Life goes on – Part 1
I held my mom’s hand as another one of my dad’s co-workers said, “We’re so sorry for your loss. Jerry was a great guy. A real one-of-a-kind. He’ll be missed.
If there was anything good about the funeral, it was the weather. It was early March, and the temperature was in the lower sixties (18 C). Of course, the weather was also to blame for the funeral. There had been a freakish winter storm a week before, and my dad had been killed in an accident when his car had hit a patch of ice, sending him careening into a tree.
Mom had been on auto-pilot the past week, just going through the motions. She was still in shock. I couldn’t blame her. Jerry had been almost as good a step-dad as he had been a husband. He treated my mom like a queen. In fact, my earliest memories were a couple of years after he had married my mom. I was five, and it had been Valentines’ Day. Jerry started sending flowers over to the house in the morning. And every couple of hours, he would send over a bigger flower arrangement, until just before he was supposed to get home, he showed up with several dozen red roses for Mom.
Mom married him when she was eighteen and he was twenty-four. I was already three years old when they married, although I don’t recall the wedding. Just the fact that he treated me just like he would his own kids, if he and my mom had been able to have any. Because of Jerry, I never missed or was curious about my real dad.
The minister from the funeral home put a hand on Mom’s arm, “Becky, let’s get you and Todd over to our limo. We’ll get you folks home so you’ll be ready for the reception.”
I put my arm around Mom’s shoulders and helped her toward the black limousine. The minister held her other hand and once we got her into the back seat, the minister closed the door and patted me on the shoulder, “Your mom is blessed to have a fine son like you, Todd. Things are going to be rough for a bit for her, just be patient with her and eventually the days will get a little brighter with time.”
I felt myself flush at the compliment and mumbled a thanks. At twelve, I wasn’t used to talking to adults who weren’t my basketball coach or my teachers, or my parents. Perhaps the minister thought I was older. I was one of the taller boys on my seventh-grade basketball team, just short of five-six (165 cm). I felt like I towered over my mom’s five-foot frame (152 cm), although I could just barely see over the top of her head. Of course, since the beginning of the sixth grade, I’ve grown eleven inches (28 cm).
I went around to the other side and climbed into the back of the limo and settled in next to Mom. We didn’t say anything. What was there to say? Jerry was dead and our lives would never be the same. Even though the reception was at our house, my dad’s co-workers put it together it. There were bottles of booze in the kitchen and lots of food. And after getting mom settled onto the couch, I grabbed her a plate of food and a short glass of some whiskey. It’s funny, nobody said anything about me pouring a shot of alcohol. And when I sat down beside my mom, I glanced over to the folks in the kitchen and none of them even gave me a second look.
I held the plate on my lap and put food into Mom’s hand every once in a while. She was mechanical, raising her hand to her mouth periodically, taking a bite, or lifting the liquor to her lips and taking an occasional sip. After an hour of this, Janet, my mom’s sister, came over and sat beside her and I took the opportunity to get up and stretch my legs and get something to eat for myself. I hung out in the kitchen, snagging a few sandwiches as I people watched.
There were a few women in the kitchen, all secretaries at where my dad had worked. They were quietly talking. The one time I listened in on them, I heard one of them say tampon, and pretty quickly tuned them out. After eating, I glanced over at the women and then back into our living room. Everyone was whispering. I grabbed one of the glasses by the bottles of liquor and poured myself the same stuff I had poured for mom earlier and headed toward my room.
The door was closed behind me before I took a sip of the fiery liquid. Once, at the beginning of the year, Demarcus, the star of our basketball team, had brought a flask of whiskey to school and all the boys on the team had taken a sip. This stuff was just as potent as it burned my throat going down. But it was also smoother, and it didn’t burn quite as much. I took a few more sips until I had drained the glass. The warmth in my stomach spread until I felt it even on my cheeks. It made the terrible ache in my heart hurt a little less than before.
But after a bit, it also made me have to pee. Our house was two stories. The lower level had all the rooms except for the bedrooms. My bathroom was down on the first floor, while the master bath was between my bedroom and my parents. I had no interest in going back down and mingling with people as long as Mom’s sister was with her. So, I went into her bathroom and locked the door before remembering to raise the lid on the toilet. The last thing I wanted to do was piss off my mom with a wet seat.
I left the black dress belt fastened and unzipped the slacks and pulled my underwear down enough to pull my penis out. Every boy grows at their own pace and in their own way. As I stood there, holding my two inches and waiting for my plumbing to turn on, I wondered why my body was so out of whack. I was the tallest white boy on our basketball team. Yet, in the showers, it was bad enough to be the only boy without hair number one downstairs, but I was also the smallest. When soft, I was about two inches. God, I hated showers after basketball practice.
When I came out of the bathroom, I saw my Aunt Janet’s head peaking over the lip of the stairs. “Oh, there you are, Todd. Most everyone’s leaving. I’ve got to get home too. Give your mom a bit of time and she’ll be fine. She’s a real trooper.”
I came back downstairs. She was right. Most of Dad’s coworkers had gone. But they had been kind enough to leave a half-dozen bottles of half-empty booze; most of it top shelf quality. Mom was just where I had left her, sitting on the couch, while my aunt and her husband made an effort to give her hugs before leaving.
