Lately I’ve spent a lot of time lamenting the strained relationship I have with my parents. But this evening, I spent quality time with a young man who recently lost one parent—his mother and my dear friend, Faith.

It’s been six long months since Faith lost her battle to lung cancer, and hardly a day passes that I don’t think of her. In the months leading up to her death, I did what I could to help the family by picking up James and Faith's two boys from school on Monday evenings. After Faith died, I continued the routine, which been expanded to twice a week and now includes dinner with James and the boys, who are 12 and 17 years old.

It’s been a pleasure getting to know Faith’s family, and a fast friendship has formed with everyone, but especially the oldest son, David. A somewhat shy fellow, David has taken an interest in ballroom dancing, his mother’s passion and how she and I first met. David’s interest peeked when some of Faith’s dancing friends performed during a weekend event in her honor. He decided he wanted to learn to dance, too.

As it turns out, the local university offered free ballroom classes on Monday nights and David, James, and I have participated every week since January. In the last several months David has learned the basic steps in Fox Trot, Tango, Rumba, Swing, Polka, Cha Cha. Every time I see him dance in class, I cannot help but think how pleased Faith would be. It’s a bittersweet feeling, to be sure.

Part of David’s interest is encouraged by the fact that prom is only a couple weeks away. He has invited a girl from class to be his date—his first ever.

“So what are you wearing to prom?” I asked one evening over dinner.

“I don’t know. I haven’t figured that out yet,” he replied.

“Do you need help picking out a tuxedo?” I asked. Like most teenage boys, David lives in jeans and t-shirts. Formal wear might as well be a space suit. David was happy for my guidance, and we made a date to shop for prom.

David researched what the going rate would be for tuxedo rental in our area, and decided it made better economical sense to buy one from a formal wear outlet. On this night alongside scores of mothers and sons, we browsed racks and racks of jackets, vests, and ties, pulling a number of combinations to take back to the fitting room

With each ensemble, David emerged from the dressing room seeming more confident than before. And every time I gushed over his new look, I also felt a twinge of sadness that David’s mother was not there to witness this transformation. Faith did not fear death, but she did mourn not being able to see her boys grow into men. And as I stood in the fitting room, arms loaded with the rejected outfits, I realized this was one of those milestone moments that Faith had longed to see. How overwhelmingly unfair that I, a relative newcomer to David’s life, stood for even a moment in his mother’s absence to share in this occasion.


kenju said...

Diane, this made me cry. You should know that almost certainly, she is watching and thanking you for taking care of her boy.

Had I died when my children were younger, I would have hoped for a good friend like you to pick up the slack. That boy is so lucky to have you.

AmyD said...

Yup, tears here too...

You are such an amazing person, and I know you are helping to fill the vast void they feel in their hearts and lives. You might feel honored to be able to do this, but you should also feel pride in yourself.

You are making a big difference, and like kenju said, I know Faith not only sees this, but is able to look down and see how well her boys are coping and keeping her memory alive, too.

Åsa said...

Oh Diane! I don’t know what to say, but I’m sure she is watching and is happy that a good person like you is there to help her son. Life is not fair.