Doris woke up, immediately shut her eyes again, and heaved a heavy, weary sigh. Today was not going to be a good day. Most weren’t, but today especially.
She sat up slowly, making sure not to move the bed too much so that mister over there, who was snoring as usual, wouldn’t wake up. She needed to make a clean getaway. But she couldn’t leave without first…
Slowly, she opened the drawer in her bedside cabinet, took out the framed picture of her two babies, pressed her lips tenderly to the glass and then put it back in the drawer. Bill didn’t like seeing her do that, he’d get angry. Or maybe it was the crying that upset him. She’d usually shed a tear or two when she did that, even a whole tissue’s worth on their birthdays. Sigh.
Twenty minutes later, she was dressed and sneaking out the door and semi-running to the bus stop. Her knees weren’t what they used to be, but she’d just have to ignore the pain and be quick if she wanted to make it back in time for brunch. She had on her jogging suit and walking shoes so she could say she went for a walk, which wouldn’t be a complete lie.
But she wasn’t going for a quick walk around the block, she was going to see her kids. She’d been good. She hadn’t been to see them in over a month. But come on, a mother should be with her children on Mother’s Day, shouldn’t she?! She couldn’t understand why he was so angry at them and at her for wanting to see them. It wasn’t their fault, after all, it wasn’t anyone’s. These things just happen. Life can be unfair. Downright dirty sometimes.
She reached the bus stop just in time to catch the bus. Plenty of seats to choose from on an early Sunday morning, so she took one in the back. She heaved another sigh, this time of relief. She closed her eyes and smiled, when suddenly she felt a tap on her back and a whisper in her ear. “Well hello there neighbour. Where are you sneaking off to this lovely Sunday morning?”
Oh fudge, Nancy! Calm down, just tell the truth. She doesn’t talk to Bill, nobody talks to Bill, the grumpy old fart. He won’t find out. Not from her.
She turned slightly so she could see her neighbour: “I’m going to see my kids.”
“Oh, I didn’t know you had kids.”
“Yes, a girl and a boy. I’m going to visit them. Where are you off to?” Smoothe change of subject, Doris.
“We are off to grandma’s house. Got a basket full of goodies and everything”
“Me and little Red Riding Hood here.” Nancy peeled back the top of the pouch she had tied around her chest to reveal a baby girl, who couldn’t have been more than two months old. A sharp pain went through Doris’ heart. She’d forgotten Nancy had had a baby recently, that’s how caught up she was in her own little world. The little girl had a beautiful head of curly, dark brown hair, just like her daughter had had when she was born.
“Oh wow,” Doris said, hoping Nancy couldn’t hear her voice crack with emotion. “She’s growing so fast. Aaaw, she’s simply precious.” Cover her up please, I can’t bear to look at her cute little face.
As if Nancy read her mind, she covered the baby. The little girl would continue to sleep peacefully, so long as she could hear her mother’s heartbeat. The pain in Doris’ heart instantly subsided. It never completely went away, though, not really.
“Isn’t she?!” chuckled Nancy. “My grandmother practically raised me”, she rattled on, “so every Mother’s Day I make sure to stop by and pamper her a bit. She’s getting older and starting to look it. Don’t know how much longer she’ll be with us. How about you, do you have grandkids? How old are your kids?”
Doris was conflicted. On the one hand, she didn’t want to tell a lie, which she’d have to remember. On the other hand, she didn’t want to explain where she was really going, not to happy Nancy who gets to hold and cuddle her precious baby.
Don’t be jealous Doris. Be happy for her.
She decided the best way to avoid the subject would be to get off a stop earlier and walk the rest of the way.
“No, no grandkids. Hey, I’ve got to get off here. Nice seeing you. Take care of that little angel.”
“Oh, o.k., say hi to Bill for me.”
“Uh, huh. Bye!”
Thanks Nancy, now I really have to walk!
Fifteen minutes later, she reached her destination. Martin, the grounds keeper let her in early. She knew he had a weakness for chocolate chip cookies, and that was the price for early admission. She quickly walked over to the plot where the two headstones were located. Her baby girl, Carmen, had lived just 4 months: SIDS. Two years later James was born in 1975. He helped to somewhat fill the void left by Carmen’s death and had grown up to be a successful, respected, kind man. He and his longtime girlfriend had even talked about settling down. And then…drunk driver. The end.
She sat there and cried for a while mixing tears of grief and joy as she skimmed through the painful and fond memories in her mind. No parent should have to outlive their children.
“Goodbye babies. Goodbye.”
For all the mothers who don’t have a happy Mother’s Day❤