We sat in the bleachers holding the twins on our laps watching the football game unfold on the field in front of us. I kept looking for number 21 in the long line of teenagers cheering for their teammates on the field. I didn’t see Kyle among their group. Rick exclaimed, “Kyle is out on the field! Coach Kelly put him in!”
I looked where Rick was pointing and I could make out the 21 on Kyle’s football jersey. I said, “JJ and Josh can you see Kyle?”
JJ stood up on my lap and said, “Yes, I can see him, Daddy.”
Ashley, who was sitting next to me, said, “I can see him, too, Daddy.”
I looked over at Rick who was grinning from ear to ear. “My son is playing football!” Rick enthused. I could tell he wanted to jump up and shout it to the entire world!
I took his hand and gave it a squeeze, “Coach Kelly is giving him a chance to show what he can do.”
Rick’s smile couldn’t get any wider, “Yeah! Kyle is going to show them he is the best football player they have on the team!”
Josh climbed off of Rick’s lap and joined JJ on my lap. “May we get some snacks?” he asked.
I said, “Yes, we will get snacks for everyone at halftime. Can you wait that long?”
Josh nodded his head, “Yes, I can wait.”
“Let’s watch Kyle,” I said. I pointed to where Kyle was on the field and said, “Look, Kyle is running down the field to so they can throw the ball to him.”
We watched as Kyle turned around looking for the ball. I held my breath hoping Kyle would be able to grab the spiraling football out of the air. As Kyle easily caught the ball, Rick was on his feet shouting, “Run for it! Go! Kyle!”
Kyle must have heard his Dad because he turned and ran the ball down the field. I watched as two players from the opposing team closed in on him. I put the twins down and stood up so I could get a better view of the action at the other end of the football field. JJ lifted up his arms to me and said, “Up, please.”
I picked him up and he twisted around in my arms to watch Kyle running down the field. Josh tugged on Rick’s hand, “Dad, I want to see.”
Rick picked him up and pointed, “Do you see Kyle?”
Josh said, “Yes, I see him. He is running faster than those other guys.”
Ashley and David were on their feet watching their brother as well. Ashley shouted, “Run, Kyle, Run! Go Eagles!”
We watched anxiously as Kyle managed to evade being tackled. Rick started yelling at the top of his lungs, “Go! Kyle! Go!”
We shouted, “Yeah!” as Kyle ran into the end zone to score our team’s first touchdown of the game. Rick grinned and turned to high-five me, Ashley, David, Mrs. Reed and the twins. I looked into my husband’s face which was flushed with excitement. I could see he was so proud of Kyle that it was a wonder that his buttons weren’t popping off!
Mrs. Reed said, “I am glad Kyle is getting some playing time tonight. He was a little disappointed last week when he only got to play for the last two minutes of the game.”
Rick nodded his head in agreement, “I think Kyle talked to Coach Kelly about getting more playing time.”
Mrs. Reed said, “Yes, Kyle did talk to him. He told me about his conversation with Coach Kelly yesterday.”
“It has been a good day for Kyle today,” Rick said. “I am glad he made a touchdown for his team. It is a good way to celebrate his 14th birthday.” To say Rick was beaming was an understatement!
|Hauppauge High School Football Team|
The gentleman behind Rick tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Congratulations! Your son made a great play.”
Rick said, “Thank you.” Rick extended his hand and said, “I am Rick Lernier.”
“I am John Galasso and this is my wife, Ann,” he said as he shook Rick’s hand.
John had a ruddy complexion with red hair, blue eyes and an engaging grin. His two front teeth were gold and shone brightly in the floodlit stadium. He appeared to be of a medium build. His wife had jet black hair, dark brown eyes, an aquiline nose, and perfect smile. Her olive skin and thin build reminded me of a Roman goddess.
Rick introduced us, “This is my husband, Glenn, our twins, JJ and Josh. This is Kyle’s brother and sister, David and Ashley, and this is their grandmother, Mrs. Reed.”
John said, “Nice to meet you. I believe that we live down the street from you or at least I think we do because we have seen you two running past our house most mornings.”
I smiled and said, “We try to get our run in before the kids have to leave for school.”
Ann said, “I have tried to get John to go out running but he doesn’t like to run by himself. Maybe you could stop and pick him up in the mornings.”
Rick nodded his head, “John, you are welcome to join us if you like.”
“I don’t know if an old guy like me can keep up with two young guys like you two,” John said with a laugh.
