Niles knew he should stop watching the news. But he couldn't seem to turn it off. There was a pandemic all across the country. The CDC had issued guidelines for people to stay home as much as possible and to wash their hands regularly. Of course, this did not help Niles' natural anxiety and germphobia. Daphne did what she could to keep him in check, but even she was no match for a highly infectious virus.
"Are you still watching that bloody newscast?" Daphne asked when walked into the living room.
"No," Niles said immediately, turning off the TV. He sighed as she gave him a look. A moment later, he reached into his pocket for a handkerchief. "All right, I was," he finally admitted. "They keep saying cases are on the rise and it looks like it's going to stay that way."
"I know," Daphne said. "That's what the paper said too."
"My phone has been going crazy lately," Niles said, taking it out. Even now, a text was popping up. "You can imagine what this is doing to my patients."
Daphne sat beside him, taking his hand and giving it a comforting squeeze. "You could try talking to your patients online," she suggested. "Roz has been having meetings at the station that way. She can probably help you set it up."
"OK," Niles agreed. He felt a measure of relief. "But what's really worrying me is David's birthday party. He's only going to turn eight once."
"I know," Daphne admitted. "Some of the other mums from his class have been calling. They don't feel comfortable coming, and I can't blame them."
"What are we going to do?" Niles asked. He hated the thought of his beloved son not getting a party. He'd been looking forward to it for weeks.
"I've been thinking about that. We don't have to cancel the party entirely. We just postpone it for whenever all of this is over. It can't last forever."
Niles couldn't resist kissing her. He loved her optimism. "But you know he'll be disappointed. It won't be the same."
Daphne smiled. Niles was sounding more and more like their son. She kissed his cheek to make him smile. "It's a bit against the rules, but we could still have a party for him. Just us. And your father and Ronee. David adores Martin, so I think he'd be happy with that."
Niles considered her suggestion. He knew she was right about the bond between David and his grandfather. "OK, let's go break the news to him." With a sigh, he stood. Daphne followed, and the two made their way to their son's room.
Daphne knocked on the door. She could hear faint sounds of a video game. "David, can we come in? Your father and I have to talk to you about something."
David paused his game. "OK."
Daphne entered the room and took a seat on his bed. Niles sat beside her. "We have to talk to you about your birthday party."
"What about it?"
Niles took a deep breath. "Well, you must've heard about the pandemic on the news by now."
David nodded. "Yeah. Kids are saying school might be canceled." He couldn't resist punching the air in a "Yeah!" motion.
"Yes," Daphne said. "They probably will do that. But you'll have to do your schoolwork on the computer. It won't be a vacation."
"Oh." There was no mistaking his disappointment.
"And there's the matter of your birthday party," Daphne said. "It's really not safe to be around too many people right now. A lot of your friends' parents are worried."
"So, what does that mean? No party?!"
"You'll still get to have a party with your friends, once this is over."
Once again, the disappoint on David's face was obvious.
Daphne's heart broke to see her son so upset. "But your father and I were talking, and we think it would be OK to have a small party for you now. Just us…..and Grandpa and Ronee."
For a moment, David was quiet. He'd really been looking forward to eating cake and playing with his friends. But he did love his grandfather. He even liked Ronee, even though she was always quick to point out that she wasn't his real grandmother. "OK, I guess I can live with that," he finally said.
Daphne let out a sigh of relief. "We promise, we'll make it up to you as soon as we can." She hugged David tightly. She and Niles left his room, allowing him to return to his game.
When they were in the hall, Niles turned to his wife. "Well, that wasn't so bad. Now we just have to tell Dad."
Daphne nodded. In some ways, Martin was almost as much a child as his grandson. She hoped he would handle this as maturely as David had.