David’s thumb hovers over the speed dial on his phone. Uncertainty about what to say, an unfamiliar sensation, prevents the thumb from dipping down to make the call.
While his thumb hesitates, the phone rings, the caller ID telling him his father, Douglas, is calling.
“Dad?” David answers, always (now) concerned about his father’s health, always (slightly) prepared for more bad news.
“David. I’m fine, feeling stronger every day.” Douglas still has the uncanny ability to know what his son is thinking, and respond to that, instead of merely responding to his words. “I just called to thank you for helping Louise, and to check on you.”
Another unfamiliar sensation: accepting the offer of his father’s concern about him. This one forms a warm pressure around his heart.
“Doing fine, too, Dad,” David replies. He pauses. “Thanks for asking,” he adds.
“What’s on your agenda for today?” Douglas asks.
“Making a grocery run. Just psyching myself up to face the aisles. Need anything, Dad?”
His father ignores the question. “How many folks are you shopping for?”
David counts silently. His father, Louise, himself. The elderly neighbor whose husband died of the virus early on. The single mom up the street, a teacher, who had health and money but no time. Always an extra bag for the food bank. Did that count as one of the “folks”?
“Not that many,” he answers. “And I like it. It feels good. Who knew, right, that I would feel good helping other people?” David offers a chuckle to cover his discomfort at disclosing this to his father, the man to whom he’d kept his heart closed for so long.
“I did, David. I’ve always known the good man inside you, always seen the scope of your ability to care. While you were busy rejecting that part of yourself, I kept it square in my sights.”
David knows, then, it is time to make the call he’s been avoiding.
“Thanks, Dad. Hey, I’ve got to go. Text me your grocery list.”