He pulled up at his parents’ house around 9 on Sunday morning. He knew the coffee pot would have just shut off after two hours of being on, and his mom would have just turned it back on to keep it warm a little longer.
His parents liked to linger in bed on Sundays, reading the paper and drinking their coffee. He longed to linger in their unhurried approach to the day.
He was stopping by because a big decision weighed heavily on him, and he was hoping they could lighten the load. He helped himself to some of the remaining coffee as they joined him at the kitchen table. His folks knew why he was there, but they didn’t press him. They talked about the weather and some of their ailments as they aged.
Had he heard about his high school’s robotics team and how they were doing this year? They knew how much he enjoyed being on the team during his high school career.
They talked about the news a little and asked him what he’d been reading lately. When the small talk seemed about as done as the coffee, they decided to take a walk together with the dog, just like old times. The old boy was slowing down, but seemed to keep pace with his parents just fine, maybe because they were slowing down a little too.
They walked in silence for a while, enjoying the crisp fall air and the colorful leaves. He wanted to ask them what he should do about this big decision of his, but there was something about the rhythm of their steps together, something about the feel of the dog’s leash in his hand where it had rested so many times, something about the sight of his parents’ hands comfortably clasped together with well-worn grooves where they had come together so often, that all gave him pause.
He looked at his parents and smiled, and they responded with loving nods of affirmation, and in that moment he realized that the weight of trying to figure out what he should do had lessened. It wasn’t gone, but he remembered that whatever he did, he wouldn’t be alone.
And then it struck him that underneath the big decision he had to come to terms with, were some more basic questions, like “Do you love me?” and “Are you with me?” His parents’ eyes said it all:
“Of course. Always.”
They rounded the bend toward home and his parents asked if he could stay for lunch. “Of course,” he said, “always.”