Over the next two weeks, my progress with learning how to navigate with, recover from challenges and using my prosthetic Leg as an extension was sure and rapid. My confidence soared as did my self-worth and perceptions. Sure, I have had many difficult times. The worst required a trip to the Emergency Room for some stitches on my head just above my right ear, but the incident did not stop me. I just made a mistake that cost me some discomfort but it did not stop me from foraging on toward success.
My goal was to graduate from the crutches soon since my balance, coordination and gait were getting stable. This goal was reached on a Wednesday afternoon when Alex was sitting at his desk doing paperwork and not at all paying any attention to my efforts at walking, bending, turning, sitting, getting up from a sitting position, reaching down to retrieve something from the floor. He paid no attention to my requests for him to assist me with going to the bathroom so that I could pee.
After about an hour of his not paying attention, and despite increased urgent requests to visit the john, he got up and left the office with the excuse of going to another one of his offices to take care of other matters requiring his attention.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, without even thinking about the perils of heading down the hall on my own without my crutches, without any fear of falling because the sense of urgency was becoming totally intolerable, I took off down the hall, found the restroom, opened the door, went in, opened up my jeans, moved aside one of the larger straps, whipped it out and peed like a mad man with purpose, all the while cussing like a sailor coming back to port after a particularly long voyage at sea.
Reversing the process, I returned to the office where I had been receiving training in the safe cocoon of safety to find him, once again, sitting at his desk paying attention to his paperwork, and generally ignoring my return.
"It is about damn time you returned. I waited over an hour to have to pee and just about peed my britches." I said with indigence.
"Did you pee in the bathroom, David?" Alex asked in quiet contemplation, almost dismissively.
"Damn straight I did, no thanks to you!" I said with certainty.
"So what are you complaining about, David? I've never before pulled your thang out, nor held your hand while you did, nor will I start. What were you expecting me to do? That I would do it this time? What's your point?" Alex asked with concern on his face. Not only did he have open concern on his face, but he also had this little point of smirk and a twinkle in his eyes - barely perceptible, but I had grown to know him over the time we had worked together.
"But I could have fell and seriously hurt myself … as if you cared." I said.
"But you didn't, David, so whatcha complaining about?" Alex asked with amusement in his voice.
It was at that moment when I realized what he was saying. I broke out in a huge grin and said "Yeah, though I received no help from you, thank you very much!" I said, then started laughing uncontrollably, standing there all alone.
"You graduated, David. You did it all alone, yet you were not all alone. I was watching you from the office down the hall that was close to the bathroom. You were a trooper, and I'm soo proud of you. You did it!" Alex said with absolute certainty in his voice, and on his face.
"Yeah." I said as I walked over to his desk and took the lone remaining seat.
Then it struck me. The ramifications jumped on me like a ton of bricks and soon I was sobbing like a baby, not in sadness, but with joy.
He got up from his desk and stood in front of me. He reached out a hand that I took and stood in front of him. He took me into his arms and gave me a great big hug and said "Congratulations, David. You're going to be just fine. You have worked hard, and your work has paid off in spades. There's no reason for you to return unless you need some adjustments or replacement straps, or if you just want to come back for a visit. Perhaps I will call you when I have a difficult patient - maybe you can help him…" Alex said quietly.
Then it dawned on me that I had not reached this milestone alone. He had been there all along, and he had taught me and I had reached a level of confidence I had never before experienced.
"Thank you, Alex. Thank you for everything. Instead of my being alone today, I now realize that I have never been left alone, and that you, my dad, my Peter and Jeremy were and are there for me all along, I just did not see it until this very moment." I said wiping the tears away from my face with a Kleenex retrieved from a box on his desk.
For some very strange reason, one I had not understood, or even thought about until that moment, my family, that is my entire family had come to my therapy session. It was was a conspiracy, I tell ya. "I'll see you, Alex. Once again, thank you for everything. I'll come back to visit to say hey and for any equipment I will need in the future. I'll be glad to help anyone out, if I can."
With that said, I took off. I stopped at the closed door to the waiting room. I opened it, then walked out into the room, and then just stood there in awe as the hoots and whistles from my family overwhelmed me with gratitude. Peter walked over and pulled me into a total body hug, something I had not experienced before because of those damn crutches. He then pulled me in for a deep kiss, and we did a minor tongue battle looking for each others' tonsils, until Jeremy spoke up and said "Damn, you guys need to get a room!"
We all laughed, left the office and once again had another congratulatory dinner at Peter's favorite restaurant, a trip to the mall, a drive down the coast and then returned home.
