Late Nights & Early Mornings
It had been a long day for Ricky. After hearing during his lunch break that Amy would be talking to Ben tomorrow he'd managed to stay focused only because he didn't want to have to face the wrath of Bunny. Now that his shift was done for the day he was sitting on the couch in his apartment, all cleaned up from work but not feeling very hungry. He knew he needed to eat something before picking up John from Amy's but nothing in the fridge, freezer, or cupboards had seemed appealing. Instead he sat there on the couch, occasionally checking his watch waiting for time to creep closer to John's bedtime. Why does it bother me SO much that Amy doesn't want to talk to me? Why did I have that dream after she assured me she was okay? I mean, she called me as soon as she listened to my message to tell me she was fine so why the dream? And how on earth am I supposed to keep my promises to her if she won't talk to me and tell me what's going on!? He replayed their conversation from that night in his mind again, trying to figure out what words or phrases he'd spoken that caused Amy to get lost in thought. Try as he might, he couldn't pin down exactly what he'd said that had triggered the drastic end to that conversation. He glanced at his watch and was thankful that it was finally 7:15. He knew it wouldn't take him that long to get to Amy's and if he left now he'd be there early, but he decided to leave then anyway. His thoughts were on Amy the whole drive to her house and he was still wondering about her as he rang the front doorbell. Anne opened the door.
"Hello, Ricky. A little early aren't we?"
"Maybe a little." Try a whole half hour. Anne welcomed him in and he sat down on the couch, not trusting himself to go up to Amy's room and have small talk with her. Especially since he knew if he tried he might not be able to stop himself from trying to get her to talk about what he actually wanted to talk to her about. Instead he opted to silently sit on the couch for the next twenty minutes or so. Amy came downstairs and went to place John in his playpen when she spotted Ricky sitting on the couch.
"You're early." Ricky was startled; he hadn't heard her walk in.
"A little." He looked at John and saw that he was already dressed in his pajamas and was happily spinning the wheels on his toy truck, oblivious to what was going on around him. Ricky couldn't help it. Seeing his son always made him smile and this was no exception. Amy sat John down on the couch next to Ricky and went upstairs to grab his overnight bag. She returned moments later and handed the bag to Ricky without a word. He took it from her and she stooped to scoop up John once again.
"You be a good boy for daddy, okay?" She kissed his forehead but he continued to ignore her, entranced with his toy truck's wheels. Amy just chuckled before handing him to Ricky, who was now standing, ready to take John for the weekend. Their hands brushed as she handed Ricky their son and that simple contact made him smile. She walked him to the door and held it as he walked out.
"See you Sunday."
"See you Sunday, Amy." Ricky turned and walked towards his car. He turned back to look at Amy for a moment but she had already shut the door and his spirits sank just a little. He quickly buckled John in his car seat and made his way back to his apartment. Dinner at the Juergens household was a subdued affair, with everyone seemingly in their own head space. Anne looked around the dinner table curiously.
"Is there something going on that I should know about?" Three heads suddenly swiveled in Anne's direction, confusion written all over their faces. Anne smirked.
"You all seem to be deep in thought. Is there anything any of you want to share? After all, families are supposed to talk to each other at the dinner table." George was the first to respond.
"We've just got a lot on our minds tonight I guess. I can't speak for the girls but I've been doing some soul searching and I'll tell you about it in a few days." Anne was now very curious as to what was on George's mind, but he'd asked for some time to think about things so she'd let it go, for now. Dinner finished in silence.
Back at Ricky's apartment, John went to sleep quickly. Little guy must've had a busy day at the nursery. Still not hungry, Ricky quickly got ready for bed himself. He finished up some homework he still had, just to pass the time, and went to bed just before 10:00. He didn't fall asleep right away. Instead he turned to his side and faced John's crib, watching his son sleep peacefully. He finally drifted off to thoughts of his son. But sleep would elude him once again as he found himself wide awake at 2:00 AM, his face wet with tears. Not another one. He rolled onto his back and wiped his face with his hands. He closed his eyes in an attempt to go back to sleep but instead, the dream replayed in his head
"Yes, John?" Ricky replied without looking at his son, busy cutting up apples for their lunch.
"Why don't I have a mommy again?" Ricky sighed as he finished cutting the last apple and turned to look at his son. John had been asking him that question on and off for the past few months now.
