I didn't get the text message from Steve until he asked me when he got home yesterday. I had an all day seminar, but was able to get pick up the kids from aftercare. I also had plans for dinner and was determined to eat the potato cheddar soup before I had to report to orchestra at 7, but with extra time needed to brew coffee. Between a 15 minute drive home (rush hour traffic for us is really just hitting all the red lights), letting the dog out, and furiously peeling potatoes, I didn't noticed the texts:
Steve was supposed to be going to his semi-annual, and always desperately needed weekend away with the boys, a.k.a "War Council." It's an extended weekend where 5-6 guys find a cheap place to rent and play Dungeons and Dragons while taking turns cooking ridiculously complicated meals. Lots of drinking. Lots of "men talk" - usually about nothing significant. Steve usually comes home physically wiped out, but emotionally recharged.
I've written about preparing the kids for the impending death of Nonna before. This time, when Steve talked to the kids about it at the dinner I was determined to eat, I could barely swallow. My stomach was in knots.
Bridget seemed to hear the news, but took on my coping mechanisms of staying busy, and outwardly positive. It was almost as if she didn't hear it. She chooses when she wants to be sad.
Stephen heard it for it's full serious measure. It took a couple of beats for the news to sink in. He was finished with his soup. He put his head down on crossed arms at the table and started to cry as if he were going to be yelled at. He tried to hide it. He wanted to be brave.
We took turns talking to the kids as they went into their separate rooms. I started so that I could make sure each was going to be OK before I drove off to orchestra.
I stayed on campus for an extra hour late to catch the talk back after the play in the other theatre. By the time I got home, the kids were very much asleep, and Steve was in the family room with a terrible look on his face. I thought for sure Nonna had gone. So I waited while he watched some Jon Stewart to calm down to tell me what happened.
When he said "good night" to the kids, Stephen asked,
"Is Nonna going to be ok when she goes to heaven?"
"Sure, honey. She'll see Papa again. She'll be happy."
"I'm just so worried about her."
As Steve started to choke back the tears, Stephen said, "Dad, I just feel so sorry for you."
He held out his arms for his dad. They both had a good cry for about 20 minutes.
Steve got choked up telling me this.
Kids who show extraordinary promise in math and reading get tested for "gifted" programs. Both of our kids are bright, and well behaved (at least for 8 year olds). But this son of ours is extraordinarily in tune with other people's feelings. We are the ones gifted with the good fortune to be his parents.