Shortly after arrival home, we decided to go swimming in our pool. Peter has always had this momentary look of anguish on his face, and a sadness in his eyes when we went swimming naked with the family, his family, and today was no exception.
As he and I walked up the stairs, yeah I walked using only the banister for balancing support. He looked at me deeply and smiled a small one then the led the way into our bedroom. Strange, but he left the door open this time … usually he closes it, goes to the dresser drawers and pulls out a string bikini swim suit, puts it on and then is ready to go swimming with us.
"Don't say anything, David." He said with a grin.
Although his getting undressed IS a big deal, at least in my eyes it is, this time was different in that when he pulled off his underwear he just stood there after kicking them aside.
I was busy taking my own clothes off, undid the straps and then put my Leg in its rightful place next to my bed as though it was a fixture there. I then reached for my crutches that are necessary to get me here and there when my Leg is not in use. I turned to where I was facing him, and noticed he was still undressed. So I went to the dresser, opened a drawer, reached in and got him a very kewl deep blue string bikini and offered it to him. Instead he said "Come on, the water is getting perfect, let's go."
"What? You never go without these." I said, more in a question rather than a statement.
"Come on, let's go. Last one in the pool is a rotten egg." He said with a twinkle in his eyes.
Of course I lost because when we walked, (he ran) the hall, down the stairs, through the kitchen and then he dove in, returned to the surface and said "You're the rotten egg." He laughed.
"So I am. So I am. Just wait, I'll get you!" I chuckled.
We all played water basketball, went down the slide and had a wonderful time just the four of us.
When we all tuckered out Dad and Jeremy got out and sat down at the pool table while Peter and I just lazed around in the nice warm water. Then we too got out of the water and went to join them, dried off, sat down and used our towels to cover up, not because we were naked but rather to shield our bodies from the hot sun.
One of the health issues here in Hawaii is the high rate of skin cancers, so we do what we can to protect ourselves from the direct sunlight with such things as towels and good sun screen.
After completing our ministrations, I went over to Dad, balanced myself against the table and leaned into him giving him a hug and a kiss on his cheek telling him "I love you. Thanks."
Peter did likewise.
"I'm so very proud of you guys. Both of you have reached milestones, and well I am just so grateful that you have. Both of you have had challenges in your lives and have turned them around to be positive experiences for all of us to see and to share." Dad said.
"What did I graduate from?" Peter asked with his brows raised in an arched, clearly perplexed manner.
"Well, Peter you have made great strides to be a part of this family by just being yourself and not hiding your true beauty within from us. Before today, you took your limitations and differences, that you made up anyway , and came out of your shell to show us yourself unabashedly. That is a huge and monumental step in the right direction. Your being out here hiding nothing is the same or equal to David's first unaided steps without his crutches. Today, you walked away from your own set of crutches, took a risk and succeeded." Dad said.
"What? What did I do?" Peter asked, still perplexed.
"Well, Peter let me just point out that you are not hiding behind a piece of cloth any longer. And that is because you are no longer hiding behind shame where you feel that you're different." Dad said warmly.
"Oh." Peter said looking down at himself then smiled and said "Uhm, yeah. I did'nt even think about that. Today something turned inside of me. David was afraid for so long and hid behind his own cloth so to speak, and today he put that cloth down and is showing his true colors. That is so neat, I'm so glad to be a part of his life, and yours too."
"Exactly, Peter. I am just proud of you boys." Dad said.
"What about me you guys. I am just sitting here minding my own business …" Jeremy said with his eyes full of mischief. He was not being jealous in any way. He was just fucking with us - unsuccessfully by the way.
"And right you are, Jeremy. I am equally proud of you. You have been so supportive of both David and Peter by showing your resilience, support and assistance to bring them to their full potential. Thank you so much for being who you really are, it's really beautiful to see and experience." Dad said, and Peter and I both nodded vigorously. We got up, as one and went over to him and gave him one great big group hug!
"Peter? Boys?" Dad said.
We all turned to him and nodded. "Peter, I received a phone call from the prosecutor's office this morning regarding you mothers' charges and criminal proceedings that were to begin next week. The prosecutor told me that they were presented with a plea deal from the defendant, your mother, through her attorney, that they are considering to be fair and equitable, and recommend your acceptance, but only if you wish to. You are under no duress to accept them because the decision is solely yours."
Peter looked up directly in dad's eyes and said "I've thought about going to court, Dad, a lot. Every time I thought about it, the idea of going to court and facing her again made me physically sick to my stomach. That is my old life. I'd like to hear what the prosecutor is thinking about."
