"We thought we were teaching Charles to be a child, how to just be a kid, how to grow up, how to go through school, achieve certain things in life," Tremica says.
Charles ended up being their teacher.
Forest's arms wrap around Charles in the hydrotherapy pool. Dad closes his eyes to cherish the moment, to release months of agony held inside. "You're with me now," he whispers.
He wasn't there the day Charles was born. But he wants his son to know his father is with him to the end.
"I felt something in that water," Forest says later. "I don't think I've ever felt somebody's energy like that."
Charles died three days later, on Friday, January 14, 2011 -- 19 days after he entered George Mark. It was supposed to be family picture day. Trayshaun walked down the hall to fetch Charles' favorite shirt, a tuxedo T-shirt he purchased on a family trip to downtown San Francisco, and returned to the room just in time.
Charles took three deep breaths. Mom, Dad and Trayshaun stood at his bedside.
A week after his death, more than 50 friends and relatives crowded the chapel for a Celebration of Life service.
Charles' aunt, Janice Mays, read a message she imagined Charles might've written:
I won the battle. I am in heaven now. That ole cancer has no way to cause me any more pain or discomfort, nor does it live within me. So, to my family and friends, thank you for being a part of my life and loving me in your own special way.
On a television screen, an image of a vibrant Charles appeared. It was the video from the trip to Los Angeles. The family beamed as they listened, one more time, to Charles croon.
More than a year after his death, photographs of Charles adorn the house he called home the last three years of his life. The sheets are tucked in tightly on his bed, his favorite stuffed animals sitting where Charles once slept. "I always keep it nice, because that's exactly the way he would want it," says Nate. He has moved into the room with Trayshaun and sleeps on a third bed.
Many nights, Forest awakens with tears in his eyes. Charles performs Madea skits in his dreams. Other times, they're on vacation in Los Angeles. Charles dances and sings.
"It's like the loss just happened," he says. "Just not having Charles here with us, not being able to see him grow up into a man, to go out on his own ..."
Tremica keeps Charles' rosary on display in the master bedroom. When the pain of losing him overcomes her, she holds the cross.
"No one should be ashamed to lose a child. It's not by choice. It's something that happens, and it shouldn't be secretive and something nobody talks about.
"I accepted something I couldn't change and tried to find the good in it. I got to be a part of a courageous, strong, special child, and I'm proud to have been his mom."
Forest thinks of the phone call that brought Charles into their life. "I'm glad I was chosen," he says. "It always takes something greater than ourselves to make us change."
Change comes in many forms, often when one least expects it.
The feet of a 2-year-old patter across the floor; her squeals bring smiles to Forest and Tremica. Again, the couple was asked by a relative to raise a child; how could they say no?
Forest and Tremica hope to adopt their little girl soon. Already, she's family, another child with a second chance.