fussy boy to bed. He is the man who makes him eat his vegetables. He is the man who doesn’t complain when the little boy begs to watch his favorite movie for the third time in a row on rainy days. He is the man that has taught her son when to say “sorry.” Her husband isn’t her son’s father, but her husband is her son’s hero.
Her son’s heart is so big, he has room for them all: for his adventuring father, with great stories and tales; for his steady hero, with his unwavering support; and his sick mama, loving him always through the toughest decisions.
The Wife is suddenly snapped from her thoughts when she hears their name called from the booming voice of the judge. Still holding her husband’s hand she stands and shuffles forward. The Wife stops and turns back, reaching out her other hand, to her son’s father, waiting for him to catch up.
It was not an easy decision to come to this courtroom today, but eventually they all agreed: her, her son’s father, and her husband, that their most precious little boy deserved a family legacy of love.