Written by Mark The Goodpen
By now I'm sure you know the drill, so I won't bore you with another disclaimer to ignore.
Thank you to everyone who has e-mailed their feedback on this story. You're e-mails let me know I should keep the Sierra Inn in business.
Feedback is always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
My Other Story on Nifty:
Wanting Perfection (Gay Male Adult/Youth)
From the End of Chapter 23
"What do you want me to do?" Doris asks. "Let my grandson see me suffer a painful death? How would that be helping him any?"
"Doris, I can't tell you what to do," I say. "But, what I can tell you is that there is a boy that loves you very much but is hurting so much because he doesn't think that love is returned. You haven't seen him the past couple of weeks when I've told him that you cancelled. The look in his face, God Doris it breaks my heart. And I didn't realize this until last night, but that look isn't because he's disappointed that he won't be able to spend the day with you. He's hurt because every time you cancel on him that just reinforces his belief that you don't love him. So maybe it's not right for you to re-enter his life knowing you don't have that much time left, I won't pretend to know the answer to that question. But I do know, that the pain of seeing you sick will be far less than the pain he would feel if you go without saying goodbye."
"You must think I'm awful selfish," Doris says, shaking her head a little.
"No," I say shaking my head. "I think you're scared. But Doris, you don't have to go through this alone."
"Thank you Kevin," Doris says. "But I have made up my mind. I have already made arrangements with a hospice and I will be moving in there at the end of March."
"So there's no talking you out of this?" I ask, a little angrily.
"Kevin, this is for the best," Doris says.
"Well then give me this," I say. "Please meet us this weekend, you won't be too sick by then. Just give Brian one more chance to see you. Give him a chance to hear that you do love him, please he needs that," I say, my own voice cracking with tears as I think of the hurt look on Brian's face when Doris cancelled the last two weeks.
"Okay," Doris says a little hesitantly. "I will do that, you guys come on over on Saturday."
"Thank you," I say. "That's all I can ask."
"Kevin, I want to tell you something," Doris says, looking at me straight in the eye. "I see the love you have for my grandson, and I can't tell you how good that makes me feel. So now that I promised you Saturday, I need you to promise me something."
"What?" I ask.
"I want you to promise me that you will continue to love him, no matter what happens," Doris says. "No matter how angry he makes you at times, which he will. No matter who else comes into your life, which could happen. I want you to promise me that you will give that boy all the love and attention he deserves. And make sure that he grows up to be the type of man I know he is capable of becoming. There is something magnificent inside of him, he just needs to feel comfortable enough to show it. Promise me that you will give him the happiness my son and daughter in law had worked so hard to give him."
"I absolutely promise all of that," I say.
"Thank you," Doris says, wiping the tears that have started falling down her cheek.
"Thank you," I say. "For trusting me with him."
"You're a special young man, Kevin," Doris says. "Brian told me a lot about you. He loves you, and for him to open his heart like he has to you only means that you are an incredible person. I know you will take good care of him. There's just one thing."
"What is it?" I ask.
"I've decided I want to be the one to tell Brian," Doris says. "About what's going on with me, I don't want to put that on you."
"Are you sure?" I ask.
"Yes," Doris says.
Just then the waitress comes with our food, and our conversation stops for a little while as we both eat. My mind is spinning as I not only try to digest my food but what I have just been told as well. I still do not totally agree with the way Doris has chosen to handle this situation. But I suppose it is kind of her final wish so I feel obligated to honor it without questioning it anymore than I already have. I know this week is going to be hell for me, and Saturday even worse. I don't know how I am going to get through the week pretending everything is normal while knowing that come Saturday Brian's heart is going to be broken. But Doris wants to be the one to tell Brian, and maybe it is for the best that she is.
"Kevin, you should know," Doris says. "And I want to tell you this now while I still can. I have left Brian as the sole beneficiary of my estate, all of my money will be added to the money from his parents. Again it isn't much but it will be enough for his college education, which I almost forgot about. Make sure Brian gets a good education."
