As if the day couldn’t get any more monumental Mr. Jackson called as they sat down for dinner. He and Brett talked for a minute and then he left the room still on the phone. Emmy looked at Stephanie who just shrugged.
After twenty minutes Brett returned to the table. “Emmy, that was Mr. Jackson and he thinks he’s found what happened to your Mom.”
“She’s dead isn’t she?” Emmy had always known that her mom didn’t just leave her. Unlike Kim’s Dad her mother had never given up on anything.
“He believes so. On the night she went missing there was a woman killed across town. No one made the connection because it was so far from where you lived.”
“She was hit by a drunk driver sitting at the bus stop.” Emmy took a deep breath. Knowing didn’t change anything. She’d always known her mother was gone so there wasn’t really any lasting hope that they’d be reunited. “Emmy, he just needs to get a DNA sample from you to give to the police so they can check and see if it matches. She didn’t have any ID on her when she was hit and no one reported her missing so she was just labeled as a Jane Doe.”
“Where was she buried?”
“I’m not sure but I bet Mr. Jackson can find out for us.” Emmy just nodded.
Brett and the boys got up from the table and cleared their dishes. They had practice to get to so they left Emmy and Stephanie sitting at the table.
“What are you thinking?” Stephanie asked once the guys were gone.
“Its kind of weird knowing what happened.” She didn’t really understand what she meant. “I knew that something bad had happened. She was a good mom and wouldn’t have just left. Even though it’s been so long somehow it still hurts.” Stephanie knelt down on the floor in front of her.
“It always will. No matter how long it’s been or how old you get you Mother’s still your mother and the hurt of losing her will be a part of you forever. My mom died twenty years ago and I still think about her everyday.” Stephanie took Emmy’s hand. “You know there are times when something about you reminds me of her.”
Emmy looked up, “Really?”
“What about my lip?”
“The way you chew on the bottom one when you’re thinking. She used to do the same thing. I remember we had this room at our house that we called the library. It was full of books and Mom and Dad both had a desk in there and they were always piled high with books and papers. When they weren’t in their office at the university they would do research in that room. I loved to go in there and read on the couch while they were working.”
“My Dad would take his glasses off and chew on the end, staring out the window when he was deep in thought. My mom though would stare at the painting, or whatever she was working on and chew on her bottom lip. As soon as she figured it out she quit and went right back to work.”
“You do the same thing. I’ve seen it at practice when we’re working on a new play and in games if the defense changes. It usually only takes you a minute but you’ll stand there chewing on your lip as you work through what to do.” Emmy smiled. She liked it that she reminded Stephanie of her mother.
“You know you remind me of my Mom sometimes too.”
“Oh yeah, how?”
“Your nose.” Stephanie reached up and covered her nose.
“Yep.” Emmy was smiling. “When you laugh it crinkles up on the end just like my Mom’s used to.”
“Yes really.” Stephanie hated the way her nose did that. Her mother said that she had her Father’s Irish nose. It was small, which was good, but slightly upturned on the end. This lead to the crinkling when she smiled. Brett had always said that he loved that part of her and even now often kissed it. Tyler had her nose while Jake’s looked more like Brett’s Father’s.
Stephanie pulled Emmy close, “Emmy I know its been a while but I’m really sorry about your Mom.”
Emmy hugged her back “I’m sorry about yours too. I would have liked to have met her.”
“She would have loved you. But you know in a lot of ways I think my Father would have been the one you’d have loved.” Stephanie took her hand and lead her over to the couch where they sat and Stephanie told her all kinds of stories about her father.
She told Emmy about how it was her Dad that had gotten her into basketball. He’d played for his high school team, way back when it wasn’t really a sport but a club. Steph shared how her Dad had been the one to put a goal up on their garage at home and how they spent hours playing each other. She slowed as she said, “When he started to forget things. Out on that court was the one place he never forgot who I was. In the house and at the nursing home he’d often ask what my name was, but out in our driveway he always knew, he always remembered.” Stephanie wiped away a tear. The sting of her father not knowing her was still there, but it felt good to share a piece of him with Emmy.
“So what about your Mom. Where was she from?” Stephanie hoped that her sharing would help Emmy open up some.
“I’m not sure. I guess around here. I’m pretty sure she grew up in an orphanage.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Well she never mentioned her parents and then one day in the grocery a lady came up to her and they started talking. I remember her saying what her name was that that they lived in a home together. At the time I didn’t really understand what she meant. But having lived in homes like that I’m pretty sure she was talking about a children’s home.” Stephanie had never thought about where Emmy’s mom had come from but now wondered if history was repeating itself.
“Did she ever mention your Dad?”
“No never. I asked a couple of times and she just said he was gone. I’m pretty sure she worked with him.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well there is a park downtown that we went to sometimes when she had time off. It was right in the middle of the big buildings. She’d always sit there and look up at them like she wanted to be there. I was about five, I think it was before I’d started going to school, when one day a lady in a suit came and sat down beside her. They hugged and sat and talked while the lady ate her lunch. Mom called me over and she introduced me. The lady’s name was Veronica, I remember thinking it was a weird name, and that they used to work together in one of the buildings. I remember Mom pointing to one and saying that one there.”
“When I ran off to play I heard Veronica say ’thankfully she looks just like you and doesn’t look anything like him.”
Stephanie was amazed at how observant Emmy was. Even as a little kid she had seen and remembered all this. “Sounds like your Mom worked at one of the big companies downtown.”
“Yeah I’m afraid maybe I screwed it up for her.”
“I don’t think she regretted it at all. Listening to you talk about her I’d say she loved you very much.”
Emmy just nodded she hoped that her mother would be proud of the person she was becoming. She knew that she would have loved the Miles’.