Mom had never been a heavy drinker before. Neither had Jerry. They might drink a bottle of wine every month or so. And a bottle of whiskey might stay in the cabinet for a year or two. Still, I grabbed the alcohol and stashed it on the top shelf of our cabinet, out of Mom’s reach. I felt numb. I had just lost the man I called Dad, and I had kept the grief away by compartmentalizing things. Mom was barely functioning at all, and I’ve seen enough things on TV and online that I worried she might crawl into a bottle to deal with the deep and intense pain she felt.
The minister from the funeral home was the last person to leave. From the front door, he pointed toward the kitchen, “I left you and your mom a couple of plates of food. There’s plastic wrap over the tops. Just put them in the microwave when you get hungry. There are a couple of casseroles in the fridge too.”
I mumbled my thanks.
He squeezed my shoulder, “It’s tough, kid. And the numbness will wear off in a few days, and y’all will hurt like nothing else. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. That’s when it gets easier.”
He ran his hand through graying hair and gave a loud, unhappy sigh. Then he reached into his jacket and pulled out a small flask. He unscrewed it and took a sip. His eyes winced as he swallowed, “I know. Ministers aren’t supposed to do this. But all I do is bury people, and sometimes it really sucks. The only thing worse than burying young men like your daddy, is when I have to bury children. You’re young and you’ll bounce back first. It’ll be hard, but you need to be there for your momma. I’ve seen a lot of widows, kid, and she’s deeper into her despair than most.”
I nodded. I didn’t know what to say. I took his hand when he offered it and then closed and locked the door behind him. Mom hadn’t moved. I came over and resumed sitting beside her. I slid my arm around her. I didn’t know what to say, so I just sat and held her until she finally stirred as the light outside slowly faded and the room darkened.
Her voice was quiet, just a whisper, “What am I going to do without you, Jerry?”
“I’m here, Mom. You’re not alone.”
She rested her head on my shoulder. A moment later I felt wetness on my oxford dress shirt. She was silently crying. With my arm around her shoulders, I pulled her against me. By the time her silent tears finally stopped, the room was nearly dark.
“Is there anything to eat?” she murmured?
“Yeah. Let’s go into the kitchen and eat. I can warm it up for you,” I said as I let go of Mom and stood, offering her my hand.
Her sigh was heavy, even painful. But she took my hand and climbed to her feet. She shuffled her feet over to the bar that separated the kitchen proper from the dining room. Whenever it had just been me or her, or me and Jerry, we would eat dinner at the bar. But when it had been all three of us, we sat in the dining room, around the table.
She climbed onto the bar stool and I warmed up the two plates and joined her. We ate in silence. I didn’t know where her head was, but figured she was still in shock. All I could do was be there for her. Afterward, I took her by the hand and led her to the stairs. I had to help her up each step and once I got her to her bedroom, she grabbed my arm, her fingernails digging into it, “Don’t go, Todd. I can’t do this.”
I wasn’t sure what ‘this’ was, but I guided her to her bed and she sat down on it. She was frail and lost. In all my twelve and a half years, I had never known her to be anything but petite. And even now, as a twenty-seven-year-old widow, I doubt she breaks the scale at one-oh-five (48 kg). And now, as she teared up again, you’d be forgiven for thinking she was half her age.
I knelt down beside her and slid the black low-rise heels from her dainty feet. Then I helped her lie down on what had always been her side of the bed. Before I could move, her fingers reached out, gripping my wrist, “Stay in here. I can’t stand the thought of being alone.”
I nodded, “Okay.”
I slipped my dress shoes off and climbed into the bed on Jerry’s side. Mom rolled onto her side, facing away from me. I could hear the sobs again, and it broke my heart to see her in such a state. I slid over next to her and rolled over, resting my chest against her back and sliding my arm around her. I whispered, “I’m here for you.”
Ever since the cops showed up and told us about Jerry’s death, I have been bundling thing up inside me, compartmentalizing my emotions. But lying on my side, listening to Mom mourn, I let the grief wash over me too. I fell asleep crying my eyes out, holding the woman who had given birth to me as she wept herself to sleep.
It was pitch dark when I woke up. My eyes were itchy and my throat was dry. I heard deep, slow breathing coming from Mom. She hadn’t moved an inch since I had cuddled with her, my big spoon to her small one. Although with only a five-inch (13cm) difference in height, I’m not much of a big spoon. My arm was still draped over her arms and her body was molded against mine.
And I realized then I had two problems. The first, I had to pee. The second, I was as hard as I could be in my dress pants. Worse, Mom’s backside pressed against my crotch, and I felt incredibly uncomfortable when I realized against what my pent-up erection was pressed.
I shifted my hips, moving back, and then when I was a few inches away, I drew back my arm and crawled to the end of the bed while Mom slept through it all. Barefoot, I slipped out and went into the bathroom. I closed the door and unzipped my dress pants and fished out my penis. Some guys are showers. Whether soft or hard, there’s not much difference between the length of their penis. Others, like me, are growers. My little two inches was now a full four inches. Thankfully, I have never been erect in the showers after basketball practice. But I was under no illusion. Even my four inches was below average for the guys I showered with after practice.
It took a bit before I could pee, but once done, I felt better and my little nail had returned to its noodle size. It was almost four in the morning and as much as I love my mom, I wanted to get some better sleep, so I went into my bedroom and undressed and climbed into my bed. My head hit the pillow, and I was out.
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