“We will take it easy on you for the first few days to help you get accustomed to it,” I said.
John grinned, “Okay, are you sure it’s okay for me to join you? I don’t want to horn in on your private time.”
I laughed, “Don’t worry about that, John. Rest assured that I will make sure we get our private time.”
Ann said, “John tried to tell me that he couldn’t go running with you guys because it was obviously your time to be alone without the children.”
“Well, it has been that but John is still welcome to join us,” Rick said. “I will be spending the next few weeks in Washington so Glenn will need a running partner.”
“So you trust me not to take advantage of your husband while you are away?” John said with a wide grin as he winked at me.
I did a double take when I heard John’s question. Rick laughed and said, “I think that Ann has you well trained so I don’t have to worry about that.”
Ann nodded her head, “You are right about that, Rick. John knows not to mess with an Italian girl like me.”
John laughed, “You should have seen her when she proposed to me. She told me we were getting married and that I was to be at the church at a certain time or she would send her brothers to get me.”
I looked over at Ann in surprise. She smiled and said, “It’s true. I always get what I want and I wanted John.”
“Don’t ever cross Ann or you will live to regret it,” John said with a smile. I could tell he was completely serious despite his jovial attitude.
Ann said, “Don’t believe everything John tells you. I may be determined and persistent but I am very loyal to my friends and family.”
“That means she has decided you are now considered a friend, Glenn. That is a very good thing,” John said.
Ann smiled and said, “I decided you were going to be my friends from the first day I saw you two running past my house. I told John that day that we needed to get to know you and to welcome you to the neighborhood. Unfortunately, we have been a little slow about welcoming you to the neighborhood.”
Rick smiled, “I am glad we finally met you.”
John said, “I am, too.” John stood up and pointed to the action on the field, “There is your son, again, with the football. He intercepted the ball!”
We turned back to the game and stood up to watch as Kyle ran down the field, zigzagging to avoid being tackled. The rest of the crowd came to its feet as he ran unopposed into the end zone to score his second touchdown. We went wild!
As Kyle returned to the bench, his teammates grabbed him and carried him on their shoulders. Kyle held both arms high with his fingers giving the “v” sign for victory! He was grinning from ear to ear as he pulled off his helmet. They put him down and Coach Kelly congratulated him as someone handed Kyle a water bottle, “Great job, Reed! Well done!”
Kyle grinned and said, “Thanks, coach.”
Kyle looked up into the stands searching for his Dads. He finally spotted them and waved up at them. Dad gave him the two thumbs up sign. He returned the sign and looked over to see Daddy give him the same sign. He grinned and returned the sign, relieved that Daddy approved of his performance on the football field. He knew Dad was excited and supported him but he wanted Daddy’s approval, too. His two Dads were very important to him. He remembered how they had taken him and his siblings into their home when his parents died. He had grown to love and respect them in the months he lived with them. Each one had reached out to him in their unique ways – Dad through sports and physical activities and Daddy through music and his love of the arts. They had given him so much during those first few months he had known them and they had continued giving during the intervening years since then.
He had been crushed when Grandma told him about what had happened with the Fairfax County employees who had been charged with evaluating his Dads’ ability to care for him and his brother and sister. Kyle knew that Grandma didn’t have much longer to live because of the cancer and he hoped that things would work out now that they had moved to New York. He wanted so much for his Dads to adopt him. He needed them and he knew that they needed him.
Daddy had always encouraged him to play sports and stay physically active, specifically Daddy made sure Dad and Kyle could spend time together which meant being involved in sports. So Kyle had been very surprised by Daddy’s opposition to his request to play on the freshman football team. At first, he had been angry and he had gone to Dad to see if he would get a different answer. Afterwards, he felt bad about asking Dad to intervene with Daddy on his behalf but he really wanted to play football.
Later, Kyle had apologized to Daddy for taking his case to his Dad. Daddy had accepted his apology but Kyle knew that things weren’t quite the same between them as they had been before he had pushed so hard to get what he wanted. Seeing Daddy smiling and obviously excited about his performance on the football field, made him feel better about his decision to push his Dads to let him play football. Maybe now, things would return to normal between him and Daddy. He turned back to the game feeling good and very happy that his family was in the bleachers to support him.
I gave Kyle the thumbs up sign and smiled at him. I knew that I was still hurt by what he had done by going around me to his Dad but I knew it was time to let it go. Rick had noticed things weren’t right between me and Kyle and cornered me about it. I remembered the conversation very clearly.
