Hello everyone! I hope that you’re all having a wonderful Christmas season, and getting to spend time with your families and loved ones. As my Christmas gift to my readers, I wanted to share with you a story that I wrote last year. I hope you enjoy it! Feel free to share it.
Her Baby Boy
A mountain of dirty clothes was piled in the middle of her laundry room, emitting a smell that could only be described as “wet dog.” Loud music blared from a radio upstairs. The fridge, which had been carefully filled only yesterday, was already looking like the carcass of a dead buffalo after a pack of hungry wolves had been through.
And she didn’t care in the least about any of this: her baby boy was home from university for two glorious weeks.
It all seemed so long ago, and yet she remembered ever detail: the endless negative pregnancy tests, the invasive procedures, the tears. None of that had mattered in the end as she held her beautiful newborn son, marvelling at his perfection as he nursed from her breast. She could still remember the smell of his soft skin, the feel of his downy hair. She remembered how they had delighted in his first smile, his first steps, his first word. She remembered long nights of worry and exhaustion when he was sick, kissing boo-boos, and wishing she could kiss away the pain when he was targeted by bullies.
When she looked at her son now, it was difficult to reconcile the tall, handsome young man with that newborn baby. It made her feel old, but more than that it made her realize – again – that the day was coming that he no longer would consider this house “home.” Already he was only “visiting” – as if she could ever consider him a mere guest. The visits would become less and less frequent. His phone calls were already heartbreakingly sporadic. She knew that he just didn’t realize how some days what she wanted more than anything was to hear his voice, telling her about his day like he had when he was little.
As they ate dinner that night, she noticed again how much he looked like his father. Not that his father was there for comparison: he was working late – again. Still, it was nice to have a little bit of time, just the two of them. He would probably be going out with his friends that night. After all, he was nineteen: of course he’d rather be out having a good time than sitting at home with his mom. She understood it, she just didn’t like it.
Their conversation seemed a little bit strained tonight, and she wasn’t sure why. Yesterday, he’d been so exuberant when telling her about his classes. Now she tried in vain to get him to open up, but he kept directing the conversation elsewhere. She asked about his friends at university; he asked her opinion about a few Christmas presents that he still needed to buy. She asked if he was dating anyone; he asked about his grandmother’s health, and when they’d be going over to the nursing home to see her. She felt like it was an exercise in frustration, but if there was one thing that she knew about her son it was that pushing him to talk rarely accomplished anything. By the time that she had closed the door to the dishwasher and turned it on, he’d already disappeared.
She sighed and went out to the living room. Since it looked as if she was going to be all alone for the evening, she had decided to curl up with a good Christmas movie. She put in “It’s a Wonderful Life”, turned off the overhead light, and then curled up on the couch with her favourite afghan.
The young George Bailey was just about to fall through the ice of the local pond when she heard her son enter the room. He quietly came over to the couch and sat down beside her. They watched the movie in silence for a few minutes. “Are you heading out soon?” she asked him. She could sense that something was wrong.
“I’m not going out tonight,” he replied, still staring at the television.
“Your plans got cancelled?” she asked.
He shrugged. “Sort of. I guess.”
She wanted to just enjoy having him there, beside her. She wished that he would curl up beside her, his head in her lap, like he did when he was little, but she knew that was asking too much. Instead, she moved her popcorn bowl in between them to share, and they sat and watched as George Bailey fell in love with Mary, and then what would have become of the town if George Bailey had never existed. They watched as the whole town came together to help one man, who had unknowingly made a difference in all of their lives.
As the movie ended, she noticed that tears threatened in his eyes. Finally he asked, “Do I make a difference, Mom?”
Shocked, she answered, “Of course you do!”
He was silent for a moment, obviously deep in thought. “Mom, ask me again if I’m seeing anyone,” he said.
She felt her eyebrows furrow together, and her head tilt to the side, but she did as he asked. He took a deep breath, which caught in his throat, making him shudder a little bit. “Yeah, I am,” he replied. “His name is Jared.” He looked up at her, finally, as one tear made its way down his cheek: the lights from the Christmas tree made it glow green. “I’m gay.”
Every memory, every moment of his life flashed through her mind. Every hope and dream she had for him. She reached over, and pulled him to her: this tall, handsome young man who would always be the tiny newborn she had cradled in her arms. “I know,” she whispered.