I sat and stared at the box for what felt like hours but was just minutes. My train of thought was interrupted by Grayson.
“Whatcha got here bro?”
“Oh just something Lucas sent.”
“WHAT! Get rid of it now it could be a virus or something?”
“What whose got a virus?” Beau said as he suddenly appeared
“That snot nosed good for nothing fucker Lucas”
“BOYS! It is too early for that kind of language. Now come and eat so you can help your grandpas’” Mom said
I stared at the box some more…
“Hey Teej, why are you sitting here by yourself, have you been crying?”
I looked up at him and he saw my black eye.
“Who did that?Come on tell me now.”
I could see his face redden. Ever since I came out Lucas has been by my side; Brothers from another mother is something Lucas said quite often.
If we were brothers how the hell could he do this to me?
I stood up took the package and tossed it in the trash.
I joined Beau and Grayson at the table. Grandma was sitting by the windows watching Grandpa.
We ate breakfast bundled up and went out to help. By then the Grandpas’ were almost done with the driveway. It probably helped that most of the cars were in the garage and Grandma and Grandpa Frazier had my other Grandpas’ car in their garage.
“Why don’t you guys take a break and let us young ones finish”
“Yeah we don’t want you old geezers to get hurt” Grayson said
“I’ll show you old geezer” Grandpa Ron charged at Grayson and knocked him into the snow.
They both stood up laughing. Mom came out with hot chocolate for them while we took over.
I cleared the side walk while Beau and Grayson spread salt to prevent the ice. We were just about done when out of nowhere a snowball came whizzing and hit me right in the head. I turned and started making snowballs thinking a fight with Beau and Grayson was about to ensue. It turns out I was wrong…. It was the Grandpas’. We had an all-out snow ball fight in the yard laughing and diving as we’d hit each other. It was the most fun I’d had in a while.
I suddenly stopped… Dad used to do this to us all the time. Tears started to flow and everyone was looking at me. I dashed into the house covered in snow leaving a path from the door to my room. I collapsed onto the floor and kept crying.
“TJ, what is the matter.” It was grandma.
She pulled my hat, gloves and jacket off and pulled me into a hug as we sat on the floor, while I cried. Mom came in and sat with us on the floor. Grandma rocked me like she used to.
“TJ are you ok” Grandpa Joe had joined us.
I just continued to cry making grandma’s shirt wet. Eventually I stopped and was sniffling.
Mom handed me a tissue and blew my nose.
“Dad used to do that to us all the time when we’d clear the snow while he’d sit on the porch and watch. He said doing work builds character. Once we were done we’d always have epic snow ball fights and then have to clear the driveway again.”
“TJ do you know that your Grandpas’ used to do that with your dad right, it’s a family tradition” Mom said
“What having to clear the drive way twice?”
“No smarty pants the snowball fights. I am sure they meant no harm.”
Grandma said she needed to go change her shirt as it was wet from my tears. She kissed my forehead and then left.
Mom stood and just patted me on the shoulder and left the room too. I got up and went and showered and threw on some shorts and lay in my bed. I must have been worn out as when I woke my brothers were curled up against me. We slept like that a lot before we moved. I know Beau and Grayson looked up to me being the oldest. I just smiled and closed my eyes again. I woke to Grayson shaking me it was dinner time. He said I missed lunch. Beau wasn’t in the bed and Grayson said he was down stairs. I wasn’t going to bother with a shirt but Grayson said we had company and Mom would send me back up. I picked out a random shirt and went down stairs. The company was Aunt Kelly and her husband Uncle Mark and their kids and Uncle Murray and Uncle Tyler and their kids.
I really didn’t want to be here with everyone. Before I could head back upstairs, Mom saw me.
“Hey sleepy head come on into the dining room and eat.”
“Do I hafta?”
“Yes you do. All of your cousin’s are here.”
“How long did I sleep is it Christmas already?”
Mom laughed. “No we just wanted to have dinner with everyone since we won’t see them for Christmas”
I just rolled my eyes. I walked into the dining room and every seat was taken. I was saved nowhere to sit. Mom then noticed and quickly made room for me to sit by her. My brothers were having fun as they always enjoyed having company. I’d rather be alone. It’s just not the same without Dad. He hasn’t even been gone two months and it feels like we are moving on without him. I reluctantly take my seat and mom puts a plate in front of me. I don’t touch a thing on my plate. I noticed Grandpa Ron looking at me with a concerned look. I get up from the table and he follows me.
“TJ, let’s go into the study and talk”
“Grandpa I’d rather be alone.”
“I know but please humor an old man?”
I follow him in and he closes the door. We make our way to the couch and sit.
“I know this must be rough on you. It’s your first Christmas without your dad. Your grandpa and I have been talking a lot as we know how much your dad meant to you.”
“It just been so hard, I feel like people are moving on so fast.”
“People grieve different. Some people can move in instantly while others not so fast. You had an incredible bond with your Dad. He loved you so much…”
At that point grandpa began to cry. I hugged him and then my tears started to flow. After a few minutes they stopped.
“TJ if you ever need to talk know everyone is here for you.”
We went back and joined everyone. Mom told me she put my plate in the microwave in-case I was hungry. I declined and back to my room and closed my eyes… I was thinking about all the fun times I had with dad. I heard my door open and close and then I felt someone snuggle up to me.