Douglas had heard of the accident, his son David’s big black Jeep clipping Leo in the crosswalk as he ran to save Marilyn’s old dog, Precious. These names were incantations in Douglas’s mind as he underwent his own cancer treatment.
Leo, the person who had been there when Marilyn went to the hospital for the last time, who had cleaned up after her illness with quiet cheerfulness, who had mourned her loss with open tears.
David, the son who had become a stranger to Douglas, the result of a marriage that could readily be considered a mistake. Douglas spent his adult life working to keep the thought of the boy being a mistake out of his conscious mind. Everything in the older man’s being insisted that babies, children, are not mistakes. They are human beings, bundles of potential for making art, love, careers, joy, no matter the circumstances of their birth.
Somehow, though, had David picked up on his father’s regret over the marriage to his mother? Had David interpreted that regret as a message to him, a message of rejection? Is that why he’d walked away as a college student?
Precious had welcomed Douglas when he came to live with them. The scruffy dog had sniffed Douglas, turned around three times, and settled into a ball at his feet, when the decision was made for him to move in. Douglas loved her for that. Marrying Marilyn for her health insurance had turned into the most love-based marriage Douglas could imagine
Marilyn. The truest love of Douglas’s life. As his health rebuilt itself, all indications good that his prostate cancer was gone, or had hidden itself in the deepest darkest cells of his body, invisible to the scans and tests. Douglas’s heart had to reknit itself together as well. He knew which would take longer.
As summer began, Douglas’s physical strength allowed him to return to Pine Street. He debated whether to put it off a bit longer, a pit of dread in his stomach making itself known whenever he imagined the reunion with David, and his first steps back inside the house which no longer held Marilyn’s presence.
But something inside Douglas wanted that feeling back, the one he’d had when Precious had curled up at his feet. The feeling, he thought, of belonging to a family. And the people on Pine Street, David included, were the family Marilyn had given him.
It was time to go home.