"I absolutely will," I say. "We can't let a great mind go to waste," I say, with a little smile.
"That's exactly what I was thinking," Doris says, returning my smile.
"Doris I have something I need to tell you," I say, a little hesitantly at first. "Yesterday I went to Brian's parents graves to promise them essentially what I have promised you."
"You did?" Doris asks, surprise strong in her voice. "That was very nice of you."
"Thank you," I say. "But the reason I bring it up is, Robert Landers was the man that lent me the money that allowed me to build my motel. I hadn't put two and two together until I saw the headstone."
"My goodness," Doris says, with a smile. "I had forgotten that Robert even worked for the bank," she says, shaking her head with a little smile. "That was his second job actually. Maybe no bigger irony in the world, he could never manage his own money but the bank trusted him with a job like that."
"What was his main job?" I ask.
"He was a free lance journalist," Doris says. "He sold some of his work, but he never was able to make it big. He took the job at the bank when Brian was born. Amy insisted he do something because the money from his writing wasn't going to cut it with a baby. His friend managed that branch of the bank and gave him the job. When you come over Saturday, I will give you my family albums to keep for Brian. I'm not sure he is ready to look at them yet, but maybe someday."
"Thank you," I say. "Doris, I want you to know that I'm not trying to replace Brian's parents."
"I know you're not," Doris says. "Kevin, I have no doubt your heart is in the right place. That's why I trust you with my grandson. I know Brian is in good hands."
I leave the restaurant still in a small state of shock. I am not a very good actor so I don't know if I will be able to make it through the week without Brian knowing something is wrong, but I feel I have to give it my best shot.
The rest of the week is absolutely hellish for me. Brian seems to be unusually happy, which only makes me dread Saturday's visit with Doris that much more. I tell Brian that we are going to see Doris on Saturday, and that we are going to talk about something serious. Even though I wish I didn't have to I honor Doris's wish and do not tell Brian anything more than that. Brian just kind of shrugs off the meeting, and what I said about it being serious. I suspect he didn't really believe it was going to happen. Brian doesn't seem angry with Doris anymore, but I can tell he's still not pleased with her. I think there is even a level of mis-trust there. I don't know what will happen after Doris tells him what is going on with her and explains to him why she has been doing what she has.
Now that Brian and I are in the car headed for Doris's house my stomach is in knots, my throat has a lump in it the size of a grapefruit and my palms are sweating so much if it were possible I would actually soak through the steering wheel. Brian has been silent all morning, I can tell he knows something is going to happen today but he isn't sure what. I wish I could comfort him, but to do that would involve lying to him, because I can't honestly say everything is going to be alright and I just can't bring myself to do that. All I can do is stay silent myself and wait for this day to be over with.
"Here we are," I say as I pull into the driveway of Doris's house.
"We're really going to see her?" Brian asks, his face lighting up a little.
"Yeah," I say, with a gulp. "Brian, remember there's something serious she has to talk to you about," I say, reminding him this is not going to be a fun visit.
"Yeah you told me already," Brian says, as he unbuckles his seatbelt and starts to get out of the car.
"I was just making sure you remembered," I say, with a little sigh as I too get out of the car.
I follow him to Doris's front door, and Brian rings the doorbell. Soon we hear the lock turning from the inside and the door opens revealing Doris standing inside, a small smile coming to her face when she see Brian standing in front of me.
"Hi pumpkin," she says softly. "It's so good to see you again."
"Hi," Brian says plainly.
"Come in," Doris tells us.
Doris leads Brian and I into the living room, where she takes a seat on her reclining chair and Brian and I take a seat next to each other on the sofa facing her. Nobody says anything for what seems like an eternity, the only sound in the room coming from the rattling of the heater as the air moves through the old house.
"Brian, I'm sorry I've cancelled on you the past couple of weeks," Doris says, finally breaking the almost painful silence.
"It's okay," Brian says, in a manner that makes it obvious he really doesn't think it is okay.
"Thank you for saying that," Doris says. "But I did have my reasons, and I hope you'll understand. Maybe not today, but sometime when you get older."
