Somethin' in you put a hold on my heart
It's hard to believe now
Here in the place that will never be dark
I remember that place...
That kind of touch, electricity of love
That certain kind of grace
That you love because you become someone else in an instant
One week until the wedding and I still had half of my list to accomplish! I felt over-whelmed and like I was spinning in circles. Not that Adam wasn’t helping; he was and he was a great planner and organizer. I had always believed that I was too until I tried to pull off a wedding in less than a month!
The phone rang and I glanced at it distractedly; it was just one more interruption that I didn’t have time for. Until I saw who was calling that is! It was Pam and I eagerly grabbed the receiver and answered.
“Hi, Mom! Guess what? You’ll never believe it!”
I listened as she giggled joyfully over the phone and I smiled. This had to be about our new family addition and I couldn’t wait to hear about whatever momentous thing he had done. Of course, Daniel was amazing, the most amazing baby ever! Don’t all grandparents feel that way?
“Well, what did he do?” I laughed.
“He smiled at me! He looked right at me and smiled as I gave him a bath this morning. It was amazing,” she repeated.
I laughed outright at the joy of that statement. Considering that only 5 weeks ago he was so small and almost fragile, well, to us it was a miracle. We both agreed that he was the most perfect and intelligent baby ever and I made her promise to try and get him to smile on video so I could see before we hung up the phone. Somehow my day didn’t seem quite as frantic now as before I mused.
I went back to perusing the list in front of me but I couldn’t help but think back over the past month and all that had happened. It brought an instantaneous smile to my face and I laid the pen down and reached for my cup of coffee. I blew on it gently, watching the steam curl upwards; I inhaled the heavenly aroma and sighed.
Those first few weeks in El Paso after Daniel had been born were a almost jumbled blur. Daniel did very well; better than anyone including the doctors would have guessed. I thought back to the first time I held him; I remembered touching his tiny hands and face, feeling the downy fine hair on his head, a head that was only the size of a baseball. I sat in a rocking chair next to his isolette and held him next to me, breathing in his baby sighs and stroking his soft skin. The joy I felt at having his tiny body laying against mine made me catch my breath. I sat and rocked him, cradling him and felt his little heart beating against mine; never would I be the same again I knew.
Yes, he was tiny and seemed so delicate, but we quickly learned that he wasn’t quite as fragile as he looked. He squirmed and wiggled constantly when he didn’t like something and had a very healthy pair of lungs that showed his displeasure at having a diaper changed. By the 3rd day the steroids had worked their magic and he no longer ‘pulled’ when he breathed; only a little when he would cry and catch his breath. And he ate, really well in fact and gained weight quickly.
Lissa was enchanted by him and I watched her carefully for any signs of concern for him but there were none. She was my constant barometer those first few days and I was thankful she was there with us. It amazed me how easily she handled him, seeming very comfortable with all the monitors and tubes; it was the doctor in her I guessed. She would bend over his isolette and talk to him and croon soft songs as she gently stroked his back. He would stretch out like a cat and sigh as if absorbing all the love she was sending to him.
“I still can’t believe you had such a beautiful baby Grover; it has to be Pam’s genes!” she would tease Derek.
Derek would smile his lop-sided grin at her and nod; Daniel was still a wonder to him; to all of us really. Despite the fear and worry over his early delivery he was doing wonderfully. By the time Lissa went back to school he had gained 6 ounces!
Pam went home from the hospital on the 4th day, but only reluctantly. Both she and Derek spent as much time at the hospital as possible, which left Adam and I free time to try and get the nursery organized for them. It was a labor of love for us; it didn’t hurt that it was fun as well! They needed so much for Daniel as well as the room and so we went shopping and took pictures of furniture and layettes so that Pam and Derek could have an idea what they would like.
Since the kids lived in post housing we couldn’t paint the nursery so we decided on brightly colored cut-outs to decorate the walls. After consulting the experts, Tristan and Geoff we decided on an ‘Up’ theme, with lots of balloons and the animals from the movie. The boys assured us that Daniel would love it. Adam and I couldn’t help but grin when they told us their choice; it was bright and colorful and we had seen a crib that had balloons on it. Derek and Pam loved the idea, so operation ‘Up’ commenced.
Mom and Dad stayed for a week with us and we enjoyed every moment. Adam became really familiar with Pam’s kitchen and I teased him about ‘rearranging’ it, but he only shrugged with impudence and told me he would keep me wondering about it. In the end I don’t think he did anything which showed remarkable restraint on his part I might add!
