Eldredge pond, Fall 2007
"He's my partner."
Perhaps you can chalk it up to the fact that I have a miserable cold, and as a result, my resistance has been lowered.
Whatever the case was, I'm not sure that it was what Ashes was expecting to hear when she came storming into the bedroom, with a grim-looking Corb following behind her.
I had left work early today, still feeling like dog doo after a week-end spent on my deathbed, flailing about like a third rate Camille. In case you didn't expect it, yes, it's true: in sickness, I am a bit...melodramatic. Josie's railed against it through the years, and now, so does Corb. But what do you expect from someone who's convinced that he's dying of a new deadly disease every other week?
In my sickness, I had asked Corb to pick up the kids from the homestead, and he made the mortal mistake of interrupting Ashes a half an hour before "her show" was over...a show we don't get on our cable connection, but Josie does on her satellite connection. As a result, Corb had the misfortune of encountering Ashes at her Miss Thingiest.
World War III erupted, and Corb felt the need to hand down some punishments.
"And I don't see why he has the right to punish me!" Ashes started screaming at me. "After all, it's not like he's my father or anything! That's you, and you're just going to stick up for him, because you never stand up for yourself and stick up for me."
"That's not why I agree with Corb," I said to Ashes, feeling my face flush, and not from the cold. "And he has every right to punish you, for how you behaved."
"He does not! He's not my father!" she repeated.
"No," I said, and paused. And then, I took a deep breath and said it.
That thing. Something I've been meaning to say for years.
"But he is my partner."
Ashes made a face, taken aback.
"What does that mean, Dad?" asked Theo, later. "That Corb's your partner?"
"It means that Corb's going to be around for a long time, sweetie," I said to him. "It means that he's going to be in your life for quite a while."
I know. It's not perfect, and for those who don't know the whole back story, it's probably surprising that it's taken three years to get this far. Let's just say that we had agreed that we would tell when the time was right, for a variety of well thought out reasons...and I guess, tonight was the right night.
And for me, just that simple statement moved things forward. Somehow...I don't know...just saying those words removed a huge weight from my shoulders, I think.
It's hard to explain. But I think, somehow, by not saying anything for so long, I've noticed that, with the kids, it's been difficult, for some time, to articulate much of anything, sometimes. This one's hard to describe, it's going to sound clumsy, but I think the best comparison is something like aphasia--or, an inability to properly communicate, to properly get the words out. I'd find myself struggling, stumbling, walking (or, more appropriately, talking) through quicksand, over even the most simplest of explanations, at times.
I'm not talking all the time. But enough of the time where it was really bothering me. It was as if, by silencing the full extent of my relationship with Corb, reducing him to simply "roommate" status, I was also, somehow, silencing a part of myself.
But now that part has finally...finally...come into the light. And with it, I think I've rediscovered my voice.
Tonight, after I tucked the kids into bed, I moved into our bedroom, and moved to my side of the bed. "Good night, partner," I whispered to Corb, and kissed him on the forehead.
Partner. We've got a ways to go. But we've also got all the time in the world.
I love you, big guy.