"You needed to help a friend," Brian says. "I know."
"Pumpkin, there's something you need to know about your Grandma," Doris says, hesitantly. "The day after you came over for brunch with Kevin I had to go see the doctor. And he gave me some bad news."
"He did?" Brian asks, as I see his body suddenly tense.
"Yes, pumpkin," Doris says. "He told me that I have a bad type of cancer."
"Cancer?" Brian asks.
"Yes," Doris says, nodding her head simply.
"Can't they fix that?" Brian asks, hopefully.
"Not this type," Doris says.
"What's going to happen?" Brian asks, his voice cracking slightly.
"Brian, it's very hard for me to tell you this," Doris says slowly. "Pumpkin, I'm dying," Doris says as she looks straight into Brian's eyes. The crackling of her voice making it obvious she is trying to hold back tears.
"But they have medicine," Brian says, not yet ready to acknowledge what Doris has just told him. "Maybe a different doctor has better stuff he can give you and make you better. Right?"
"I'm sorry, pumpkin it doesn't work like that," Doris says. "I wish it did though."
"But..." Brian starts to say something as his bottom lip starts to quiver but stops himself.
"Brian that's why I cancelled on you the last couple of weeks," Doris says, trying to maintain her composure. "I thought it would be easier for you if I wasn't around so much anymore."
"But I don't want you to go!" Brian says, as a tear starts to fall from his right eye.
I sit next to Brian watching him start to cry and I feel my heart split in two. I wish I could do something to make him feel better, seeing him in any type of pain is just too unbearable to me. But in reality all I can do is sit and watch.
"Sweetheart, I don't have a choice," Doris says. "I wish I didn't have to go either. But somebody upstairs has other plans for me, and there's no getting around that. Come here, pumpkin," Doris says patting her lap.
Slowly Brian gets off the couch, as he uses the back of his right hand to wipe the tears away from his eyes. He walks over to Doris and gently sits on her lap, his knees pointed off to the side so he has to turn his head to look at her. Doris puts her arms around him as she looks into his eyes.
"Brian listen to me," Doris says. "I'm never really going to leave you, I'm just going to go be with your parents. And I'll watch out for you just like they have been for the last few years."
"How long is it going to take?" Brian asks.
"The doctors say six months," Doris says. "But, Brian I'm going to get very, very sick and I don't want you seeing me like that. I want you to remember me how I was, when you used to come here with your parents. Not how I'm going to be a couple of months from now. So today I'm going to say goodbye."
"No!" Brian almost shouts as he starts to ball into Doris's shoulder. "Please don't go!"
"I know, pumpkin," Doris says, as she starts to cry herself. "But it's for the best. You shouldn't have to watch what's going to happen to me," she adds.
"I don't care," Brian says, pulling his face away from Doris's shoulder. "Dad will bring me to visit you. We can help you. Right Dad?" he asks as he turns his head to look at me a look of hope returning to his face.
"Angel, we have to respect what your Grandma wants," I say, as I feel my heart break for Brian even more.
"But I still want to see you!" Brian says looking back at Doris. "I don't care if you're sick. I promise I'll remember you like you used to be. I promise."
I look at Doris as she seems to fall deep into thought. She looks into Brian's face for what seems like an eternity almost like she is trying to memorize what he looks like.
"Please Grandma!" Brian pleads, when his last statement is met by silence.
"You look just like your father," Doris tells Brian, as she puts a hand on Brian's cheek. "You act just like him too, you don't give up," she says with a soft chuckle. "Pumpkin I need to talk with Kevin for a minute. Can you go watch TV in the spare room for a minute?"
Brian nods before getting off Doris's lap and heading out of the room looking absolutely defeated. I don't know if Doris's lack of an answer means she's reconsidering or she was just stalling.
"Kevin, I can't change my mind," Doris says. "It's not fair to him."
"Even if it's what he wants?" I ask, still hoping to change her mind.
"He's a child," Doris says. "Children don't always know the consequences of what they want."
