The hour turns and with it the news comes on the radio. The world is filled with all types of evil. At the end of today’s hit parade of nefarious behavior is a report about Harvey Weinstein’s horror show followed by another report about sexual harassment.
My beautiful 14-year-old is on the cusp of manhood. So, I attempt a teachable moment.
“No means no.”
“If you ever act as if that is not true, I will come back from the dead if I have to and beat you.”
“I would never.”
“Good. The only person you need power over is yourself. And if she’s too drunk to consent, that is ‘no’ too. And I can’t imagine it being any fun either.”
“Yes, Mother…” The darkness hides the flush that I feel reddening his cheeks.
“Good. No, means no, and sex should be interactive. And remember, I will haunt you and beat you.”
My work here is done.
We listen to the radio.
“Mom, does PD….”
He can’t say it.
“Well, it’s not a life enhancer, but no, it shouldn’t hasten my death.”
Turns out I’m not going to utter it either.
When my precise – he died eight months to the day after his cancer was diagnosed – and extraordinary father was dying he said that he didn’t mind dying so much, but that knowing when was troublesome. I understand the profundity of that statement now as I didn’t at 12. All of us know we have an expiration date. Without a named malady we dare to dream that the date that is stamped upon us is decades away. With an illness… well, the decades we dare to dream of are fewer.
“That’s good,” says my son exhaling.
“Glad that you think so.”
I see my son’s smile from the corner of my eye.
At least that’s the party line. The neurologist who diagnosed me said, “My patients die with PD not from it.” And I want to believe… but there are obituaries that mourn those who have lost their battle against neurodegeneration.
“I love you, Ma.”
“I love you too.”
And we ride for the last few minutes in the cocoon of that love, both of us praying that I will be around for a few more milestones.