Watching Mom and Dad with Daniel was very touching. For me he was a marvel – literally a miracle to behold. I couldn’t see him, touch him, love him enough. I was a grandmother and loving every minute of it; Adam seemed equally happy to be ‘Poppy’ his new nickname. Mom and Dad had been through all this before, with Derek and Lissa but you would never have known it. Maybe it was because they were all grown up and on their own or maybe it’s just that a new life in a family inspires us; makes you look at your priorities and values, I don’t know. But watching them brought tears to my eyes; both of them were so tender and loving, delighting over every little movement and sigh that Daniel made. Daniel was the future, our family’s future and Mom and Dad were almost in awe of that.
I know Pam was thrilled that we were all here but I had to wonder how she really felt about her home being invaded by Adam and Mom specifically. Mom, never being one to handle being idle was moving furniture around and cleaning, washing walls, etc. Not that the house was dirty by any means, but it was a coping mechanism for her, something to pass the time when we weren’t all adoring Daniel that is. Together Dad and Adam decided on a practical pursuit; they bought a freezer for the kids and Adam set to filling it with meals for the kids, probably enough to last a month. My dad helped out, barbequing meats and wrapping them to freeze, while Adam concentrated on side dishes and casseroles. It was nice seeing them work together and it relieved me to know that Pam wouldn’t be too over-whelmed with mundane tasks for awhile.
While everyone else was organizing at home I decided to start buying the basic supplies for the baby like the can’s of high calorie formula he needed as well as diapers, wipes, bibs, and…well, everything. I think I had the most fun of everyone; just buying these basic necessities for Daniel made it all seem so much more real for me. We all enjoyed our tasks truthfully though and so by the time Pam was ready to come home the house was ready!
Pam’s first night home was a quiet one for all of us. Mom, Dad, Adam and I wanted to let Derek and Pam have that night together but Pam teared up when she heard that; not because she wasn’t thankful for some alone time with Derek but because she wanted us all together. So together we stayed. We ordered pizza and Adam bought a really nice bottle of champagne (I know, doesn’t quite go with pizza! I couldn’t bring myself to take more than a couple of sips) and we celebrated Pam’s homecoming and Daniel’s birth and just life in general. She was amazed at all that had been done while she was in the hospital and we all grinned as she looked at her new fully-stocked freezer, sparkling walls and shelves of baby necessities.
Adam had also done one other thing that he does very well; he ordered half of a greenhouse worth of roses for Pam and their lovely scent filled the house when she walked in. Roses of every hue imaginable adorned tables and shelves and she cried when she saw them. Of course she knew exactly who had ordered them; she had heard the stories I had told about him and when she thanked him with a hug and a kiss on the cheek he blushed and tried to play it off as no big deal. He truly doesn’t understand how these thoughtful gestures make someone feel; cherished and cared for. She was happy and so were we.
By 9:00 Pam was nodding off and we all left to head back to the hotel. Mom and Dad were leaving in two days so tomorrow would be spent just relaxing after the past few days of frenzy. The evening before they left we were all going to dinner at a place Dad had heard of called Cattleman’s Steakhouse in Fabens, Texas. Derek in particular was looking forward to going to the restaurant; they served 2 pound steaks!
“You don’t seriously think you are going to be able to eat that much steak do you?” I asked, slightly sickened at the thought. I frowned as I looked at him; he was grinning from ear to ear. I thought I heard Adam stifle a snicker.
Derek looked at me and shrugged. “Just watch me!”
Adam spoke us and added, “Yes, it sounds good. Count me in Derek!”
My mouth flew open; I sputtered, I didn’t even know what to say. Next thing I knew my dad was tossing in his thoughts as well.
“I’ve heard it’s the best steak in Texas. May have to give it a try myself!”
This floored me. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing; all three of them? What, this was unbelievable, how much steak did they need for heaven’s sake? I sat there, shaking my head and feeling slightly sick at the thought. I mean, I am aware of the Richland appetite, but this? I was so preoccupied with my thoughts that I missed the grins the men were giving one another.
My mom finally spoke up, yanking me out of my astonished mind. “Stop kidding her, all three of you! You know you don’t mean what you’re saying, you’re just trying to tease her.”
Adam and Dad tried to look somewhat regretful but I saw them both trying to hide their smiles. I looked for something to toss at them but unfortunately there was nothing handy except for a lamp. Too heavy I decided. My eyes narrowed as I watched them both finally break out into a fit of laughter, no longer able to keep it under control. Adam’s eyes were tearing up with his mirth which made me jump to my feet and stomp out of the room.
As I left I heard Mom say, “She’s just a little over-emotional right now, what with Daniel’s birth and all. You should all be ashamed of yourselves!”