"So nothing will change your mind?" I ask.
"No," Doris says, sounding resolute in her decision. "But Kevin there is something else I need to talk to you about."
"What's that?" I ask.
"I don't want to leave this earth with my Grandson's future not officially resolved," Doris says. "So I called Brian's new social worker yesterday afternoon and explained to him my situation. I told about my situation and he said he would put a rush on the adoption. If you're lawyer is available Mr. Lofton can have you in front of a judge by the end of the month."
"What?" I ask in shock. "That's like three weeks."
"That's what he said," Doris says. "Is that okay with you?"
"Absolutely," I say, not being able to hold back my smile.
"I want to know that everything is official and Brian will be taken care of," Doris says.
"Thank you," I say, looking at her straight in the eyes.
"No need to thank me," Doris says, shaking her head slightly. "I want what's best for my grandson and I really believe what's best for him now, and in the future is to be with you."
"I won't let you down," I say.
"I know you won't," Doris says, as a small smile comes to her face.
"Still I really hope you reconsider about not seeing Brian again," I say. "How about if we see each other once a week until the adoption is final? Then you can decide where to go from there."
"You don't give up either do you?" Doris asks, with a little smirk.
"No I don't," I say, shaking my head.
"Kevin, I'm sorry but I feel that this is for the best," Doris says. "I watched both my parents die, as well as my husband and I do not want to put Brian through that type of pain."
"Doris," I say, slowly. "I totally respect your decision, I know that you're trying to do what you think is best for Brian. But I know what it's like to lose a grandparent slowly, overtime. And when I remember my Grandmother I remember the good times I had with her, not the ones when she was sick. But you know what? I wouldn't trade in those last couple of months for anything. Because it was still time we got to spend together."
"See this is how I know you'll be the perfect father for Brian," Doris says. "You try to empathize with him, see things through his eyes. I think that's a great trait to have as a parent. But Kevin, you have to understand where I'm coming form. Brian and I were very close when he was younger, I was the only extended family he had. I don't want anything to cloud those memories of the times we used to have together. And I truly believe over time Brian will understand that."
"But..." I start to say but am quickly interrupted.
"Kevin, I've made up my mind," Doris says. "Now if I am able I will be at the court when the adoption is made final," she says her voice turning very business like in tone. "But I will be in the back row. I'll slip in after the proceeding starts and slip out before Brian will see me. But I want to see everything finalized, if it is possible. I have given the hospice I will be in your number they will notify you when I do pass on. My lawyer will give you all the information you need regarding whatever assets I have left and how Brian can access his trust fund after he turns eighteen."
"Doris please," I plead, knowing that her decision is about to break Brian's heart.
"Kevin, I need to tell you this now while I am able," Doris says. "I have a burial plot next to my husband's at Forrest Lawn, it is right near my son and daughter in law. I have told the hospice I do not wish to have any kind of funeral. I am to be taken from their facility and buried that is it. Only bring Brian there if he asks to go, I need you to promise me that."
"I promise," I say, hesitantly.
"Thank you," Doris says.
"Doris this is going to break Brian's heart," I say as tears start to come to my eyes. "He's already lost so much."
"Kevin, I'm still going to die," Doris says. "Regardless of if I see Brian as I'm going or not. And it is much better to spare him the added heart ache of seeing me suffer. I know you do not agree, and I can't completely expect you to understand. But I hope you will respect my wishes."
"I will," I say, feeling as though I do not have a choice. Doris nods in response before taking a deep breath.
"Brian!" Doris says loudly enough so Brian can hear her in the other room. "You can come back in now."
A minute passes before Brian comes back into the room, his eyes are red and there are streaks of tears running down his cheeks.
"Come here pumpkin," Doris tells him, as she again pats her lap. "I want to tell you something."
"What?" Brian asks with a sniffle as he sits gently on Doris's lap in the same way he had before.
