It happens sometimes.
Not every day, not every month. Sometimes.
The Boy Child had a minor medical issue recently. It was necessary to take him to the doctor. The medical issue itself did not really lend to this, but the Boy Child? Much like his mother, he worries. So we went. A twenty dollar co-pay is worth my sons peace of mind.
It was a new doctor since we live in a new town. I answered the eleven million standard questions and was standing next to my son as he was weighed (he was thrilled to be over 100lbs finally) when the nurse said to me, "Are both his parents alive and well?"
My immediate thought was, yes. Jason and I are alive and well. Well, I wish Jason wouldn't smoke. I also wish he's wear his apnea machine with regularity so I can sleep. I'm neurotic and depressed and so anxious that I feel like I'm jumping out of my skin most of the time, but I really didn't think that's what she meant. We don't have cancer. We don't have heart disease. We aren't diabetic.
We aren't his biological parents. Just me.
I asked the nurse to repeat the question...not because I didn't hear her, but because I needed a minute to be able to formulate the words, "His father is deceased."
I don't know if that will ever become easy to say. It's been two years. Upon the request of the Boy and the Girl, they now share my husbands last name. It was important to all of us for that to happen. Jason has been dad for a very long time and I would never, ever try to imply anything otherwise. He is the dad. Period.
But oh. Oh. The questions.
It would be easier I guess, if I had the answers. It would be easier if I could say, "This was his family history. He suffered from this disease. Here is the information you need to make sure my son doesn't have something horrible and life-threatening."
I can't. I know how old he was when he died. I know the basic information that was on the basic death certificate that I had to fight to obtain a copy of. That's it.
That's not enough.
I worried for so long that my children would never have answers. He walked away and never sent them a birthday card or a Christmas present. Never called them to on the phone to see how their day was, never pushed them in a swing in the backyard. I was sure, so sure, that they would want to know why. That someday they would call him up or show up on his doorstep and demand answers. When he died, that door closed. I was angry. Furious. I was sure the questions would be directed at me and I knew I couldn't answer them.
The questions haven't come though. Only a few, and only from the Boy Child. He's asked what his biological father looked like, and I dutifully shared with him the (very few) pictures I have. He asked if his biological father was good at art. If he liked to read. The Girl Child never asked anything at all, and resisted my efforts at conversation regarding it. She's fine, she'll tell you. I'm sure if it's true, but I'd like to believe that she's strong enough to make it so. I hope so anyway.
So, it seems, these days? I'm the only one with questions.
The years are slipping by so quickly and I've become excruciatingly aware that I don't have many years left with this people living in my home with me. Each morning they dress in their little uniforms; my Girl in creased pants and a white cardigan, my son with paint from art class on the sleeve of every collared shirt he owns, and walk out into the world. Together. Talking rapidly all the way to the school bus and probably all the way to school too. My son was sitting on the couch the other morning, hugging the dog, and my throat closed up at the sight of him there, all arms and legs and skinny little waist. He's almost fifteen. He is my boy...so close to being grown and away and not here every day to talk to me. My daughter hugs me close, "Bye Mama!" and smiles with those dimples. I'm still mama. They are still my babies.
I don't understand, and I've never understood, why he didn't want this.
I get why he didn't want me. I do. I am, on my best day, a hot mess. We were young. I was needy. I'm still needy sometimes. I didn't have a whole lot to offer. I wasn't even myself back then. Not really.
I don't understand how anyone could not want them. I will never, ever understand that.
It's not always been easy. There have been times which were very hard. Lonely times. Poor times. Sick times. Sad times. There still are. It's not perfect. It's never been perfect.
Those are so small, so very small, compared to the happy times. The hilarious times. The cuddly times. The sweet times.
These are my people. They are my family. They are my heart. I would give anything in the world to answer their questions, to give them hope and peace.
Sometimes, only sometimes, I get confronted with my past. With things I can't change. With all the hurts and the ghosts and the things that weren't meant to be.
Every, every day I look at the boy and the girl who came up from the ashes.
Every day, I am glad for the walking through the fire.
Every day, I wish I had the answers.