After a two week interval, we drive onto the ferry once again. I cut the engine, and steal a glance at the seat beside me. Seemingly unaware of just what we are doing, or where we are going he stares out the window before he catches me staring. He smiles. I smile back. I ask him if he knows where we are going and he nods his head, slowly. I think he knows, but Im not sure if he completely understands. Because how can he? I don’t even completely understand sometimes. But he knows, so that’s enough for me.
I zip his coat all the way, hoping to keep the chills from the cold air from seeping in around him. We don’t need another round of antibiotics, and certainly don’t need another hospital stay. We make our way down the sidewalk, cold air nipping as we walk into it. I rehears my speech. I line up my words. I try to think of a joke, something, anything to break the ice.
After waiting a good ten minutes, the announcement comes in that the flight we were waiting on, has landed. “You can meet your passengers at the baggage claim” the announcement continues. And then goes on to say that the plane is taxiing into the one gate there is. It makes me laugh every time. One by one passengers unload, I divide my time from looking to see him exit, and watching Joshs face. Wondering, once again, just what is going through his mind.
In the middle of the passenger flood, he comes off. And for a moment, I am frozen. I forget to watch for the reaction, but instead am stolen by the idea that somewhere, somehow, the young boy I put on the plane not two weeks ago, has now been replaced by someone much different. Someone much bigger. Someone grown up. The squeal from beside me jerks me out of my thought. The thoughts were connected somewhere in between, and the light bulb went off. HES HERE! His eyes scream. He points, He jumps up and down.
I wonder how he will take this. I worry about the rejection, the hurt, the fear. I consider calming Josh, but the onlookers seem to think its funny. Which makes me heart sink a little lower. He makes his way through the sea of people, and out the exit door. He says hi, a broad smile across his face. I cant even think how to say hi, the words frozen somewhere in the back of my head. But it doesn’t seem to matter, because before I can toss out some icebreaker of a joke – he tosses Joshs hair.
He asks how hes been, and comments on how big he has gotten. He talks about the holiday, and asks if he got anything good. He doesn’t wait for a response, knowing he wont get much. But it doesn’t stop him. He continues to make conversation with the smaller blond head that was excited to see him. He doesn’t disappoint. He doesn’t reject. He stops in the middle of a crowded airport to give Josh what he needs, and what he wants. Without even being told. He pulls a small truck out of his bag and hands it to Josh. Whos reaction is exactly what I assume he was looking for.
Then he stands back up, makes eye contact and ask how its been.
I struggle to find the words I carefully put together. I cant remember what I was going to say, or how I was going to say it. I am still taking in how big he has gotten, and the fact that he took full advantage of those two weeks and grew up. I finally pull some words out, tell him were glad hes back, and tell him how much Josh missed him.
Then we make our way to find his bags.
He talks about his trip, the flight, the people. He talks more than I ever remember him talking before. He tells me all about the busy highways, and his sister. His sister who I know has taken advantage of the time away and grown up just as much. And in the middle of his talk, he pauses to say how much hes missed home. Then corrects himself. “Here. I mean. Ive missed being here.”
I worry about him, them. The kids. I worry about Josh. I worry that one day he will find himself with no one. People say that eventually – the kids will grow up and go their own way. I worry that he wont have that someone to have his back. I worry that because he doesn’t communicate, and converse with people – that maybe they will just give up on him. I worry that maybe somewhere along the line I have severed the relationships.
Then something like today happens.
And I realize that there is nothing I can do, or cant do that will ever break their relationship. Its nothing I have done to bring it together, and its nothing I can do that will bring it apart. The intense nature and passion that Josh has for Dylan is returned. He is never let down or rejected and he knows this. It isn’t something that has been taught, it isn’t a nature that has been installed, its not something I have even ever talked about.
It just is.
And when nothing else is going right, when the world seems to be crashing in around – there is always this. This unbreakable, unrepeatable bond that will always be there. No matter how grown up and big they get – they will always have each other. Just like they always have.
And that’s not something I can ever take from either one.