My friend who watches my son has a four-year-old daughter. My son loves her father. You can just see him light up around him. He loves to give him hugs and wants to spend “man time” with him. I’ve recognized that Nathaniel wants to hang with “his type” for quite a few months now… he’ll go stand by men at church. I know he misses a male in his life… don’t know if he misses “his” father. But he likes to spend time with men… like he knows they’re like him. There’s only so much Mommy can do. Kiddo reminds me a little of “King of the Hill.” He wants to do man things… like play ball, talk sports, and use power tools.
Well… apparently I’m not the only one who has noticed that. The four-year-old told her mother tonight that she’d share her daddy since my son doesn’t have one anymore.
Funny, we think kids don’t understand and yet they know so much more than we give them credit for.
It reminded me of the conversation that my husband and I had when we came back after receiving the new of the stage four diagnosis. I was shell shocked and my normally quiet husband wanted to talk.
The conversation was an eclectic combination of thoughts strewn together.
- He told me it would be okay with him if I re-married.
- He asked if I’d keep his name if he didn’t make it.
- He said he didn’t want our son to grow up without a father.
- He said probably the first thing I’d do was go get a dog if he didn’t make it.
- He wanted to live long enough to see kiddo’s 1st birthday.
- He wanted to live long enough to retire, so we’d be taken care of.
I didn’t want to have the conversation. I tried to change the subject. WE were going to beat this. He was going to be one of the lucky ones. We didn’t need to talk about it.
I told him we didn’t need to talk about it. If worst came to worst, of course I’d keep his name… did he not realize how many years I wanted to be Mrs. Smith??? How proud I was to be his wife. How much I loved him. Of course, I’d keep his name!!! I did tell him that if he didn’t make it, I probably would get a dog. Mainly for protection. Single woman alone in the country. A dog with a big bark can come in handy. And dogs can also serve to keep things like fox from getting too close (although fox are smart… they know the boundaries of a dog’s fence.)
I look back and I’m glad he put things out on the table while he was “healthy.” In February, John was totally asymptomatic…. just a slight pain in his hip that he thought was from the research project drugs- they were known to cause bone pain. It didn’t seem possible that the melanoma was back. Yet alone that it was a terminal cancer that would kill him in FIVE months. It didn’t seem possible that the tumors were growing exponentially… damn fucking cancer! A strong healthy firefighter who had months earlier finished his 2nd century (cycling). A young father who wanted nothing more than to spend time with his son. It couldn’t take John… John was strong willed, healthy, young, in the prime of his life. He’d beat it. DAMN FUCKING CANCER!!!
How stupid was I? D A M N F U C K I N G C A N C E R!!!
In the end, John did live long enough to see kiddo’s first birthday. Although, we ended up spending in the hospital (sans kiddo) getting a blood transfusion. DAMN FUCKING CANCER. But we did make it home with enough time to tell kiddo happy birthday. Some birthday for kiddo… “Happy B-day, son. Mommy & Daddy love you very much, but we had to be in the hospital all day. But you won’t remember how we weren’t here because you’re too little. Your daddy’s probably dying so it’s the only birthday you’ll get to share with him. And your mom will be so fucked up she won’t feel like celebrating birthdays anymore. Happy Birthday, son. As I heard in my youth, “life’s a bitch.” Sorry, about your luck. Happy Birthday!!” DAMN FUCKING CANCER!!!
In the end, Annapolis retired John on disability. It’s barely anything. A mere sliver of his salary. And when you look at John’s earning potential over the course of the whole career that he had planned– I have no doubts that if John had been healthy he would have been lieutenant in 2009 and by the end of his career he would have been at least a captain– if not higher. John had goals, plans, and dreams with the fire company. When it came to firefighting he was the complete package… he was going places… D A M N F U C K I N G C A N C E R!!!! Compare his earning potential to the retirement and it barely equated to pennies. I tried to sugar coat it for John. How do you look at a man who knows there is a good possibility he’s going to die and who wants to know that his family will be taken care of and tell him that we won’t? I tried… I tried to sugar coat. I didn’t want to disappoint him. I didn’t want to let him know the truth, but I couldn’t lie. John was too sharp and knew the numbers too well. He knew what our mortgage was, he knew our expenses, he kept track of that stuff, he paid bills. He was not a man who handed his paycheck off to me. He knew more than I knew where our money went. He knew the numbers didn’t add up.
The one thing that cancer never stole from him was his incredible brain, his uncanny intelligence and his logic and sensibility that 99.5% of the population lacks. Cancer never stole his sense of humor, either… a lot of people didn’t get John’s sense of humor… it was a humor for those with intelligence and so very unique. It’s one of the things that I miss so much.
John knew how tiny the retirement figures. He knew it was not enough to provide a comfortable life for us. He was clear in expressing his disappointment. But in the phrase that he often used, “it is what it is.” What could we do? It couldn’t be changed unless he could beat the cancer. DAMN FUCKING CANCER!!!
In the end, kiddo is left with a mom. A mom who is not a dad. A mom who doesn’t know “man things.” A mom who has no desire to try to find a “substitute” daddy. Yeah… I’m sure that goes over well for meeting a prospective mate- “You see, my husband died and my kid needs a father… could you step into that role and love both of us unconditionally… love me for who I am (which is no ten) and be totally okay that I still love another man and always will, and be understanding that I’m broken and no matter how much I heal, there will always be that crack. Can you understand that sometimes the crack gets worse and it needs some glue? It’s an unpredictable flaw. I’m broken, I’m flawed, and try as I may, I’ll never be 100% again. But, you see, my son needs a father and I’m tired of the whole lonely nights thing– what do you say??? Are you up for the task?”
Yeah… that would go over like a lead balloon…
That’s okay… I have no desire at this point in my life to date. Poor guy would probably need therapy after meeting me.
For now, I’ll love the little girl who knows that Nathaniel needs a “daddy” and is willing to share hers… at least for today. I’ll love her mother who loves my son and gives him the best care in the world. And I’ll love her husband who gives my son a goodnight hug and spends “man” time with him.