Sometimes I can stare at a clock until its face becomes a face. I think I’ll stare at this clock until I grow old. I want my son. He’s so young, and I’m so scared for him. I can’t talk to him about it, though – or to Charles.

Charles is a good man and good husband, and father. He has stood by me and the kids all these years like no man could, but I miss him from before he found out. Now there is a hollow in his eyes that just runs deeper and deeper no matter how much I love him and love on him. Oh, I do love him, and I know he loves Alex; he just won’t show it.

I want my son here, just like he does. We used to have great moments at Christmas when the boys and Jen lived here. Charles says those are only memories. That’s true, but right now they’re something to build on. I think today is going to be a good day. My son, Mike, is anxious to open presents. I think he wants to avoid his diseased brother just like his father.

“Mom! Come on in here. We’re going to go ahead and open one.”

“No you’re not, Mike! You’re not opening a gift until your brother walks through that door.”

“Now, honey. The children can open a gift if they want.”

“No, they can’t, and they better not!”

I know Mike and Jen have just cringed. I’m stubborn about my kids. So what?

“I’ll bet he’s cold out there right now, my son. It’s so cold inside here. I can feel my toes are as hard as they are brittle, even in my socks. I’ll bet he’s cold. My poor baby. This might be the last one and I’m so afraid he’ll miss it with me.”

“Norma, get in here, hon! It’s Christmas.”

Mike has taken two gifts from under the tree marked for Mike and Jen. They’ve unwrapped their gifts with me in the other room. They knew their gifts wouldn’t be as big or as nice as Alex’s gift, because he’s my favorite. Always has been. My baby. He got something much bigger a few years back.