Gregory had passed away seven months ago today. Virginia looked at her rounded belly in the mirror and wondered how she would raise their child alone. She was due any day now and all she could think about was Gregory and how he should be by her side. The unfairness of his loss ate at her every day. She tried to be as positive as possible for the little girl who had grown inside her over the past nine months, and who would only have one parent but it was a struggle every minute of every day. She left the bathroom and slowly walked down the hall to the kitchen where her mom was puttering around making breakfast. She sat down in a chair while her mom placed a glass of tomato juice in front of her. She had craved tomato juice for the entirety of her pregnancy and wondered if her baby would love or hate tomatoes. The kitchen should have felt familiar to her since she had lived there for almost six months, but it still felt strange and alien. With Gregory’s death she’d had no choice but to sell the house because there was no way she could make the mortgage payments on her own. The house had sold faster than she had expected, just a week after being listed and with her mom’s help she had found an apartment to rent and moved in. It was a two bedroom plus den apartment with a small balcony in an up and coming neighborhood. Her in-laws had helped out by painting the walls sage green in the kitchen, turquoise in the bathroom, white with a slate gray accent wall in the living room and a buttery tan in the dining room. Her bedroom was white with Gregory’s photographs blown up and placed everywhere. All of them were city shots done in black and white film. The nursery was a pale lilac color with baby owls painted along the trim. Their family had supported her any way they could and she was thankful for them. But she would have given her soul for Gregory to return to her.
They had met two years ago at the laundromat near her apartment. She had just finished using a cart and he asked if it was free. Then he had asked her how to add bleach and they had gone on a date the next night. Eight months later he had proposed and in two months they were Mr. and Mrs. Benedict. They had been so happy and when she became pregnant it seemed like all their dreams were coming true. He had been so excited to be a dad and had made so many plans for their house, like a tree house and putting in a pool so they could have cool birthday parties. They had talked about names in passing and he had told her how he wanted a daughter named Angie after his favorite aunt who had passed away when he was nineteen. She felt a series of kicks and patted her baby girl and told her how soon she would be holding her and rocking her to sleep. She finished her juice and looked at her mother. “Mom?”
“How do you do it? How did you go on after Dad died? Everyone says time heals but I feel more angry and alone now than I did when I first got the news.”
“Well I had to keep on living because I had to take care of you and your brother. I didn’t have any family to help out and everything fell on me. I cried myself to sleep every night for almost five years.”
Virginia looked at her mother and wondered if they would ever be okay or if their losses were too much to overcome. Her mom placed their breakfast on the table and sat down. “I knew your father for ten years before we married and we were lucky enough to have nine years of marriage, but it pains me so much that you had less than two years with Gregory. If I could I would take his place, because it has broken me up to see you in so much pain. I ask God why this family has had to suffer so much but he hasn’t answered me yet.”
“I hate that Angie will grow up without her father and that he will never see her take her first step, go to school, and watch her graduate, all the things that we as a family will not experience.”
“I better than anyone know that his absence will always be with you both, but I honestly believe that both your father and Greg are with us.”
The two women bowed their heads as Virginia’s mother said grace and just as they started to eat, the sun came pouring in through the window and for just a second Virginia could have sworn that Greg was beside her.