I was sitting in the nursery, rocking back and forth in the rocker we had bought when Adam came in to the room. He stood in the doorway, hesitant to come in.
He looked so cute standing there. He didn’t really know why I was upset so he didn’t know how to approach me.
Hell, I didn’t know why I was upset…
I looked up and managed a smile, just a tiny smile that tweaked the corners of my mouth upward. I let out a huge breath and stood up and went to him, wrapping my arms around him and holding him tight. I felt tears sting my eyes.
“I’m sorry Adam, for – for being a prat,” I told him, using one of his favorite words.
“No, bella, no. It’s my fault. Really,” he told me, tipping my face up to his in order to press a soft kiss on my lips. He smiled at me and gently wiped the tears away from my eyes and then placed a tender kiss on each eyelid. “C’mon Sarah, don’t cry love, we were only teasing you!”
For a moment I just enjoyed the feel of his thumbs gently stroking along my jaw line as I looked into his eyes; chocolate orbs that aroused me without even trying. I sighed and said, “It’s not you Adam; it’s me. I’m just feeling so tense over, everything I guess.”
“The wedding, love?” he probed.
I nodded my head in agreement. “The wedding, Daniel’s birth, I don’t know. I’m just a bundle of nerves,” I laughed.
“Sarah, we don’t have to get married right away you know. Bella, it’s really only a formality now anyway.”
“No, you’re not getting away that easy, Richland. I want to make to make an honest man out of you!”
He smiled at me – the dimple smile that melted my already mushy heart. “Really Sarah? You’re not just doing this for me?”
“No. I want this Adam. That doesn’t mean that I’m still not a bit nervous about it all, but I do want it.”
“Yes, but are you really ready for it Sarah?”
Chocolate eyes probed hazel ones, searching for an answer. I met his gaze, unblinking. He nodded, as if satisfied with what he saw. For a moment we were the only two people on the planet, just as it should be.
We did get to the steak house and much to my dismay, but not surprise, Derek ate the whole thing! Adam did not, and Dad didn’t even try. Pam only laughed about the whole thing and soon I was too. I was privately convinced he would pop or have the bellyache from hell, but he ate every single bite, and a baked potato and all the fixin’s that came with the meal. Even Mom and Dad were laughing about it and that last evening with Mom and Dad was a lot of fun.
They left the next morning to head to Santa Fe after one last visit with Daniel, who was doing very well now. He was eating about 2 ounces of formula at a time and he looked better every single day.
The rest of that day was spent buying the rest of the furniture for his room, an act of pure joy for me. While we were in Kansas after we left Italy I had paid off my credit cards and now Adam and I had joint accounts. It felt weird at first, and I have to admit to having a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach at depleting so much of my savings, but it was simpler this way. I was still fretting about not having a job but recently an idea had come to me that I wanted to think about a bit more. After the wedding I had decided; I’d figure it out then. For now, plastic was plastic and it got a good use that day. Daniel would have a dream room!
Pam and Derek had loved the ‘Up’ theme and the whole room was adorable after we were done; furniture, bedding, wall décor and fixtures, all bright and whimsical with the theme. Even as tired as I was the day it was all delivered and we put it together I couldn’t help but grin as I stood there and admired it all. I imagined Daniel, laying in his crib with the ‘Up’ mobile hanging over him, listening to the music. I sighed, thinking of the joys that a baby brought into a family and offered yet another prayer of thanks for his safe arrival and how well he was doing.
I wouldn’t be here when he finally got to come home from the hospital; Adam and I needed to go back to California in another week to start working on the wedding plans. I really had no idea where we would hold it, who would perform the ceremony, the list of things I didn’t know yet was downright scary. I felt that frantic feeling start to overcome me again and I gulped in a couple of deep breaths, trying to focus on something else. It would all be okay, it would all be okay…
Those words seemed to be my mantra and I got to know them really well.
Our first day back in California I allowed myself to just relax; I refused to think about the wedding or any other thing that would cause stress. We spent time in the pool and then slathered ourselves with sunscreen and soaked up the sun. It felt good to be home. I loved traveling and I missed being in Texas with the kids but I needed this time to sort of recoup and regenerate.
Tamara, Mark and the boys came over that evening and brought Chinese for dinner but I was still so tired from the whirlwind that the past couple of weeks had been that I didn’t even enjoy my spicy Kung Pao Chicken.
