After lunch, my aunt, Ben, and I just pretty much hung out in the living room for a while. Switching between shows on the TV. We watched the news a bit for my aunt and then we watched some of Ben’s shows. My aunt insisted that I picked something that I wanted to watch, but I kept declining. I was already leaving so I might as well let them watch the shows that they want to.
Around dinnertime was when my aunt and I decided we would tell Ben. We went into the kitchen while she began to make dinner to talk about how we wanted to tell him while he was still in the living room watching those shows that he was just mesmerized by. When we finally had what we were going to say together, my aunt stopped her cooking for the time being and we went into the living. He knew something was up when we had gone in there and turned the TV off before sitting in front of him.
I could hardly hear the words as they were coming out of my mouth. I honestly didn’t even want to hear them at the moment. I watched the once happy yet nervous expression on his face fall into an expression that I never wanted to see him have.
I wasn’t sure what to say next as I just sat back a bit and let my aunt comfort him right now, telling him that everything was going to be okay and maybe soon he would understand why I had to leave. I wasn’t even sure if we were going to thoroughly explain to him why I was leaving.
I was sure he would ask though but we would probably just sum it all up. My guess is when he’s a bit older my aunt will tell him why I really had to move back to England, that is if he even still cares by then.
After about a minute or two Ben had let the news sink in a bit more and he began to relax a bit and was beginning to just have a neutral expression on his face.
“I think I’m just going to leave you two to talk, I have a phone call to need to make,” my aunt said before getting up and heading into her room.
Normally I would be wondering who she was going to call and why now, but I was to focused on the child in front of me to care. I got up from where I was sitting in front of him and moved to sit next to him on the couch. I picked him up and put him in my lap, neither one of us saying anything. I wasn’t even sure what to say to him.
What do you say to a kid that you’re very close to that you’re moving back to a different country?
So for a minute or so I just sat on the couch with my little cousin in my lap, one arm wrapped around him for support to keep him from sliding off.
“Sorry I’m leaving buddy,” I finally said to him, figuring the best thing to do right now was just to apologize.
“Why are you leaving?” he asked me since still no one had really told him.
“It’s complicated,” I told him, hoping that maybe later my aunt could help come up with a way to explain to him why I was leaving because I knew he wasn’t going to give up asking until he got an answer.
“Does it have to do with why you’re skipping practice?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I answered as I readjusted his sitting position on my lap so that I could see him.
His back was now rested against the armrest while his legs were in my lap as he now looked up at me.
“I don’t want you to go,” he told me.
I wish I could tell him that I didn’t want to leave either, but that would be a lie. I did want to go back to England; I just didn’t want to thousands of miles away from the two family members that I’ve grown so close to. People that were once known to me as another Christmas card sent to us once a year and a vague face in a photo album were now so much more to me.
They were my family and for once they felt like they actually were my family instead the little two year old and my aunt who I’d only seen with tears coming from her eyes when we came to her husbands funeral however many years ago.
Remembering that visit made me think of something, I wasn’t sure Ben was going to remember, but it was still worth a shot to say.
“Do you remember when you were about two years old and my parents, sister, and I came to visit for your dad’s funeral?” I asked him.
“Not really. You were there?” he asked me.
“I was,” answered, I didn’t expect him to remember, if I were him I wouldn’t want to remember a day like that even if I was old enough to.
“Well a few days after it we all went to Coney Island in attempt to cheer your mum up. My mum really wanted to take you on the carousel, but after seeing that it was a ride the spun around, you didn’t want to go on it. My mum picked you up and told you to be brave and that you could do this and everything would be okay. I knew at the time it was probably directed more towards my aunt, but it worked on you. So my sister and I took you on the carousel and you chose the tiger. The whole time you were laughing and smiling and having a great time. It was the first time we’d seen your mum have a genuine smile on her face since the funeral had happened,” I had gotten slightly off track from the point I was trying to make, but I saw a smile on Ben’s face as I had told him this forgotten childhood memory.
“So what does this have to do with you leaving?” he asked me.
“I want you to remember what my mum said to you. To be brave, everything will be okay. I know you don’t want me to leave, and I don’t want to leave my favorite cousin ever, but I need to and everything will be okay,” I told him.
“Will you visit?” Ben asked me after a few a few moments passed.
“Of course,” I told him, “Whenever I can I will be on the first flight here, okay?”
Ben smiled and then I smiled. I picked him up off my lap and set him down next to me, and we watched TV until my aunt finally came back from whatever phone call that she had to make and went back into the kitchen to finish up dinner.
I contemplated maybe going in there, but then again I wanted to stay in the living room with Ben. I wanted to talk to my aunt about what I should tell Ben as an explanation as to why I was leaving. I knew Ben only asked me once, but I still wanted to give him an answer. I had been in the living room watching TV with Ben pretty much all say, but I decided that I was going to continue with that. I could talk to my aunt tomorrow morning before Ben wakes up.
So I continued watching what Ben wanted to see on the TV screen until my aunt came in and told us that dinner was ready. My aunt decided that we would eat at the table tonight instead of at the kitchen island like we usually did.
When the three of us sat down, my aunt made a beginning effort to stray away from the topic that was on everyone’s minds right now as she began a conversation. She started with just asking us what we wanted for dinner this week because she was going to go to the grocery store tomorrow.
We took the conversation off from there, moving to different topics as we went on, and I think we all forgot for awhile that I was going to be leaving soon.