"So Dad, have you written any more chapters for your book?" Caleb's voice tugged at my mind, a tether to hold me fast to the present and prevent me from running too far and long into the past.
I turned to answer my oldest child, and noticed that framed as he was by the doorway of my bedroom, his height was remarkable. "Yes, I have written a few, and I made some changes to the ones that you have already seen."
"Anything I can read tonight?"
"Sure, I think I have most of them printed out here somewhere," I said, and began to search the pile of paper on my nightstand.
"I can't wait for your book to come out; it will be a bestseller, and they'll probably make a movie of it."
"Well, I am glad you and your mother have that kind of faith in me, because I sure don't," I laughed, pulling from the mess before me a short stack of papers held together by a paper clip. I held out the chapters, then pulled them back before he could take them from me and said, "You know, this is a tough thing to write about."
"I know it is." He looked me in the eyes, making me feel safe for the moment.
"Some of the stuff in here is pretty heavy, but it is the truth, you need to understand that. There's a lot of love in this family, but there is a lot of harshness too. I don't want you to think less of anyone in here." My voice cracked a little, and I paused, holding my breath and pushing away a breakdown.
"Dad, do you want me to hug you? I mean, you look like you are sad right now, and maybe you need a hug, if that's what you want."
"Yes, I could use a hug, I am in bad shape," I shuddered.
"I know you are."
As we hugged, I felt his strength and became aware of his stature. I felt a moment of panic, fearing that I had somehow missed the last eight months of his life and that his childhood was passing like a breeze through my hair. I squeezed him then, perhaps a bit too much, but I couldn't let go because I didn't want the moment to end. Then I thought about the strength in his arms, and noticed the width of his shoulders and the height of his head so close to mine. I was happy; my son was hugging me, an outward expression of love and compassion for me in my moment of great need. Yes, he was leaving childhood behind, but as he did he was becoming a man, a great man who knew what it meant to love someone and show it.
I could have passed away in that moment, happy and fearless for the future, but I have two more to finish first, and I think Elizabeth needs my help.