"You know I was sitting here when your father called to tell me that your mother had gone into labor and they were going to the hospital to have you?" Doris asks Brian. "It was a Sunday afternoon and I was working on my crossword puzzle. I dropped the paper and pencil right by the phone and darted out the door so I would make it to the hospital in time. I was so excited I left my car keys in the house and didn't realize it until I was in the car. But do you know what I remember most about that day?" she asks.
"No," Brian says, shaking his head.
"I remember sitting in the waiting room in the hospital," Doris says. "And you're father coming out, holding a little blue bundle in his arms, with the widest smile I had ever seen on his face. That was when we first met, and your father handed you to me. I had never felt as happy as I did that moment, when I first held you in my arms. And I didn't think I would ever feel that happy again. But then you started to grow, and I watched you start to talk and walk and it seemed with every milestone every new thing you did I just became happier. Brian you brought so much to my life, so much happiness I never expected to have after you Grandfather died. I love you so very much, more than you will ever know," Doris says as tears start to fall down her cheeks.
"I love you too, Grandma," Brian says as he wraps his arms around her and digs his face into the crook of her neck.
"Brian I want you to understand that I always loved you, and always will," Doris says. "You have been the light in my life for a long time now. Unfortunately after what happened to your parents happened I didn't handle it very well, and you paid the price for that. I feel horrible that had to happen, but I never once stopped loving you. Do you understand?"
"Yeah," Brian says, lifting his face away from Doris's neck.
"And Brian sometimes you have to do things for the people you love, to protect them," Doris says. "And that's why I have made the decision I have. Pumpkin, I wish we could have more time together. But if I let you continue to see me for the next few months it's only going to get harder for you. I am going to become very sick, and I don't want you to see that."
"But..." Brian starts, only to have Doris put her index finger against his lips to prevent any more words from coming out.
"Pumpkin, this is for the best," Doris says. "Now, you go live your life. You have Kevin here to help and protect you. You have school and friends, and so much to look forward to. And I know you will be an incredible man someday, because you are always have been an incredible boy. So I want to see you walk out that door with your head held high. And just know that I will always be with you, always," Doris says as she grabs Brian into a tight hug and he digs his face into the crook of her neck as he starts to cry. "I love you Pumpkin."
"I love you too Grandma," Brian says, through his crying.
"Now go," Doris says, releasing him from the hug. "Go and become all of those things I know you are capable of being. And I will be watching you, I promise."
"But I don't want to go," Brian says, as Doris almost pushes him to stand up.
"I know, Pumpkin," Doris says. "But I will never truly leave you," she says. "And we'll both have the good times we shared together and if you start to miss me you think of those times. Okay?"
"K," Brian whimpers as he starts to cry.
"Kevin," Doris says. "I think you should take your son home. There's no reason to drag this out any longer and make it harder on everybody."
I nod silently as I get up from the couch. I don't agree with Doris at all, but my hands are tied. I can't go against a dying woman's wishes it just wouldn't be right. I take a deep breath as I step around the coffee table and over to where Brian is standing. He looks up at me with a pleading look in his eyes that goes straight to my soul. He is silently begging me not to make him leave, to give him more time with the only living family member he has left. I wish I could do something, anything to change Doris's mind but I have tried everything I could. She has made up her mind and now I have to respect that. I slowly sink to one knee next to Brian and turn by the shoulders to face me.
"Angel, this is what your Grandma wants," I say, as strongly as I can as I try to hold back my own tears. "She wants to protect you, make sure you don't see anything that will hurt you. Do you understand?"
"Yeah," Brian says through his crying.
"Okay," I say. "Doris..." I say turning to her.
"Brian, I'm going to say goodbye now okay," Doris says, as she starts to cry again herself. "So come here," she says holding out her arms.
Brian quickly turns and falls into Doris's open arms and digging his face into the crook of Doris's neck as his crying turns into an all out balling. I stay kneeling and watch Brian and Doris hug each other tightly.
"I love you, Pumpkin, don't you ever forget that," Doris whispers into Brian's ear barely loud enough so I can hear her too.
"I love you too," Brian says through his sobbing.
"Okay," Doris says, gently pushing on Brian's shoulders so he is standing up again. "I'll always be with you, you remember that. Okay?"
