I step into my apartment after my morning jog, sweating and breathing heavily. For the past few months I’ve been trying to exercise more and get back into shape, since I’ve kind of let myself go these past couple of years. Truth be told, I find comfort in food when I’m sad or depressed… But then again, who doesn’t these days?
Walking into the bathroom, I find my towel hanging over the shower rod. I pull it down and set it on the counter so I don’t get it wet while I wash. After a quick scrub down, I wrap the towel around myself and head to my room that I share with an adorable two and a half year old girl. My daughter, Violet.
I’m startled by my phone ringing and I drop the towel on the bed before picking it up. “Hello?” I answer without seeing who’s calling.
“Bri...” My Uncle Quentin replies, sounding odd. “You need to come home.” He rushes out.
“What?” I ask, confused by the urgency of his tone. “Uncle Quent, what’s wrong?” I ask, raising my voice at the end so he can hear me over the background noise. It sounds like he’s in a room full of people and I can barely catch what he’s saying. “What?” I ask, louder.
“Heart attack...” is all I hear and I fall to the bed, my knees giving out on me as bad thoughts rush through my head right now. I pray he doesn’t say who I think it might be. “Gram is on the way to the hospital.”
My breath catches in my throat and tears immediately blur my vision. Not my Grandma, no. She can’t be sick. She’s my rock. She’s all I have left besides Uncle Quentin and Spencer for family. “What?” I whisper, hoping I heard him wrong.
He sighs in irritation. “Brianna, get home now!” He barks at me.
I am shocked by his outburst, but I understand it. His mother; my grandmother, is in the hospital. The doctors have been telling her that she needs to take it easy and slow down, but she’s a stubborn southern woman and figures she’ll work ’til she dies.
I hear the phone shuffle before another voice comes through the speaker. “Bri?” My cousin Spencer asks, curiously. “Is that you?”
“Spencer!” I exclaim, so happy to hear his voice. I miss him so much. He’s my best male friend and the only person who really understands why I decided to stay in New York instead of returning home after college.
“Bri, Grammy’s in the hospital. I’ve already booked you a flight home. You leave later today.” He explains. He sounds as if he has the weight of the world on his shoulders right now. “Look, I’m sorry I didn’t confirm it with you first-” He starts to apologize but I cut him off.
“No, no, Spence. It’s okay, thank you.” I breath deeply, wondering if I should call Amy and see if she can watch Violet or if I should just take her with me. “I’ll call Amy and see if she can take care of Violet while I’m gone.” I decide. If she can’t, than I have no other option but to bring my daughter with me.
“So you’re not going to bring her?” He asks, almost incredulously. “Brianna, come on. He deserves to know and he definitely deserves to meet her.” I can tell he doesn’t approve of my choice by the use of my full name.
“Now’s not the time, Spence.” I reiterate the same thing I’ve been saying for the past three years, with hostility. “I’ll be there as soon as I can.” I rush to hang up so I don’t have to hear any more of what he has to say. “Thank you for booking my flight. I’ll see you later on and kiss Grandma for me.” I hang up the phone and shift it between my hands, debating if I should really call my best friend, Amy, and ask if she can take care of Violet.
I sigh and hang my head in shame and sorrow. I haven’t been home in three years, since my Grandpa passed away and now it might be my Gram… I feel like a crappy granddaughter right now. She hasn’t even had the chance to meet her great-granddaughter in person. She hasn’t been able to hug her, play with her or bake with her…
I shake my head to clear my thoughts and dial Amy’s number. She answers on the third ring. “Hello, Sunshine.” She greets, being her silly self.
“Hey.” I reply, taking a deep breath. “I have a favor to ask.” I get straight to the point.
“Sure. What’s up?” She asks, her tone more serious now.
I take a deep, steadying breath. “My Gram is in the hospital and I am heading home this afternoon. Could you watch Violet for me for a few days?” I ask, hesitantly.
“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that, hun.” She offers, gently. “Of course I’ll watch her. But, I can only watch her for this week. Next week I’m on call, again.” She grumbles.
I chuckle at the disdain in her voice. “You knew it was going to happen when you took the EMT job.” I remind her. “I shouldn’t be longer than a few days. If I am, I’ll make arrangements and maybe Brent can fly down with her so she’s not alone on the plane.” I turn the speakerphone on and proceed to get dressed. I choose underwear, black leggings and a black tank top to wear under my white chunky cable-knit sweater.
“Well, I can fly her down the day after tomorrow, or tomorrow night even.” She offers. “We can spend a few days together and you can show me around your hometown?” She asks, but her tone of voice let’s me know that she’s thinking I’ll say no.
I’d like to say no, but I should probably allow Violet to meet her great-grandma, just in case. I sigh heavily, knowing I might be making a huge, disastrous mistake. “Fine.” I grumble. I really hope I don’t regret this. “But wait until I call you and I know more about what’s going on.”