As the boys played in the pool after dinner Adam and I showed Tamara and Mark the pictures of Daniel; I noticed Tamara’s eyes misting as she looked at them. I was genuinely happy for her and Mark; their relationship seemed to have deepened with the joy that the new baby was bringing to their lives. Both of them were just radiating with their happiness and excitement. They were trying to decide whether or not they wanted to know what the sex of the baby was and whether or not to buy a bigger house or just add on to the house they had.
“If we just add on to the house now they boys can stay in the neighborhood with their friends; they’re comfortable there,” Tamara stated. “But…”
“If we buy a bigger house we could get one with a pool and have more room,” Mark finished for her. “We both really like the current neighborhood, but there’s not much to choose from there, bigger houses we mean.”
Tamara nodded in agreement. “Huntington Beach is far enough away from the Hollywood crowd that we feel somewhat insulated from all the crap that goes on there. It’s close enough we can make appearances when we have to, but far enough away that they leave us alone pretty much.”
Mark sighed and said, “Well, we’ll just keep on looking, we still have a few months to make our minds up. Tamara is just finishing up one last project that she is involved with and then she will concentrate on getting ready for the baby. I’ve got one picture that is going to shoot next month in San Francisco that will take about 90 days, if we’re lucky and on time. And you can bet your last buck that I’m going to push for it to be on time!”
Tamara reached for Mark’s hand and squeezed it. He clearly felt bad about being away from home, but she told him, “Mark, San Francisco is only an hour or so away by plane; I’ll be fine!”
Mark swallowed hard and nodded. He had heard her words, but still didn’t really feel any better about it all you could tell. I felt bad for both of them, to have these commitments that they had to honor when clearly they only wanted to be together. I caught Adam’s eye and smiled, feeling myself tear up. I hated the thought of being separated from Adam like that and yet I knew that there was going to be times when that would happen.
God, why am I so emotional all the time? I don’t remember being this nervous the first time I got married. But I was so young and let’s face it – stupid. Didn’t know enough to really think about it all.
I decided I needed to get all of our minds off of this subject and said to Tamara “I really don’t have any ideas about where to get married here. We know we want a small wedding, and we definitely want it kept out of the news. Any ideas?”
Some might have thought that a strange thing to be asking my fiancé’s ex wife, but Tamara was my friend and confidant even. Her support would be helpful for me during this time; I planned to return the favor for her as well during her pregnancy.
“Do you want to get married in a church or by a Justice of the Peace or what?” she asked.
“Probably not a church, that will surely get out to the media. But we can’t just run off to some Justice of the Peace’s office either. The wedding will be small, but larger than that would allow I’m sure.”
“Are you considering doing it here at the house?” Mark asked.
“No,” Adam stated, “Someplace a bit larger than this. But somewhere that we can keep control of the media at.”
“You know, Crystal Cove State Park is right across the road and they have a really nice visitor’s center there; people rent it out for events and things. You could do that and the media wouldn’t have any access to it. Really private.” As Tamara told us this Adam and I both started to smile and nod.
“It would be perfect Adam. Even having a meal catered in we could still control access. Let’s check it out tomorrow, okay?”
Adam nodded and I could tell he really like the idea; it was close to home and the view from the visitor’s center gazed out over the Pacific. It would be a perfect backdrop for our wedding.
The rest of the evening was spent watching the boy’s antics and enjoying the warm breezes off the Pacific. Geoff and Tristan were excited that we were back in California and planned to stay for awhile. Even though they wouldn’t be staying with us tonight they knew that the weekend would be coming soon and that they could then. They had only shown mild curiosity at the pictures of Daniel; they were more interested in meeting him for real at the end of May.
After they left Adam took the cover off of the hot tub and we both sank down into the warm, bubbling water with a sigh. Adam had put some music on and I smiled as we listened to Fleetwood Mac’s Say You Will.
Something in you
Brought out something in me
That I’ve never been since
That part of me that was only for you
That kind of romance
Comes only once
That kind of love
That kind of fever dance
That you love because
You’ve become someone else
In an instant
Say you will
Say you will
Give me one more chance
At least give me time change your mind
That always seems to heal the wounds
If I can, get you to dance
I loved this song, this whole CD actually. It reminded me of our time in Italy but really I had loved it even before then. I heard Adam singing along with the words and laughed when he crooned, Say you will, a bit off-key but full of love and hope. I smiled and confirmed, I WILL Adam!
We talked a bit more about the park and the more I thought about it the more enchanted I became with the idea of having the wedding at the park. It was just perfect. We talked about it as we lay in bed that night. We had opened the doors to the balcony and ocean breezes were fresh and tangy. I loved the smell; it was comforting and calming. Between the breeze and rhythmic melody of the waves rushing to shore I fell asleep easily, wrapped in Adams arms.
