Heath and his two boys snuggled up closely to view the sunrise. Summer was coming to a close and there was a slight but persistent chill in the air. Nevertheless, the dawn of a new day never lost its wonder for Heath and his boys as they sat expectantly for it to appear.
Thinking..... Heath had been doing a lot of that lately. Usually, mornings didn't allow much time for reflection but he was making up for it now. It was his 27th birthday. Another birthday! Nothing special in that he thought. But today seemed different somehow and he couldn't quite explain why.
He was thinking again.... his thoughts drifting back over the last few years. It had been six years since he had come to live with the Barkleys. He felt so loved by his family now that it was difficult to believe it had only be a few short years.
An angry and hurt young man when he had arrived he soon grew to love and be loved by his new found family. He smiled as he remembered how their eyes would often rest on him when they thought he hadn't noticed. It was something that he never fully understood until he found himself doing the same thing with his own sons. He knew then that it was an unconscious sign of their love and he cherished and accepted it gratefully and gave it back fully in return.
His boys had fallen asleep in his lap. They so resembled him in looks that he wistfully regretted that neither had favored their mother. He needn't have worried though. He could feel her presence in them every day and his heart swelled with pride at the memories it gave him.
His twin sons shared his birthday and later today they would be enjoying their 5th birthday party with all their typical enthusiasm. But for the moment he wanted to enjoy their quiet time together and the rare chance to be a family of their own.
Heath's own childhood had determined that he would be a good father and he was. A year after finding his own family he had met and married his wife, Cate. She was a rare find. His mother, Victoria, recognized it immediately and encouraged the match wholeheartedly. Whilst others questioned their youth and sought to get them to wait she knew that Heath would be suited to an early marriage and that in Cate he'd found a life partner who loved and respected him implicitly.
Before the year was out they were overjoyed at becoming parents to twin boys, Sean and Thomas. Their lives were set for future joys and celebrations.
Heath's thoughts broke off temporarily as he felt his son Thomas snuggle in closer. He pulled up the quilt covering him and placed a protective arm around his shoulder to comfort him. Thomas settled immediately.
Heath loved his wife deeply. Her death had come so unexpectedly and he felt her loss palpably. Familiar voices had tried to comfort him by telling him that it would get easier with time. It hadn't.
Gradually though he had recently been able to break through the painful memories and remember the happy times they had shared. He sighed, missing her presence, missing her touch. Something died in him the day she left his life for good. He wiped a tear away from his eye not wishing the boys to wake and see him upset.
27 years he thought. They had been full and active years, tinged with sadness and happiness. Experiencing the former had sharpened his appreciation of the latter and for all his private pain he felt blessed because of what he had received.
He had known the love of two mothers, both equally dear to his heart, and the sibling love of his brothers and sister - bonds that would never be broken. He had loved and been loved by his dear wife and now cherished their children as a testament to that love. Yes he had been blessed and he would remain forever grateful for that.
Feeling renewed he felt the embrace of the new day more keenly today than any other day previously. He stroked the heads of his sleeping sons and drew strength from their presence and their love. He turned towards the crying form being carried towards him by his mother. His sons stirred at the familiar sound of their baby sister and their sudden remembrance of the special day they both shared with their father. Yawning and leaning up to their father to kiss him they both said sleepily but with transparent love "Happy Birthday papa."
"Happy Birthday sons," he said kissing them tenderly in return.
Victoria witnessing this tender scene, placed baby Cate in her father's arms. As she expected her granddaughter's crying ceased immediately. Cate had got what she wanted and was quietly resting in her father's arms.
"Come on birthday boys," Victoria said to her beloved son and grandsons. "We've a party to host and we can't do that without our special guests of honor".
To be continued in