He calls me, late at night…”How are you ?,” I say, voice croaky with sleep.

“Arrrgh, sorry, so sorry to wake you, it’s just…..I’ve been thinking “

and coming fully awake now “it’s all right, tell me?”

“I want to spend time with my sister’s kids….get them out of the house. I don’t know if I’m asking too much of you….but I want you there with me”, I hear the breath catch in his throat, the hesitancy, but I also hear the need, and even deeper down, his knowing, knowing I’ll agree. 

It’s a simple straightforward request, I could no more refuse him, than I could refuse the three children, so, I tell him “Yes”, adding “ it’s not a matter of helping you out, although I am happy to. I WANT to do something for those children, who’ve already seen too much, of one kind of life….not enough of the other” and then, inspired “let’s take them camping, what do you think?”

“Camping? Where?”

“Come see me, soon as you can…..we’ll figure it out”,  and then another small silence, “What? What is it?” I ask him….

“I want to be with you now”, and I hold the phone, listen to his breathing, speak very quietly to him, “Come, come now, come and sleep the night with me, we’ll make some plans tomorrow “, and his voice, rougher now, “I don’t want to sleep “, and me “neither do I,” so, “come, drive carefully, but hurry,”  and then there’s laughter…..I end the call and lie quiet, in the late night pre dawn dark, waiting, waiting for him.