The next day was Friday and Krista was coming down to see us since she had no classes that day. Ryan had went back to Texas a few weeks before so she had spent the time studying and looking for someplace to live for them. Ryan was coming out next week to interview with a police department in Riverside and they were both hopeful that he would get the job. Even though they didn’t plan on living together until they were married I’m sure they missed being with one another terribly. When Ryan was in town he stayed in her apartment and she stayed with one of her friends from school.
We were in the kitchen grabbing a snack when the door buzzed. I popped open my Diet Coke and pressed the intercom button. When I realized it was Krista I buzzed her in. She was carrying a backpack slung over her shoulder that appeared to be laden down with more than just a weekend’s worth of clothes.
“Hi Sarah, hi Dad,” she told us as she dropped the backpack down on the floor with a heavy thump. She shrugged and laughed, “Just because it’s the weekend doesn’t mean I don’t have to study!”
I smiled at the familiarity of her greeting for Adam. No longer shy or uncomfortable with their relationship she seemed like any other young college student; full of enthusiasm and energy. Gone was the young woman I first met in Italy who seemed so dark and evasive; the anxiety of what was to come no longer plagued her and she was free to just be herself.
“Well good luck with that, the studying I mean!” Adam told her. “The boys will be here this evening and they will be staying for the weekend. Try to study through that will you,” he teased, his eyes sparkling merrily.
“Well, maybe not as much as I should then,” she laughed. “Are you sure they will want me to stay? I mean, they haven’t seen you for awhile.”
“And neither have you. Tristan and Geoff will be fine, I promise!”
I noticed the sparkly ring on her left hand and an excited exclamation slipped from my mouth. “Ooh, Krista, it’s beautiful. When did you get it?”
“Three weeks ago, when he was here for his last visit. Daniel had just been born and I didn’t want to bother you guys or anything,” she told us.
“Honey, that wouldn’t have been any kind of a bother! You should have told us so we could have celebrated with you. It’s really beautiful,” I told her again, admiring the ring.
Krista was beaming and not only accepted my hug; she hugged me back and then hugged Adam as well, who still hadn’t said anything. He knew very well that they were planning to get married soon, although he would certainly prefer for them to wait a bit before getting married.
“Krista darling, it is indeed lovely and you are glowing,” he told her and kissed her on the forehead. “You’re happy, I can see that so I can’t help but be happy for you.”
“Thanks Dad, that’s a relief for me, for Ryan and I both. I know that you think we’re going too fast, but we really do love one another; we’re ready for this.”
Chocolate –brown eyes met coffee colored ones as he nodded and smiled at her, satisfied that it would be okay. “Well now, are you hungry? We’re just getting ourselves a snack. We booked a place for the wedding this morning!”
“Really?” she asked, popping open a can of Coke. “Cool. I could eat. So where are you getting married?”
I smiled at how easily she flitted from one subject to the other. She sat down next to me on one of the stools while Adam pulled meat and cheese out of the fridge, in preparation for making sandwiches.
“At Crystal Cove Park, in the visitor’s center. Right across the road basically,” I told her.
“I’ve heard it’s beautiful, but I’ve never been there. What’s it like?”
We discussed all the amenities of the visitor’s center while we ate our sandwiches and then drifted into other wedding related subjects. I inwardly groaned at how much there was to do in only 4 weeks. Flowers, cake, invitations, music, a caterer and a million other things, not to mention a dress! How was I going to accomplish all of this in such a short amount of time? The list seemed endless and I felt that ping pong ball that seemed to be residing in my throat threatening to rise up again. I swallowed it down with determination and tried to focus on the outcome and how much I wanted this. For a moment I felt as if I was going to be sick to my stomach and I took a couple of deep breaths, trying to push the urge back down.
“Bella, what’s wrong,” Adam asked, noticing how pale I had suddenly become.
I was caught – I didn’t know what to say. If I admitted that I was scared to death he would worry again that I wasn’t ready. If I said that I just wasn’t feeling good I was lying and he would know that too. Again the fear rose in my throat and this time I couldn’t keep it down. I made a dash to the bathroom just in time to be sick in the toilet.
My head was pounding; I could hear my heart beating frantically in my ears and suddenly I couldn’t breathe.
It was my last thought before I hit the floor.
Copyright 2010 by Cynthia Hope Hodge
All rights reserved. You may not reproduce, or retransmit by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording or by any other means without permission by the author.
Say You Will lyrics and music by Stevie Nicks. No copyright infringement intended.
Thanks to my faithful dear friend Engbunny for keeping me and the story faithful and straight! Oh, and capitalized!