Jake snapped his finger and turned to Mitch. “You know what I just bought?”
“That stuff to make your favorite drink, Bitch.”
“What drink is that?”
“What do you call it again? Crying Climax?”
“Well, we’re making it later. How about a beer for now?”
Jake took two bottles out of the paper bag he’d brought in and handed one to Mitch.
Mitch twisted the cap off, took a swig and said, “So, Jake, you’ll have to tell us the full story of the elevator birth. I can’t even imagine.”
“Man, you haven’t lived until you’ve pulled your child out of the woman you love with a Celine Dion song playing in the background.”
Mitch held up his palm. “I’m pretty sure I’m okay with foregoing that rite of passage.”
We all got a good laugh out of that one. I looked around the room. The dog was now licking Jake’s face. The bird was shouting obscenities from his cage in the corner. Squeals of laughter from A.J. and Lara could be heard coming from down the hall. Henry was listening to frightening YouTube videos of television jingles playing in slow motion. My best friend, Skylar, was cancer-free, and we were holding the miracle babies we both thought we’d never have. This was life. Life was good and so precious.
The health and well-being of the people I loved most were all that really mattered. Driven by our egos, we spend so much time worrying about the little stuff while letting what’s really important pass us by.
A week after our friends’ visit, I was lying in bed when Jake’s voice streamed through the baby monitor on my nightstand. He was in the other room changing Kennedy, talking to her as he always did and probably didn’t realize that every word that came out of his mouth was being transmitted to me in our bedroom.
“Don’t tell her about our little surprise, okay?”
What was he talking about?
“Speaking of surprises, damn girl! Momma must have known you were due when she sent me in here. That wasn’t very nice of her. How do I always get stuck with these? Huh?”
She must have had a massive dump. Whoops.
“Well, you’re lucky you’re cute. I’m gonna call Popeye, though, and tell him my baby is harboring some of his spinach in her diaper. Call the authorities.”
“Yeah…you think that’s funny?”
I covered my mouth in laughter then closed my eyes, listening to the sounds of the diaper crinkling and Jake’s smooching her.
“Ow. You like to pull on my lip ring, huh? I know. That’s your favorite thing to do.”
“I love you to the moon, little alien.”
The sound of the door closing in her room prompted me to straighten up in bed to deter from my eavesdropping.
Jake walked in. He was shirtless and smelled so good after his shower. His tanned skin was amazingly smooth. He’d recently added two star tattoos on the right side of his chest. They represented each of our two children, the stars to his moon.
Jake sighed as he joined me under the crisp sheets. “It feels so good to be in bed.”
“Yeah…work was a cluster fuck. But kissing my little alien goodnight and getting to end the day right here is what gets me through.”
We were waiting six weeks per the doctor’s suggestion before having sex again. We still had one week to go, and I knew the wait was killing him. Even though I felt ready physically, we’d decided to follow the doctor’s orders.
Pressing my ass into him, I encouraged him to spoon me. Exhausted, we both nodded off within minutes.
Sometime in the middle of the night, what seemed like a bad dream woke me up. It wasn’t your typical nightmare, though. It was an actual recollection of things I thought had been erased from my memory. I could suddenly clearly remember all of the terrifying moments from the day Kennedy was born: waking up in the ambulance, the fear that I was bleeding to death, the fear that I’d never see Jake or my babies again. Up until tonight, I’d suffered amnesia when it came to the events right after the delivery. I remembered the baby coming out of me then Jake at my hospital bedside in tears, but everything in between had been a blur.
Sweat was pouring off of me. The realization of how close I’d come to possibly dying hit me.
Jake turned on the lamp. “Nina?”
“Are you okay?”
“I remember waking up in the ambulance now. I thought I was dying. The thought of never seeing you again…you know what’s crazy? I was thinking about you more than even our children. Somehow, I knew they’d be alright because they’d have you. But I didn’t think you’d be okay without me. And I didn’t want to leave this Earth without you. Does that make sense? I knew you’d be there for them because you had to be, but I didn’t think you’d really be okay.”
He held me tight. “You’re right.”
“This might sound strange, but I feel like we’ve been together before this life and like we’ll be together again. It’s as if we’re—”
“Truly connected. I know. When they made me stay out of the operating room and I had to wait not knowing whether you were okay, I came to that same conclusion. I felt dead until the doctor came out and told me you were alive.”