I feel like I should take a moment and tell you all a little bit about my relationship with my father-in-law here.
In 2005, when all of this story is taking place, I had known him for 7 1/2 years. We first met when he visited my then boyfriend at our college. From the first, he put me at ease. When I flew out to Indiana later that year on summer break to visit T, his dad told me, "If you ever feel like going someplace, there are cars in the driveway with keys in them. You take any one you want anytime. Be at home." That summer, T. was working as a waiter in a Mexican restaurant and, while he had managed to get some shifts covered, he still had to go to work most days I was there. One afternoon, I found myself making chili with his dad, talking religion and politics like it was the most natural thing in the world. Occasionally T's mom would wander through the kitchen and she'd just shake her head at us. Later, much later, when we were house hunting in Indiana, we stayed with them. I had a 2-month old who stubbornly insisted on waking bright-eyed at 5 a.m. each day and not wanting to go back to sleep for a couple of hours. My father-in-law would get up with me, make coffee, and, after A. was fed and happy, we would sit at their kitchen table chatting over our steamy black coffee. On that same trip, when late afternoon rolled around and the baby would get fussy and the heavy heat would have all of us cranky, my father-in-law and I would take tall glasses of lemonade out on the screened porch and sit on the glider with the infant seat between us. The breeze and the swaying would settle all three of us down. We got along famously, that man and I. He was one of the main reasons I was happy to move to Indiana from Virginia Beach.
Now that you have that background, let me continue...
My husband arrived home and our 6-month old was not actually awake yet. He slept in surprisingly late that morning. We walked into our room and sat on the bed. He looked exhausted. He leaned back on the pillow.
"How is everything? About the same?" I asked.
He closed his eyes for just a second.
"We had to discontinue life support."
We said nothing more. I remember laying in each others' arms with tears sliding silently down my cheeks. I didn't say one thing. I don't regret that... because, well, there were no words. When we heard babbling coming from our son's room, we carried on with our day.
"What do we need to do?" I asked.
"The whole family's meeting at the funeral home later this morning," he answered, "You and A. will need to be there too, especially so we can all help with him."
It was Tuesday. We had lost one precious family member. We would find out about another precious little life the next day. That's a story for next week.