"K," Brian says with a strong sniffle.
"Okay," Doris says. "Bye Pumpkin."
"No!" Brian says, his sobbing picking up strength again. "Please!"
"Kevin please take him," Doris says. "Before this gets any harder."
I gulp, as I stand up, and turn Brian towards me. With every ounce of strength I can possibly muster I pick him up, and turn towards the door. Brian is sobbing in to my shoulder as I walk towards the front door, and Doris stays in her chair, I don't look back as I carry Brian out to the car. I keep telling myself I'm doing the right thing, respecting Doris's wishes. But how could the right thing possibly feel this horrible?
Brian is still sobbing when we reach the car. I put him down on his feet, but still let him sob onto my shoulder as I kneel in front of him. I don't know of anything I could possibly say to make him feel better, so I just let him cry into me as I gently rubbing his back trying to comfort him the best I can.
"It's okay," I whisper gently into his ear. "I'm right here, it'll be okay."
Brian's sobbing slows and he pulls his face away from my shoulder. I look at him and gently run my right thumb over his left cheek wiping away a tear that is falling.
"I know it's hard," I say. "But sometimes, when you love somebody you have to do things that are hard."
"I still want to see her," Brian says with a sniffle.
"I know you do angel," I say, looking him straight in the eyes. "But we have to respect what she wants. And she's only doing this because she wants to protect you. She does love you, Brian. You know that now right?"
"Yeah," Brian says, slowly. "Can we go home?"
"Sure," I say.
The car ride home is silent, Brian just sits staring out his window as we make our way down the freeway. I can't help but wonder to myself if respecting Doris's wish is the right thing to do in this case. I have never been in this situation before. The people in my life who have died have all done so unexpectedly or at least they were never told they only had so long to live. It is my gut instinct to respect a dying person's wish, I am not doing so from experience. But seeing Brian this upset makes me question my instincts. I want to do whatever it takes to make him happy, but I feel that there is a line here I am just not supposed to cross. I am still fairly young myself, Doris, has lived and experienced more than I have. Who am I to question her? Maybe everything she is saying is right, maybe it is better for it to end this way instead of having Brian see her wilt away. At the same time I wonder if it is right for me to put Doris's wishes above Brian's. After all I am Brian's guardian not Doris's. As I drive my head actually starts to hurt as all of these thoughts go bouncing off the walls of my brain, rattling around in my head like a pinball in a machine.
"Are you hungry?" I ask Brian, as we get off the freeway and approach our McDonalds.
"No," Brian says, shaking his head.
"Not even for McDonalds?" I ask him, trying to sound happier than I am in an attempt to cheer him up.
"No," Brian says, shaking his head again as he just stares out his window. "I just want to go home."
"Okay," I say, softly.
When we get back to the apartment complex I pull my car into my covered spot and Brian gets out quickly. I follow him up the stairs and open the door for him. Before I can even get the door closed and locked I hear the door to Brian's bedroom close. It's funny how even though he almost never sleeps in there, that's the room he goes into when he is upset. I know he isn't angry with me, I can just tell. In fact I am probably the last thing on his mind right now. My heart tells me to go and try to comfort him right away. My brain tells me that he went into his room and shut the door for a reason. I decide to give him time now and comfort later, when he is readier to receive it.
I plop myself down on the couch and rub my hands over my face, trying to recover from one of the most emotional mornings of my life. It is times like these I wish I drank, just so I could go numb. I stare at the blank television screen waiting for my emotions to settle, but that never happens. The only thing that breaks my trance is Brian coming into the room and sitting down on the couch next to me. He doesn't say anything at first and I just look at him. His face shows that he was crying while in his room, his eyes are red streaks of dried tears cover his cheeks.
"Dad," he says with a little sniffle.
"Yeah angel," I say, looking at him in the eyes.
"Are you going to die?" he asks.
"What?" I ask.
"My parents died," he says, still looking into my eyes. "And now Grandma is dying. Are you going to die?" he asks as he starts to cry a little again.
