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Parental Deception; chapter nine, part two

They had the funeral a week later, and it was attended by hundreds of people. Several of them spoke up, giving loving eulogies of Henry. Many of them were gay men that he had met through the San Francisco’s Gay Men’s Chorus, and they sang, “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” by Boyz II Men, which was one of Henry’s favorite groups. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when they were done. George soaked up all the stories, and after the funeral was over, he was found huddled with a handful of Henry’s closest friends, trading stories. Rowena had a hard time getting him to leave, and he was in deep thought all the way home.

Once he was able to examine Henry’s assets, he spent hours poring over everything he found in Henry’s house. The furniture, all of which Henry made, his computer, though there wasn’t much on it. Henry wasn’t a big email person and preferred to talk on the phone. George found a cache of letters, and that’s when the idea to impersonate Henry sprung into his mind. The letters were the fifty or so that Henry had written to Jasmine, Viv, and me, once a week for a year after he left. Every one of them was returned unopened with the words, “Return to Sender” written on the top of the envelope. George opened them and read each one. Several times. There was also a journal written in Henry’s hand, and it was filled with reminiscing from his time with his family. George read the journal entries  several times as well, especially the passages that had memories of Henry’s three daughters.

“George, it’s late,” Rowena said at midnight. George had brought all the paper paraphernalia from Henry’s house home, and he was reading through them once again. “Come to bed.”

“In a minute, Ro,” George said distractedly, his eyes on the journal. He was thumbing through it again, and he had a pencil in his hand. She could tell that he’d been marking the journal with his pencil, but she didn’t know why.

“What’re you doing, George?” Ro asked, peering over his shoulder.

“Nothing!” George snapped, covering the journal with his free hand.

“George!” Rowena said, placing her hands on her hips. “Do not talk to me in that tone.”

“Sorry, sorry,” George said, his voice softening. “I just….” He hesitated. He uncovered the journal and pushed it toward Rowena. She took it, her brow furrowed. Even when she read his notes, she didn’t understand what he was doing.

“What’s going on, George? I don’t understand.” She handed the journal back to George, and he held it almost reverently. He laid it carefully on his desk before responding.

“Ro, what’s the one thing I’ve regretted in my life?” George asked, looking hard at Rowena.

“Not moving back to Taiwan,” Rowena said promptly.

“What? No! I love our life in San Francisco.” George was startled by Rowena’s response. “No, it’s not having children.” Rowena’s face fell, and she instinctively tightened her shoulders.

“You gonna blame me for that again?” Her voice was weary as it’s an argument they’d had a million times before.

“No! I’m not. Really.” George patted Rowena’s hand, and she relaxed her shoulders in response. “But it’s what I’ve missed the most in my life.” He took a deep breath and added, “I’m going to meet Henry’s children. As him.”

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