Real Life

Not my husband’s son

My husband Ted and I have been married for 15 years. We have one son, Lachlan. He’s not Ted’s biological son and for many years, Ted didn’t know the truth. I had never shared my secret with anyone and I’d hoped I would never have to.

Lachlan was diagnosed with acute leukaemia shortly after he turned 10. He was immediately admitted to hospital and remained critically ill for many months. The doctors told us that his best chance of survival was to have a bone marrow transplant as soon as possible.

We needed a compatible donor. As Lachlan’s parents, we were to have our blood tested the following day. If neither of our blood types was compatible, then Lachlan’s relatives would be contacted and his name put on the donor list.

At this stage, I realised it was inevitable that Ted would discover he wasn’t Lachlan’s biological father. I had to tell him the truth that very evening — better he heard it from me than from the doctors the next day.

That night after dinner, I explained to Ted that he was not really Lachlan’s biological father and that I’d had a brief affair with one of my work colleagues, Daniel, during our marriage. Ted turned white with shock. Without a word, he stood up in a daze and walked out into the chilly night.

I waited up for him all night on the sofa in the living room, but he didn’t return. I was beside myself with worry and afraid of what he might do to. To my relief, Ted finally returned the next afternoon.

My relief quickly turned sour when he coldly announced that he had only returned for Lachlan’s sake because he needed him. When Lachlan was well again, he would file for divorce and leave me. From that time on, he refused to have anything to do with me outside of Lachlan’s hospital room and he slept on his own in Lachlan’s bedroom.

My blood type was not compatible so I contacted Lachlan’s biological father, Daniel. He had moved interstate with his wife before Lachlan was born and we had long ago lost contact.

Daniel was astonished to learn I had become pregnant and given birth to his child as a result of our affair. He was sorry to hear about Lachlan’s illness, but steadfastly refused to help. He didn’t want to risk his wife finding out about the affair or about Lachlan.

After many weeks of trying, we were not able to find a compatible donor for Lachlan; we were reduced to simply waiting in the hope that one might eventually turn up.

It was as though all my sins were finally catching up with me; I was being severely punished for my infidelity and stood to lose all that I loved. I had already lost my husband and now I could lose my son!

Lachlan became so ill the doctors said that conventional medical treatment could do no more for him. All we could do was remain positive and do everything in our power to help support him in his fight against the cancer.

Throughout this terrible, terrible time, Ted was simply wonderful to Lachlan. He was loving and funny; an endless source of comfort, hope and strength. Lachlan never suspected that behind Ted’s cheerful facade, he was hiding so much hurt and anger.

Over a year later and against all odds, Lachlan won his fight against cancer and returned home. For a short, precious time, we were once again a family. My joy at having my son safely home was tinged with sadness; now that Lachlan had fully recovered, Ted was free to leave me.

Soon after Lachlan’s return, Ted asked me to have dinner with him at a local restaurant. I was terrified — this was it, Ted was going to tell me tonight that he was leaving.

I was determined to be as calm and as strong as Ted had been for Lachlan for all those months. If Ted wanted to leave, I would let him go with grace. He had already given me so much by helping to bring Lachlan back home.

That evening at the restaurant, a smiling waiter carried an immense bunch of bright, yellow sunflowers to our table.

For Ted and me, sunflowers have always signified forgiveness and a fresh start — the rising of the sun and the dawning of a new beginning.

The waiter placed the sunflowers on the table and then Ted gently took my hand in his. With tears in his eyes, he asked me to please forgive him for his foolish, stubborn pride. He said that it was no longer important to him whether he was Lachlan’s biological father or not. Lachlan’s long illness and recovery had made him realise what really mattered — that we were a very special family and we all belonged together.

Picture posed by models

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