Douglas adores his granddaughter, little Penny. The adoration is mostly from afar, as he remains cautious with his and Louise’s health. But Douglas reassures himself this is temporary, and soon, very soon, he’ll be the primary babysitter for a thriving little bundle of joy.
David sets up a video chat most evenings, so Douglas can sing the baby to sleep. They are bonding well, Douglas notices. He sees that his son will be a very different kind of father than he was, and he rejoices in this knowledge.
One evening, Penny snores quietly in David’s arms, but does not end the video chat. Into the quiet, Douglas speaks. He tells David how deeply proud he is, how much joy he finds in observing his blossoming into fatherhood, how terribly sad he is that Sasha is not here to experience the same.
“I was never the father you needed, I know that. I caused tremendous pain in your life, son, and for that, I am so truly sorry. I wish I could travel back in time and change things. Mostly, I wish I could change me, the man I was then, into someone who realizes just how precious family is. Just how important children are. Your own children, you know, not just children in general. I wish I could say to that old me: shape up, pull yourself together. The most important thing you will ever do is give this little human what he needs. Nothing else can compare.
“But you know what? I think the younger man I was would reject that notion anyway. I was so absorbed in my own suffering. I would convince myself that I had nothing to give.
“And here you are, David, going through such loss, such suffering, more than I faced. I see the pain, I want you to know that. I hope you let yourself feel it, as awful as it is. Don’t mask it over, don’t pretend it isn’t there. That’s your old way. I trained you in that old way, and I was so wrong, so very wrong.”
Douglas weeps now, and sees on the screen that David weeps, too.
“My son, my beautiful, wonderful, strong, loving son. There is a long, long road ahead, and you must keep putting one foot in front of the other. And for as long as I can, I promise, I’ll walk beside you.”