Dad replied "Okay. The terms are: number one she is charged with attempted first degree murder. This will be reduced to premeditated first degree assault with intent to cause grievous injury. Number two, assault in the first degree that result in grievous injury to a minor child, and third, child endangerment in the first degree."
"How long will she spend in jail?"
"The prosecutor is recommending 12 years behind bars without the possibility of parole and no time for good behavior. She would not be released prior to your being an adult in other words." Dad said.
"Okay, so I would be 26 years old. I would be old enough to kick her ass if she tried to do anything then."
Dad looked Peter directly in the eyes and said "Peter, I hope it never comes to the point where you would have to resort to violence in any situation in your life, but yes, you would be an adult and could take any action necessary to defend your life and the lives of anyone next to you or dependent upon you, or to protect anyone's life if need be."
"David, Jeremy what do you guys think?" Peter asked.
"Do you want to go to trial and have the defendant's lawyer grill you, to put you through the ringer by trying to find you guilty of some crazy shit that would justify your mom's actions?" Jeremy asked.
"Hell no. I didn't do anything wrong… not anything that justifies what she did to me." Peter said forcefully.
"Okay, okay I'm just saying that is what those bastards will try to do to you. That's all." Jeremy said.
"The decision is your to make, Peter. I'll love you and support you no matter what, no matter what decision you make. You know that. I'd hate to see you hurt again. I don't think I could stand to see that happen. Who knows, maybe I would be on trial for ripping her damn throat out!" I spat out, clearly upset.
"I believe he would too, Peter, as would I." Dad said with certainty.
"Me too." Jeremy said with conviction.
"That makes three of us, Peter." I said as he came over to my chaise lounge and sat down.
"You don't have to make the decision right now, don't feel pressured, okay?" Dad said.
"No, I've made my decision; I'll accept the plea agreement. If I can though, I would like to make a statement directly to her saying how she fu--, I mean screwed up, and how it is today and how I REALLY have a family who REALLY loves me just as I am." Peter said.
"That, I am sure, can be arranged. I'll call the prosecutor in the morning telling him that you approve the plea deal, and that you wish to make a statement before she is sentenced to prison."
"Okay. It's a done deal then." Peter said.
"Done. And there is one other small legal issue we have outstanding then." Dad said.
"What's that?" Peter asked concernedly.
"The adoption. Peter, do you still want to go through with it?" Dad mused.
"Oh hella yeah" Peter said with this incredulous look on his face and stance of his body.
"Well, I thought you would say that … soo … we go to court on Monday morning for the hearing where the petition will be finalized."
Hoots, whistles and hurrah's followed by all of us.
"There is one small wrinkle before the adoption can be finalized though." Dad said with a twinkle in his eyes.
"What's that?" Peter asked clearly indignant.
"Two things actually, Peter. The first is that we will have to have a Family Study performed. Ella will come to our home and ask a bunch of questions of each of us, including you so that she can get an understanding of how you 'fit in' to this home, and with us in particular." Dad said.
"And the problem with that is what, Dad?" I asked.
"Uhm … … well, we'll have to be dressed for the occasion." Dad said soberly as a church mouse.
"That's it?" Jeremy asked perplexed.
"Yeah, that's it." Dad chuckled.
"Damn. I just get comfortable being natural around you guys, and now I have to get dressed? Gawd, what a gong getting dressed is to my confidence!" Peter chuckled.
We all cracked up and laughed hysterically.
Dad pulled Peter into a big hug, motioned for Jeremy and I to join in which we did without a whole lot of coercion, do I read none? Yep.
"You'll need to talk to your court appointed attorney. It's just a formality. He'll represent your legal well being and will make known your wishes in a legal sense. It is actually a good thing. Beings that I had no doubt you would approve, I made an appointment with him for tomorrow morning at 9:00am so that you and he could talk together to get the details all ironed out." Dad said.
The rest of the evening was very light hearted and many smiles were shared. It was a very fun evening.
Peter and I decided to call it a night rather early. We were both tired from both the emotional and physical toils that day had brought to us. We said our good nights to the rest of the family then headed up the stairs and into the bathroom where I closed and locked the door. While I washed my face with that anti-zit soap and cream, Peter sat down on the toilet and provided to him relief and added to the sewer system a contribution or two. Once he finished and flushed, I took his spot there and did the same, cleaned up the residue then we got into the shower.
Once the temperature was mutually agreed upon, we washed each other lovingly from the tip of our head to the end of our toes while paying special attention to our maleness and nether regions yet not going over the edge as we had definite plans for 'play time' afterwards, and in the comfort of our own bed.
On the way out of the bathroom, I grabbed the bottle of body lotion because I had plans for it, a plan that I felt sure Peter would appreciate and approve.