“Glenn, we need to talk about you and Kyle,” Rick said one night after we had gone to bed.
I pulled back from his embrace and looked him in the eyes, “What are you talking about?”
“Don’t pretend you don’t know,” Rick said. “You are still angry with Kyle about football.”
I thought for a moment and then responded, “No, I am not angry about Kyle playing football. However, I am very hurt that he went around me to you instead of working with both of us. More importantly, I am not happy about how you sided with him before consulting with me. You didn’t even ask my opinion before you made a decision that we both should have been party to from the very beginning. I thought we had an agreement that we would work together and treat each other with respect at all times. The way the football issue was decided threw away everything I thought we had agreed to when we got married, Rick. Yes, I was angry initially with Kyle for playing us off against each other. I was deeply hurt by the disrespect exhibited by both of you. I have tried to forget about what happened by making excuses for your behavior. I know how excited you are to have a son playing football but I can’t just let it go, Rick. There are some fundamental things that went wrong that can’t be allowed to continue or we will have some really serious problems later on between us and our children.”
Rick looked surprised and hurt, “I wasn’t expecting this, Glenn. I thought you were still angry with Kyle over playing football.”
“I was at first, Rick; however, as I said before, I got over being angry when I saw how happy Kyle was when Mrs. Reed signed his permission slip. Later, Kyle came to me and apologized for what he had done. I accepted his apology but warned him it had better not ever happen again,” I said.
“What can I do to make things right?” Rick asked with a furrowed brow.
“Rick, I shouldn’t have to enumerate your surrender terms if that is what you want from me. This isn’t about trying to placate me, Rick. There was a breach of trust that has really shaken me. You can’t expect me to say “It’s okay” and pretend that everything is the same as it was before this whole situation occurred.”
“Glenn, I don’t know what I can do to change things. You have been treating Kyle pretty coldly lately and I intended to talk to you about that tonight and instead you dropped your bombshell on me,” Rick said with an edge of anger in his voice.
I took his face in my hands and gazed deeply into his eyes, “Richard James Lernier, you have missed the entire point of this discussion. I love you very much and I want us to be successful as a couple and as parents. Yes, I admit I have been a little distant with Kyle and I can rectify that easily enough but I can’t fix what is going on between us without your help. Getting angry with me will not solve anything, Rick.” Rick tried to look away from me but I held his head still and I leaned in and kissed him lightly on the lips, “I love you, Rick. Remember that before you say anything else.”
I held his gaze for a few moments longer and then I released him. I got up and walked into the en suite and turned on the light. I shut the door, locking it and sat down on the edge of the Jacuzzi bathtub. I sat there in a kind of daze. I couldn’t remember a time when we had argued like this; most of the time we agreed on things or at least agreed to disagree. I sat there thinking for quite a while. I don’t know how long but I knew it had been a long time. I finally stood up and looked at myself in the mirror. I hadn’t been sleeping well for a while now and the big black circles around my eyes were very prominent. I looked and felt like a zombie!
I was startled when Rick knocked on the door. “Glenn, please come back to bed.”
I opened the door and was immediately encircled by Rick’s arms. His eyes were red and I could tell he had been crying. I wrapped my arms around his waist and laid my head on his chest. We stood like that for what seemed an eternity. Finally, Rick said, “I’m sorry, Glenn. I didn’t realize that I had violated your trust when I sided with Kyle. I was just so excited to see him play football. Will you forgive me for being so blind to what was really happening?”
I held his gaze and said, “Yes, I forgive you, Rick. We can put that episode behind us but what worries me is the future.” I kissed him and held him tight.
Rick released me and took my hand. He led me back to our bed. We climbed in and pulled the blankets up over us. Rick pulled me close to him and wrapped his arms around me. “I promise I will consult with you first before making decisions that affect our children,” he said.
“I promise to do the same,” I responded. “I think we need to have a family council to make sure the children also understand that pitting us against each other is not acceptable and won’t be tolerated.”
Rick nodded his head, “I agree. Can we wait until after Kyle’s birthday to do it?”
“Yes, we can wait but we need to hold our family council soon,” I said.
Rick said, “I will broach the subject with Mrs. Reed so we can have a united front when we talk with the children.”
“Agreed,” I said.