"John, I've told you. Your mommy got sick and had to go the hospital but she was so sick the doctors couldn't help her and she died." Every time Ricky told this to John he started to tear up. He missed Amy so much. He put the apples on their plates alongside their chips and sandwiches and carried them to the kitchen table and John climbed into his seat.
"And she loved me a lot, right?" John asked, picking up and eating one of his apple slices.
"Yes, John. Your mommy loved you more than you'll ever know." Ricky just stared at his three year old son with sadness in his eyes. He knew what was coming next. They had had this conversation many times over the past few months.
"What was mommy like?" For some reason Ricky never described Amy quite the same way to John because each time the question was asked, Ricky found some new words or ways to describe to John how wonderful his mother had been, and this time was no different. As if my magic or divine intervention, words to describe Amy just came to Ricky.
"Your mom was a beautiful, kind hearted, sweet woman who wanted nothing more than for her friends and family to be happy. She was a hard worker with a lot of patience. She had a lot of love to give and she loved you with all her heart. Her face would light up like a Christmas tree every time she saw you, held you, kissed you, heard you laugh, and saw you smile. You were mommy's pride and joy and she made sure no one ever hurt you so you'd always be safe and happy. Mommy had a gorgeous smile. It was so perfect that every time I saw it I couldn't help but smile too. If your mommy was sad or upset I did whatever I could to try to make her smile again. Mommy was smart and sweet and loved music. I could watch mommy play her French horn for hours and not be bored. Your mommy was as perfect as an angel."
"Do you miss mommy?"
"Every day," Ricky replied without hesitation.
"Do you think she misses me?"
"Every day buddy." Ricky picked up his sandwich to start eating his lunch, knowing that in the past this was always John's last question about his mother.
"Yes, son?" John started to sniffle, causing Ricky to look up in surprise. He knew John missed his mother but talking about her these past few months had never made his cry. Ricky scooted his chair back, reached over and pulled John onto his lap, and hugged him close.
"I miss her too." Ricky couldn't help but cry for himself and his son as he comforted John by slowly rocking him and rubbing his back. John had only been a toddler when his mother was taken away from him. His only memories of her were the photos and videos he and her family had of her and John together. He, on the other hand, had spent time with her for nearly two years and he still missed her dearly. I don't know how I'm gonna keep it together for the both of us. We both just miss her too much.
Ricky laid in bed, crying fresh tears. Amy means more to me than I realized if I'm dreaming about her. Especially if I'm describing her so vividly to our son. How did this happen? When did this happen? Amy has always been important to me. I've always cared about her differently than I've cared about anyone else because she's the mother of my son. But when did I start to need and miss her? The answer suddenly came to him: New York. I started to miss her half way through her program. That's why I went to see her. Ricky finally managed to drift back to sleep, for several hours. John woke up bright and early at 6:30, ready to play.
Ricky dragged himself out of bed and got himself and John dressed before heading to the kitchen to make them some breakfast. John, ever the happy baby, sat in his high chair happily playing with his truck and squealing with delight. Despite his lack of quality sleep the night before, Ricky smiled, glad his son was so happy and carefree. I have Amy to thank for that he thought as he finished scrambling his eggs. Their breakfasts completed, he had to wrestle the truck away from John so he could place John's breakfast on his tray. John protested for a few minutes but his hunger got the better of him and he settled down to eat his breakfast after only a few minutes of crying. Ricky enjoyed his breakfast and bemusedly watched John enjoy his. Checking his watch he saw that it was almost time to get going. He put the dishes in the sink and grabbed John's diaper bag before picking John up out of his high chair, remembering to give him back his new favorite toy. John squealed with delight at being reunited with his toy truck and Ricky headed downstairs to his car. After securely buckling in his son, Ricky drove to his parent's house to drop John off with his mother for the morning.
"Hi sweetheart!" Margaret greeted him, already holding out her arms for John. Ricky smiled and deposited the little boy in his grandma's loving arms.
"And how's my favorite grandson this morning?" John only spared her a glance before returning his attention to his truck.
"Full of energy, as usual, and oddly attached to his toy truck today" Ricky replied with a smile. They went into the house and Ricky placed John's diaper bag on the kitchen table while Margaret placed John in his playpen, which she'd temporarily moved into the kitchen because she had some baking to do.
"When I get off work today can we chat for a few minutes?"
"Of course. Is everything alright?"
"Yeah, I just need some womanly advice, that's all." Ricky checked his watch. He kissed his mother on the cheek, kissed his son on the head, and headed off to work.