Present Day, Fall 2019
Shanna had gone into labor. Jason texted Luna to meet up at the hospital. She was in two minds but decided that she wanted to share in Shanna’s happiness.
She picks up a bouquet of sunflowers from Rachel’s shop. Sunflowers were Shanna’s favorite.
When Luna arrives, Shanna had already been settled in her room. She had given birth to a healthy baby girl, Alaina.
Luna stops dead in her tracks, as she looks inside the room.
Cooper was sitting on a chair next to Shanna’s bed, holding the newborn baby in his arms.
Though his tattered Red Sox ball cap fitted low on his head, shielding his eyes from her eyeline, she can tell Alaina has her uncle captivated.
Shanna looks up to find Luna rooted to the spot.
She motions for Luna to come inside.
Cooper raises his head, tears glistened in his blue eyes.
Luna tried pressing forward, moving one foot in front of the other. But her legs weighed down like lead.
JJ held out his hand, smiling. Luna could use the help, as she seemed to have lost the ability to move.
She edges closer to the bed, finally letting go of JJ’s assisting hand.
“Hey…” Cooper said under his breath, as though he was fearful disturbing Alaina’s peace. His focus immense, trying to remain steady and not stir the precious bundle in his arms.
Luna’s mouth curves up into a smile.
Her mind flashed back to the night Cooper held Monroe Elora. How he broke down at the sight of their daughter. Closing her eyes now, Luna could still hear the anguish in his cry. She could still feel the weight of the deafening silence of not hearing their daughter cry.
Cooper slowly gets up, standing next to Luna. He smiles. He could fix the world with that smile.
“You should hold her…” he whispers.
Luna squeezed her eyes shut, inhaling. When she opens her eyes, baby Alaina was in her arms.
The warmth of the tiny body against her chest caused her breath to hitch. Her tiny face was pinkish, flush with life and warmth.
“… so beautiful…”
“Just like her mamma” JJ add, looking on over Luna’s shoulder.
Luna lowered her face to the tiny, angelic face. She presses a kiss to her forehead.
Luna’s eyes closed again; she was back in the delivery room. She could still feel the cold skin of Monroe’s forehead against her lips now.
Cooper’s words from that night rang through now…
Her eyes… it looks painful, like it hurts…
… and her lips… does it mean, she… did she die a while ago…
Luna turns quickly and hands Alaina over to JJ.
“I… I have to… I should go…”
“Lu…” Cooper gently grabs her wrist.
When she looks up to meet his gaze, his heart sank.
Cooper puts his hand around her shoulder, turns to Shanna.
“We’ll get some coffees for you guys. Give you some time with your little one. We’ll be right back”
Shanna nods, a tear dripping onto her hand.
Cooper grips Luna’s shoulder a bit tighter, as they walk out of the hospital room.
They carry on walking until they are out back, in a gardened patient recreational area.
Luna lowers down against a brick wall. She gently taps the back of her head against the wall, three times.
Cooper lowers himself down next to her.
She swallows hard, “I did not mean to do that… they should be happy and celebrate… and I just… I brought the mood down. I’m sorry.”
He takes her hand in his, weaves his fingers between hers. Kisses that back of her hand.
“You have nothing to be sorry for Lu. That was hard. Everyone understands that… well, they understand enough to know how difficult it must be.”
“I know I shouldn’t say anymore… but… that should’ve been us. I couldn’t watch at you holding Alaina without flashbacks of you holding Monroe… and it breaks my heart Coop… because I took that from you.”
“Lu… you didn’t take anything from me. It was something that happened to us. I wish it hadn’t, but there’s no blame there.”
After a few minutes of silence, Luna relaxes her tensed up shoulders
“She’s beautiful…” Luna rests her head on his shoulder.
Cooper smiles, “She is. She is gonna have me wrapped around her little finger for sure”
“Gonna?” Luna giggles, “She already does”
“You know what I wonder sometimes…”
“I wonder if Monroe would’ve had your eyes”
He gently rests his head lightly on hers.
“I would’ve been happy either way. She definitely had your little nose though… and that mouth. Man, I would’ve had to do work to keep the boys at bay with that one.”
“She would’ve completely had you under her spell… like Alaina…”
Luna lifts her head, tucked from underneath his. She looks across, hooks her index finger around the gold chain peaking under his t-shirt. Tugging it from underneath the fabric. She runs her thumb across the engraving, as if though for the first time.
“I feel like I have nothing of her… no reminder, not even a scar…”
“She’s in your heart… always”
“Did losing Monroe break us? Or did it break me and I broke us?”
“I don’t think we broke Lu… we just drifted apart.”
“I just always thought we were forever… what’s that thing she says to Tristan in Legends of the Fall… in the garden, with the bracelet…”
“… forever turned out to be too long…”
Luna smiles, “Yeah, that”
“There’s a bunch of things we could’ve done different babe… and it’d still lead us down the same path… coz that’s where the path was meant to go. And now before you throw Eckhart Tolle as my excuse for being deep…”
She looks across at him, her lips curve upward.
His laugh settled in his throat.
“What I’m saying… in a roundabout way…”
“You’re saying that, it’s fate and forever is a myth”
“That’s what you’re going with?” he teases.
“We should probably go back… and get the coffee you promised”
He shakes his head, closing his eyes. As the sun hits his face.
“No rush, we can stay here for as long as you need”
She looks down at their linked hands. Then back up at his sunlit face. His cheeks were turning pink, flush from the heat of the sun. The darkness of his eyelashes, contrast to his creamy-pink complexion. Her eyes linger over the beauty mark on his cheek.
She narrows her eyes, looking back down at their hands.
They could sit there for as long as she needs… the thought replayed.
For the first time in a long while, Luna let her thoughts go back to her childhood. How she’d miss out on knowing her biological parents. How her sheer stubbornness of surviving without knowing the people who genetically brought her to be, left her lacking a sense of belonging and heritage.
She’d wondered at times whose eyes she had, was it her fathers? Did she have dark hair like her mother? Did she inherit the tremor of her upper left cheek when she got angry?
Where were they in the world right now? Cuba? Poland?
Were they alive, were they well? Were they happy? Did she ever cross their mind?
Did they have a feeling of something being missing occasionally, just as she does when she realizes that she misses her daughter?