We talked about a few other things before I leaned over and kissed Rick, “Enough talk for tonight, Mr. Lernier. It’s time to go to sleep.”
Rick said, “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” I replied.
I placed my head on his chest as he tightened his embrace. The last thing I remember was falling asleep to the beat of his heart.
I was brought back to the present when JJ pulled on my hand and said, “I have to go wee-wee.”
I looked over at Josh and asked, “Do you need to go, too, Josh?”
Josh nodded his head, “Yes, Daddy.”
I looked at Rick and said, “We will be back. I am taking the boys to the restroom.”
Rick said, “Okay. While you are up, will you bring back some snacks?”
“Sure,” I said. “Ashley and David will you come with me and help carry the snacks?”
Ashley said, “Yes, we will help you, Daddy.”
The two followed me out of the bleachers. When we returned, Rick and John were carrying on quite an animated conversation about their favorite football teams. Ann smiled at me and said, “They haven’t stopped talking since you left, Glenn. I told John he would like you two but he wouldn’t believe me.”
John looked over at me and said, “I have to be honest with you guys. I never would have thought I would actually say that I liked two gay guys but I think you two are pretty good people.” He turned to Ann and said, “Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” He turned back to me and continued, “Anyway, I admire both of you for getting married and raising a family despite all of the opposition there is out there. Quite frankly, I have always been extremely prejudiced against homosexuals and I am the first to admit it.”
Ann laughed, “One thing you will learn very quickly, Rick and Glenn, is that John is very outspoken if nothing else!”
Rick laughed, “Yes that has been very obvious to us.”
“See, Ann, they don’t mind. You said they would be offended if I told them the truth. I figure it is best to be honest about things; that way people always know where you stand. I have watched how you interact with your children and I approve of what you are doing. They are well behaved and are always polite to me when I see them. I am glad you moved into our neighborhood,” John said.
I smiled, “Thank you for your endorsement, John. Can we use you as a reference?”
John laughed, “Sure, as long as you don’t mind me to being blunt and straight forward about what I think!”
Rick said, “I think we can handle that part.”
We continued to chat with our neighbors as the game progressed. Kyle’s team won the game and we joined the rest of the fans cheering for them as they exited the playing field.
We waited in the parking lot for Kyle. When he finally showed up, Rick pulled Kyle into a bear hug. “I am so proud of you!”
Kyle was grinning from ear to ear. He turned to me and I pulled him into an embrace and I said, “I am very happy for you, Kyle. You did a great job tonight.”
Mrs. Reed hugged her grandson and said, “I am so happy I got to see you play tonight. Congratulations!”
Kyle was floating on cloud nine as he climbed into the back of Mrs. Reed’s mini-van. Mrs. Reed climbed into the driver’s seat. I got in beside Kyle while Rick sat up front with Mrs. Reed. I said, “Kyle, I am very proud of you for keeping up with your studies. It is pretty impressive to see you organize your time so you can fit everything into your schedule.” I ruffled his dark brown hair and I leaned over and kissed his cheek. “I love you, Kyle.” I wasn’t sure how Kyle would react to me giving him a kiss on the cheek. Now that he was 14, certain things weren’t allowed anymore especially since he was in high school! He had informed us earlier in the day that he didn’t want us to embarrass him in front of his friends. He didn’t want us to ruin his image!
Kyle smiled and said, “I love you, too, Daddy.”
After we arrived at home, we gathered in the kitchen. Mrs. Reed placed a cake decorated like a football field with goal posts and miniature football players on the table and we lit 14 candles. We turned out the lights and sang “Happy Birthday” to Kyle and he blew out the candles.
Rick asked, “What did you wish for, Kyle?”
Kyle looked over at Rick and said, “I wished that we could be adopted by you and Daddy.”
My eyes misted over and I blinked hard. I said, “We wish we could move things along but we have to be patient.”
Kyle nodded his head, “I know. Grandma explained the whole process to us. It seems to be taking a very long time.”
Mrs. Reed interrupted us by handing out pieces of cake with vanilla ice cream. She said, “It is best not to dwell on things you can’t change, Kyle.”
Kyle said, “I know. You have told me that many times.”
She nodded her head, “I will continue telling you until you figure it out.”
Rick said, “When you are finished eating your cake and ice cream. You can open your birthday presents.”
After we opened presents and got everyone ready for bed, we gathered in the living room. Mrs. Reed said, “Let us pray.”
