Rays of the morning sun begins to peak up on the distant horizon as it begins it’s daily journey across the sky. A myriad of brilliant colors scatter across the sky almost as if they are a reflection of the turmoil in my heart. The news anchor on the fuel pump is talking, droning on about something that I have no interest in hearing.
I open the door to my fuel tank and unscrew the cap. Like an automated machine I insert the card into the reader at the pump and begin to fuel my truck. Today is the day that summer ends.
“Dad! Can I get something?” My son eagerly asks.
“Sure, why not. Just keep it small and resealable.” I replied.
“I suppose you want something too?” I ask his older brother
He looks up from his phone and murmurs what I account for as an affirmative. He slowly gets out of the truck, staring at his phone the entire time, and walks with his little brother into the convenience store.
I reservedly put the nozzle back into the gas pump and walk into the store to pay for the days worth of snacks.
We begin our journey, a journey that will end my summer. An eleven hour journey from start to finish. My boy’s journey will only be half of that. It is the journey home for them.
As we passed the city limits I told the boys to tell me something they truly enjoyed over the summer with me. The conversation started out slow, as it always does. But eventually the stories started coming to life. We discussed our trip into the mountains that turned into a complete disaster. I bragged how I was the grand champion at go cart racing, then my boys brutalized me about getting violently ill in the amusement park. We reminisced about the renaissance fair character who chastised me for asking for a “pepsi” that he had never heard of, got a message notification on the I-phone in his pocket.
Then the story about breaking out the inflatable boat and how the air pump broke down. They made fun of how purple my face was blowing up that stupid boat. However the short term suffering was rewarded with a fun filled day in the water.
I decided to let the boys choose the music to listen to. They bombarded me with this so called music. So after some time of listening to their music, I returned the favor and let them listen to some of my music (I’m talking to you Dierks Bentley!)
Eventually we came to an equilibrium and found music we all enjoyed. By the end of our musical en devour we were all singing out loud. It was the worst sound you could ever imagine, and yet the most beautiful I will ever remember.
Somewhere around hour four of our drive my oldest fell asleep. So then it was just my youngest and myself awake in the truck. After several minutes of quiet my son asks me a truly profound question that caught me off guard.
“Dad, if I die before you will you get a tattoo of my hand? Would you do that for me?”
Stunned I replied “Of course I would do that.”
The emotion that came over me was overwhelming . I waited for a second for the tightening in my throat to subside. I then with my voice off tone and ragged I asked him a question.
“If I die before you, will you do the same for me?”
My son replied “Of course dad, what kind of question is that?”
Thus a pact was born.
Even as an experienced parent…….my children continue to surprise me with their insight.
We pulled up in front of their mother’s home. It was as if a part of my soul was leaving as I hugged my son’s goodbye. Even my oldest was a little emotional. My youngest yells out on his way into the house. “Remember our deal dad!”
I, of course will remember.