"Oh angel," I say grabbing him into a tight hug. "I'm not going anywhere. You hear me?"
"Yeah," Brian says into my shoulder. "I love you, Dad."
"I love you too, angel," I say, before kissing the top of his head.
We spend the longest time just sitting on the couch, Brian in my arms. I think he's cried himself out but he still is upset. I hold him tightly to me, rubbing his back trying to give him at least some of the comfort I know he desperately needs now. I am forced to let him go, though when I feel my phone vibrating in my pocket.
"Hello," I say after wrestling the phone out of my pocket.
"Hey, Kevin," Dad, who does not know anything about what is going on with Doris says, cheerfully on the other end.
"Oh hi Dad," I say. "What's up?"
"Mom and I were wondering if you and Brian were free for dinner tonight," Dad says. "We were thinking of trying that new Italian place in Scottsdale."
"Um, I don't know," I say. "Hold on a sec," I say pulling the phone down from my ear and covering the mouth piece. "Angel, I need to talk to my Dad for a minute, I'll be right back."
"Okay," Brian says, as I get off the couch.
"Dad, today's been a really hard day," I tell him over the phone when I get to my bedroom and shut the door.
"What happened?" Dad asks.
"Well I found out this week that Brian's Grandmother has pancreatic cancer and has six months to live," I say. "We told Brian today."
"Shit," Dad says. "How is he doing?"
"Not good," I say. "But I'm not finished. His Grandmother doesn't want him seeing her dying, so she made today their last visit with each other."
"How could she do that?" Dad asks.
"She thinks she's protecting Brian from seeing her get sicker and sicker," I say. "I have to respect her wishes, but I totally don't agree."
"I don't either," Dad says. "But I think you're right, you have to respect what she wants."
"So I don't know if dinner's the best idea," I say.
"I totally understand," Dad says. "Son, if you need anything just call."
"Thanks," I say.
"And give Brian a hug for us," Dad says.
"I sure will," I say, before hanging up the phone.
I go back into the living room and Brian is sitting on the couch just staring at the blank television screen the same way I had been before. He looks up at me as I walk over to the couch, and I give him a little smile.
"How are you feeling?" I ask as I retake my spot on the couch next to him.
"Sad," Brian says, still looking at the television.
"You know that's okay to feel sad?" I ask.
"Yeah I know," Brian says, nodding his head. "Can you hug me again?" he asks, looking over at me.
"Sure," I say, as I turn slightly and open up my arms. Brian quickly slides his way into my open arms pressing his face into the crook of my neck as I give him a big squeeze.
"Dad," he says into my neck after a couple of minutes.
"Yeah, angel," I say softly.
"Is it bad I miss my parents?" he asks, as he wiggles free from my hug to look me in the face.
"Why would you think that's bad?" I ask.
"Because, you're my new Dad," he says.
"Angel, we talked about this," I say. "Remember I'm Dad number two. And it's absolutely okay if you miss your parents. You know why?"
"No," Brian says, shaking his head.
"Because it means you love them, and you know that they love you," I say.
"They did," Brian says looking down at the couch cushion.
"And they still do," I say. "They're looking out for you, and I'm sure they're very proud of you."
"You think so?" Brian asks.
"I sure do," I say quickly.
"You think Grandma will still be with me like she said?" he asks. "Even after she...you know."
"Brian, she'll always be with you," I say. "And just like she told you, you will always have the good memories of the times you were together to think about. No one can take those from you."
Brian doesn't say anything he just nods before falling back onto my chest and I quickly wrap my arms around him. I gently squeeze him as if doing so will rid him of the pain he is in. Minutes pass and I feel Brian's breathing change as he falls asleep on my chest, exhausted from a long and emotional day that is only a little more than half over. I gently get out from under him and lay him down on the couch, before going into his bedroom and getting his blanket. When I get back to the couch I gently cover him with the blanket.
"I'll always be here for you, angel," I whisper into his ear after covering him. "I love you so much," I add before kissing the top of his head.
To Be Continued...
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