We knelt in a circle and held hands as she prayed, “We thank you God for Kyle and the success he has seen at school this year. We are eternally grateful for all the blessings you give us every day. We are especially grateful for all of our children – Kyle, David, Ashley, JJ and Josh. Please bless them and watch over them this night as they sleep. Please send your angels to be with this night. Amen.”
We all send, “Amen.” Kyle helped his grandmother to her feet and held her arm as she walked over to her favorite armchair. Before sitting down, she hugged Kyle and kissed him on the cheek. “Thank you, Kyle.”
Kyle asked, “Do need me to get you anything, Grandma?”
“No, thank you, Kyle, I am fine. Go ahead and go on up to bed. I know you have had a long day,” she replied.
He kissed her and then came over and gave me and Rick a hug and a kiss. “Thank you for the best birthday ever!”
Rick smiled, “I am glad you had a great day, son.”
“It has been an extremely wonderful day!” Kyle exclaimed and left the room. We heard him take the stairs at a run.
I laughed, “That is one very happy boy!”
“Yes, he is,” Mrs. Reed agreed. “I heard from the county today. They have completed their work and our case will move to the courts. They agreed to waive the 90-day period since the children have already lived with you in the past and are currently living with you now. They said we should hear from the court in a few weeks.”
“That is great news! Have you told the children?” Rick asked.
“No, I haven’t told them. I don’t want to get their hopes up only to have them dashed to pieces like the last time,” Mrs. Reed said. “I think the fact that the child psychologist’s evaluation came back very positive helped them decide to move forward.”
“It helps that we are dealing with the same adoption agency that helped us with the twins,” I said. “They already had all of our information on file and were very willing to work with us.”
Mrs. Reed smiled and said, “Yes, it has been much easier this time. Your lawyer friend from Boston has also been very helpful.”
“How did your visit to the doctor go today?” Rick asked.
Mrs. Reed frowned but then smiled, “They say I am a living miracle. The cancer has spread like a wild fire throughout my body and they don’t understand how I am still alive.”
“I think it is because you know that you have responsibilities to the children,” I said.
She nodded, “I believe that God has given me the strength to see this adoption process through to the end. I have to see the children safely entrusted to your care, boys. I can’t rest until that has been accomplished.”
Rick nodded, “We understand. Have you thought about recording your life story?”
“Yes I have but I don’t know how to use a computer very well,” she said.
“We can set you up with a recording device that includes video and then you can use it whenever you feel up to talking,” Rick said. “I will take care of it tomorrow.”
We gave Mrs. Reed a hug and a kiss. We said, “good night” and retired to our room. As he closed the door behind me, Rick took me in his arms and kissed me. Then he led me to our bed and pulled me down next to him. “I think we need to make funeral arrangements for Mrs. Reed. I don’t think she will last much longer.”
I nodded my head, “I thought that too as she was talking with us tonight. It makes me sad because I had envisioned that she would be able to hold out until school got out in the spring.”
“She might do just that but I think we need to be prepared,” Rick said. “We need to make sure she finishes recording her life story, Glenn.”
I said, “I agree. If you will show what to do, I can help her with the computer stuff.”
“I will do that in the morning. We already have a lap top with a built in web cam. I will show you how to set it up to record. She might be nervous at first so I think we should structure it in an interview format until she gets comfortable talking into the microphone,” Rick said.
“I am really excited about it. I am thinking we should include the children in this project. I want them to ask the interview questions so they get to hear it firsthand. I know Mrs. Reed has had an interesting life and it will be wonderful to hear her tell her story,” I said.
Rick leaned over and kissed me, “I love you, Glenn. You always know how take my ordinary ideas and turn them into something fantastic.”
“You do know the reason I can do that? It’s because I married the best guy in the entire world,” I said.
Rick gave me a lecherous grin and said, “And I married the sexiest man alive.”
I grinned back at him, “Does this mean you plan to seduce me and ravage me?”
“It does,” Rick said as he pulled my shirt over my head and pulled off my shoes. Next, he unbuttoned my jeans and pulled them off leaving me completely naked on the bed. I repositioned myself on the bed as Rick stripped out of his clothes. My eyes devoured his perfectly sculpted body and his very erect piece of steel. He stood over me and grinned, “Are you ready?”
I licked my lips and nodded my head completely mesmerized by the look in his eyes. I felt like I was on fire as Rick lightly ran his hands over my bare skin. It wasn’t long before I was begging him to make me his!