“Mom?” Seth’s voice was soft and sheepish as a familiar regret bubbled up from the surface. A regret he that he felt anytime that he talked to his Mother. “How is he?” It was always the first question asked. Although the hidden context was more ‘Is he dead yet.’ Both parties were waiting for the inevitable at this point. It wasn’t if but when. “Not well Seth.” She said in a low voice. His heart sank at the answer. It’s not that he believed that he could get better but deep down he hoped this phone call would prove to be a good one, just as he hoped for every phone call. “Seth you need to come home. He doesn’t have much time and he asks about you all the time. He misses you son. Do you really want miss out on spending time with him? He doesn’t have long now-”
“That what you’ve been saying.” Seth retorted. He was sick of hearing it, sick of the hurt he felt every time she mentioned is short amount of time left on this earth. “I’m saying it because it’s true sweetie.” She said sadly. Her voice showed just how worn out she was by the whole ordeal. It was taking every ounce of strength she possessed to keep on going the way she was. It killed him to hear her like that. He should have been there for her, but he couldn’t. He was a coward that couldn’t deal with the pain of watching his Father slowly wither away. He wished he could rewind time, go back when his Dad was well. It wouldn’t have changed things though. Nothing would change things.
“I can’t leave Mom, not right now. I have school and friends and I think…” He paused. He was about to tell her about Ephraim, that he might have met something but now didn’t seem like the right time. He wasn’t sure if they were anything at this point. “I just can’t right now.” He finished lamely. “So talk to him.” She said softly.
Seth paused. Talk to him? They haven’t talked since he ran off to New Mexico. The thought brought chills to his spine. Talk to him? Could he? He found himself agreeing with the idea despite actually coming to a conclusion and his Mother told him to hold on. He waited with bated breath to her the voice of his hero, the man he would be losing sooner rather then later. Sons are meant to outlive their parents but not like this. The injustice of it all made Seth’s blood boil.
“Seth.” His thought of anger were instantly stifled as soon as heard his Fathers voice. It was weaker then he remembered. Weaker then he ever thought possible. “Dad.” Seth said softly in reply, his voice already choking up. He had to stay strong for him though, he just had to. He swallowed the lump in his throat and tried again. “How a…re y…you doing?” He asked. “I’m hanging in their son. Not dead yet so I really can’t complain. Although if I was dead I wouldn’t complain either.” He laughed as if what he said was funny. “How school?” He asked. “It’s going really well actually. I’m getting really good grades, you would be proud. Some of them are difficult but I really do work my butt off. It’s a great school Dad, you would approve. I mean Colorado probably has better ones but I needed to get away…”
He trailed off, realizing what he had said. “Not because of you.” He added hastily. His Father sighed. “I don’t blame you son. If I were you I would have done the same. It’s hard watching a love one die. When your Aunt passed I was a mess. This was before you were born and actually I was about your age. I remember regretting not saying goodbye but I just couldn’t. Sometimes it’s easier to just get away. I’m not angry at you Seth, I understand. I wish you were here but now is the time to start your own life.”
“Dad you can’t die.” Seth said in reply the tears he had been holding back finally breaking through. “You just can’t!” Tears poured out of his eyes as he finally allowed himself to really feel the grief. It was easy to pretend that none of this was real at school but talking to his Father he couldn’t pretend anymore.
There was a pause as his Father allowed him to cry. As soon as it subsided he spoke again. “The fact is that people die Seth. Sometimes it’s people who you care about and sometimes it’s complete strangers. But the fact of the matter is that everyone dies eventually. It’s something that we must all accept. I have accepted that I’m not going to be here for much longer and you’re Mother is coming around to the idea. Life is for the living Seth. You shouldn’t mourn those who have died but those who have never truly lived.” Seth smiled because the speech was distinctly Dumbledore. He remembered his Dad reading him all the books when he was a small boy. With all the extra free time he probably revisited the series. “My fight is done Seth. I’m nearly finished, but yours is just beginning. I want you to promise me that no matter what you will never stop living. Even when things seem impossible. Will you promise me that?”
Seth didn’t answer at first. He knew if he did that the tears would start falling again. He waited until the feeling subsided before answering. “I will.” He promised. “I’ll see you soon Dad.” He said even though he knew that this could be the last time he ever talked to his Father. “I love you.”