“Okay. Bring her by whenever you want.” Amy giggles. “I’ll be here all day. I’m so excited, I’m going to pack now so I’m ready when you call.”
I laugh at her enthusiasm. “Okay. I’ll pack a suitcase for Vi, too.” I promise.
“See you soon!” She hangs up without saying goodbye and I laugh as I finish getting ready.
I blow dry my hair and spray some frizz-free product in it. Alabama humidity is bound to make me look like I stuck my finger in a light socket, so I need to control my hair as much as I can while leaving it down. I pull my suitcase from my closet and move around my room, packing light outfits; dresses, shorts, t-shirts, sandals, sneakers, a few pairs of jeans, leggings, a hoodie and a couple of sweaters, along with tank tops, and even a few bathing suits. Weather in the south is unpredictable, so you always want to be prepared.
I do the same for Violet and once her suitcase is packed, I proceed to finish getting ready by applying make-up, to make myself look presentable. Foundation, powder, blush, eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara and a bit of lipstick. Once I’m happy with my look, I pull on my thigh-high high heel boots and with the two suitcases in tow, I head for the front door.
I put my charger in my purse and pull on my coat. Grabbing my car keys, I pack the car and drive to Little Smiles Daycare Center to pick up Violet. She’ll be upset at first, knowing that I’m leaving for a couple of days, but she’ll be happy to know that Amy will be bringing her down soon.
With a deep breath, I wipe the moisture from my eyes and head inside to see my little Angel.
The place is quiet, so I am assuming it’s nap time for the little ones. I go to the office to let them know I’m here to pick Violet up.
“Hi, Katie.” I smile at the older lady. “I need to take Violet with me.” I inform her.
“Oh, Brianna, dear.” She greets me with a hug. “I hope everything is alright?” Her kind, warm hazel eyes peer into mine with worry.
I sigh, sadly and look down. “I wish it was.” I reply. “My grandmother is in the hospital and I need to go home.” I tell her. “Amy will take Violet for me and fly her down in the next couple of days.”
“Oh, dear.” She gives me a comforting hug and I gladly take it. “Let me go get her ready.” She pulls away and I thank her.
While she’s off collecting my daughter and her things, I take a seat and text Spencer. He emailed me the details for my flight and says he’ll be picking me up at the airport. I am so thankful that grandma has him and Uncle Quentin. After Grandpa died, I should have gone back home. I could have finished up my last year of school online from there. I didn’t need to stay here, but I chose to because I had something to prove, or so I thought.
The only thing I proved was that I couldn’t handle life by myself, but I am trying.
God, am I trying.
“Mommy?” I hear my daughter’s little voice, ask.
I turn to the door on my right and see my little Angel enter the room. She looks sleepy and her clothes are crumpled a bit.
“Hey sweetie.” I greet her with a warm smile. “Come see Momma.” I coo and she rushes over to me, climbing in my lap. She cuddles up against me and sighs, contentedly. “Did you just wake up?” I ask and she nods. One thing I love about Violet is she isn’t much of a talker when she first wakes up. I love it because I am not a morning person, so I get irritated easily, when someone starts talking to me as soon as my eyes open. “I’m sorry to have to pick you up, but I need you to stay with Amy for a few days. Is that okay?” I ask, looking down at her.
“Why?” She asks, her voice bordering whiny.
“Because Mommy needs to go somewhere for a few days, but Amy is going to bring you to me tomorrow or the next day.” I explain the best I can, without giving too much information.
She pouts and I swear the look nearly kills me. She is the spitting imagine of her father and every time she makes a pouty face, I can picture him doing the same thing. It makes my heart hurt to see it on her, but it makes me want to cry when I see him in her.
“Why can’t I come now?” She asks, her little blue eyes filling with tears.
I sigh, quietly and brush her hair behind her ear. “Because honey, my grammy is in the hospital right now. But I promise you, once I know more I will tell Amy to bring you to me so you can meet your great-grandma, uncle and cousin.”
She smiles a faint smile and turns on my lap to face me. “Will I get to meet my-” She starts, but I interrupt her, knowing what she’s going to ask.
“Come on, Sweetpea, it’s time to go.” I tell her and stand from my seat. I adjust her on my hip and take the bag offered by Katie. “Thank you, Kate.” I tell her, appreciatively. “I will let you know what happens.”
She nods with a sad smile. “Good luck.” She wishes and I walk past her, heading for the exit.
Back outside, I buckle Violet into her car seat and close the door. I take a deep breath before getting into the driver’s seat. I really hope I can distract her with music to keep her from asking anymore questions right now.
I get in, buckle up and start the car, making sure the heater is on full blast, so my little darling doesn’t freeze. “Are you ready?” I ask, looking at her through the rearview mirror.
“Yes.” She replies with a smile.
I head off to Amy’s house and pray the next few days go smoothly. My stomach aches and my heart hurts, knowing what I’m about to do.