I knew I was going to lose this battle. It isn’t that I don’t like dogs, it’s just every boy will want one, and with the prospect of more boys, I’ll have more dogs than a local animal shelter. Let’s not think about Charlie’s horse.
The contest was a good idea; I just needed a prize that would motivate that isn’t an animal. Maybe a bird, they could place it in a cage in the conservatory. No, on second thought, they would want a parrot. Fish now that would be something that would be easy to care for, and they could have a fish tank in their room. Now to find a way to slip it into their minds. Of course, we could have a mixture. I wouldn’t mind a few dogs, no more than three. Parrots, if kept in the cage or on their post in their room, fish, no problem there, then each could have one, no saltwater though.
I put away the prints, heading toward the kitchen for coffee, I heard someone crying. I stopped and listened, then began moving toward the sound. I found Harry curled up in the corner of the living room. I sat down beside him and pulled him into my arms. He continued to cry as I began to rock. My heart was crying for him, he was hurting, and there was no one to take away the pain, “Harry, let’s go for a ride.” We went out the front door. I got in my car, and Harry sat in the front with me. I drove to my special place.
Arriving at the cemetery, I walked with Harry to my lost son. There were tears in my eyes, and there always will be. Harry looked at the stone. He looked at me and saw my tears. I sat on the stone seat, pulled him into my lap. “When we lose something very dear to us, I find it always hurts. This is the resting place of someone very special to me, just like your mom was very special to you. I come here whenever I asked myself why, why do I seek out boys to save from the streets, why am I hurting when a boy says no, or why do I hurt when a boy also hurts. For me, the answer lies here, under that earth, under that stone without a name. Let me tell you the story of my lost son.
I sat there crying as I told Harry about the young man I should’ve been able to save, and I didn’t. When I was done, I was crying as hard as Harry. Harry looked at me, “Thanks, Dad. I now know I’m not the only one.” Still crying, I held Harry close, I guess I was saving him, for the moment he was the lost son. I’m not sure if he realized it or not, it didn’t matter. Both of us were feeling the pain of someone special that was lost to us for now.
“I have faith that someday, I’ll see that young man again so I can apologize for not saving his life. That’s the little thought that keeps me going. Someday you too will see your mom, she’ll be pain-free and radiantly beautiful. That’s the thought that will keep you going.”
Harry never struck me as a demonstrative kid, but he gave me a strong hug and a kiss on my cheek. I kissed him back, let’s go and get some ice cream. That always helps after crying.
I drove to the local ice cream parlor and bought two of their large ice cream containers, one chocolate, and one butter pecan. Heading home, he was holding the ice cream, “This is cold, how much further?”
“We’re here. Take one into Gram, and I’ll take the other,”
“You shouldn’t have bought ice cream before supper. The boys won’t have an appetite” Then she remember who she was talking about and laughed. “What’s the occasion?”
“We went to check on someone, he was okay and said we should have ice cream.” Maria knows where I was. My eyes were still red.
One of the boys heard ice cream; they were all in the kitchen within 1 minute. Steven knew, must be the ice cream without looking at me. He remembered I did the same thing when I took him there, as the other boys did as well. Quietly, they came and hugged me, surprising Harry, they hugged him also.
Of course, boys being boys, they had to have a scoop of each, now we are not talking about ice cream parlor scoops. I don’t know where Maria got her scoops, but they were the largest scoops I have ever seen. She said she uses them when making a certain German cake. I never understood, but the boys did.
When everyone had a bowl of ice-cream, they wanted to know when supper would be. I laughed; I couldn’t help it. Maria laughed as well.
Supper was late, as I expected. The boys didn’t complain. Sometimes I think they like to kid around as well. When they begin to kid and joke, I interpret that as a sign of healing. Don’t jump to the conclusion that they are totally healed, for that isn’t true. They will carry their scars for the rest of their life. Even Steven bears his scars, and sometimes he slips in my bed after a bad nightmare. He isn’t the only one who looks for relief from nightmares, my bed, or my scent somehow is an anchor that reminds them they are safe, and the causes of their nightmares will not happen again.
We sat around the dining room table. Yes, the kitchen table was too small and chatted. The boys were excited about the attic rooms. They wanted to know if they get first dibs. I hadn’t heard that term in a long time. The boys had to explain it to the boys who didn’t know what it meant. One thing that was becoming very clear to me was the boys picking up foreign languages. Hearing English, French, Italian was becoming more obvious to me. Even Harry, with his English accent, was slipping French words into their discussions.
I was growing tired, physically as well as emotionally. “I think I’m going to go to bed. I have some work to do tomorrow, and I want to get an early start. I also want to take the time to check out the construction. All of you sleep well.” I went and gave each boy a hug and a kiss good night.
I went and took a relaxing hot shower, brush my teeth, slipped on my sweats, and headed right to bed. I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.