Jayden faces a serious talk with his parents.
|Jayden looked warily at his parents, wondering what he’d done wrong this time. It seemed like he was always doing something wrong these days. He glanced at his father’s face and saw a stern seriousness in his eyes. His mother looked calm and determined. The chances of it being good news seemed pretty slim.
“Sit down, son. Your mum and I would like to talk to you.” Nope, definitely not good news. Might as well get it over and done with.
Jayden plonked himself down on the couch in the lounge and plucked aimlessly at a loose thread on his trousers. He tried not to look up and meet his parents’ gaze.
“Jayden, look at me.” Jayden heaved a sigh and looked up. He hated being in trouble, but lately it felt like he just couldn’t help it. What use was it anyway if he was going to die soon? If he had cancer, then he was going to lose everything anyway, wasn’t he? His mum, his dad, his sister. His cat Smudgie.
“We’re worried about you, Jayden.” This didn’t sound like the ‘You’re in trouble’ lecture he was used to. “You’ve started wetting the bed again. You’re talking back to us. You’re not trying at school. Something’s wrong.” His mum looked worried now. He didn’t like that she was worried. She was right though, of course something was wrong. Getting cancer and dying was pretty wrong, wasn’t it?
“Jayden?” He looked up again. It was his mum’s turn to sigh this time. “Jayden, I hope you know you can tell us anything. Both of us. Either of us. Are you being bullied at school? Is that it?” Jayden’s eyes widened. They thought that was the problem? If only it was that simple. He did get bullied sometimes, but he could handle that most of the time. He didn’t think he could handle dying though.
“No, I’m not being bullied.” His mum and dad exchanged frowns, his mum shaking her head as if to say that she didn’t understand. “I’ve got cancer!” he blurted out. He held his breath, almost scared to wonder what would happen next. How long had he been holding that inside?
Jayden’s mum laughed a little, then stopped suddenly as she realised he was serious. “What?” she asked, bewildered. “You don’t have cancer. Why would you think you have cancer?” Jayden let out his breath and frowned.
“Well, I… I don’t know. I do. Don’t I? Grumps had cancer, and I think I caught cancer off him. Didn’t I?”
“How long have you thought you had cancer, Jayden? Grumps died months ago.” His dad still looked serious, but not as stern as before. Maybe this was going to be okay. No one was yelling, and he didn’t feel bad like he did when he got in trouble. And actually, it felt good to finally talk to an adult about it.
“Well, I felt bad after Grumps died. I felt sad. And I started thinking that maybe I felt bad because I had cancer. And I figured I must have caught it off him.” Jayden wasn’t sure, but he thought maybe his mum was about to cry. She looked awful sad. Oh no, maybe he DID have cancer?!
“Aw Jayden.” She definitely had tears, he could see them now. She looked at Jayden’s dad and Jayden did too.
“Come here, son.” Jayden was gathered up in a big hug and felt his dad’s arms strong around him. “We all felt bad when Grumps died. We loved him. It’s normal to feel bad when someone you love dies. You miss them. But Grumps was an old man, and he was ready to die. He missed Gran, and he wanted to be with her. But you’re a young boy. And cancer isn’t contagious. You can’t catch cancer from someone else. You don’t have cancer. You’re perfectly healthy.”
Jayden felt a huge sense of relief. He was going to be okay? He didn’t have cancer.
“I wish you’d told us about this ages ago, Jayden.” His mum leaned over and added her arms to the hug that he shared with his dad. “I hate that you’ve been thinking this for months and being scared all on your own. I can’t believe that you thought you had cancer and were going to die, and you didn’t tell us.”
“I didn’t want to get in trouble, or upset you. I don’t know. I didn’t know what to do.”
“Let’s get one thing straight right now. We’re ALWAYS here for you. You can tell us anything. Anything. I don’t want you to ever hide anything from us again, not something like this. I don’t care if it’s bullying or cancer or feeling sad because you miss Grumps, or whatever it is, you can tell us. And if we tell you that we’re too busy or to go away and come back later because we’re tired after work or whatever, you just need to say ‘This is a serious talk, Mum’ or Dad. Okay? Okay?” Jayden nodded his head. “Say it with me. I can talk to Mum and Dad about anything.”
“I can talk to Mum and Dad about anything.”
“I’m not dying and I don’t have cancer.”
Jayden smiled and repeated dutifully “I’m not dying and I don’t have cancer.”
“Right. Now, is there anything else that you want to talk about, or was that the only thing that was bothering you?”
Well, now that she mentioned it… “I was wondering, after Grumps died… What happens when you die?” His parents looked at each other again, then his dad gestured for his mum to take the lead.
“Well, one thing you have to remember is that no one alive has ever died. So it’s hard for us to tell you what happens when someone dies, because we haven’t done it and we don’t know for sure. Different people think different things, and it’s okay to have a different thought about what happens. What I think is that…” Jayden listened carefully as his mother went on. He was glad he had such nice parents. He definitely felt better now.