Principal's office. Or actually it's not my son...it's me. That's just how I picture myself in my minds eye when I think back to when I was his age. I am struggling with a large winter coat. I lay it on the floor upside down. Thrust my arms into the sleeves and flip it over my head. I pull on my hat. At first covering my eyes and then giggling...push it back upward.
It's the middle of the school day. While I am aware that it is highly unusual for the teacher to have taken me out of class and told me to bring my coat, my young mind has not yet been poisoned by fear of the unexpected.
The Principal's office is drab. Old stained linoleum on the floor and off gray popcorn ceiling. I have a pair of gloves which are tied together by a string and looped through my coat sleeves. I pull them on and hop around the room on one foot making monkey sounds. The secretary raises an eyebrow but remains quiet.
I am expecting my mom to come through the door at any moment but instead her best friend enters briskly. She barely notices me and walks to the secretary's desk. The secretary nods gently in my direction. The friend walks over and grabs my hand....come on honey, we have to go.
I agree willingly but now even in my seven year old brain I know something is wrong.
As we walk out the front door of the school the wind hits my face. It's a cold winter day and I have to concentrate on the steps to avoid slipping on the ice. I stop and look up into my mom's friends face. Where's my mom?
She pauses, takes a deep breath, and then responds coldly...at the hospital. Then a single tear drops down from her eye onto her cheek. Only my adult mind understands the look of pity on her face as she prepares to tell me, a little boy, that my life will never be the same.
Something has happened to your father.