‘The hospital where Andrea is staying has an amazing gift shop. I know we can go somewhere else and try to find her something, but I am not going to lie, I would go to that hospital gift shop and buy a gift even if it was not for someone in the hospital. It is not your normal gift shop,’ Judith insisted. ‘Okay then, let’s just do that, then they can deliver it to the room or we can carry it in, either one,’ Sierra agreed.
Sierra and Judith walked around the gift shop looking at all of the beautiful gifts. ‘You were right when you said this is no ordinary gift shop,’ Sierra said. ‘I just love this little pink bear – but as soon as we got it she would find out she is having a boy.’ ‘Yeah, I think we should go with something more neutral to be on the safe side,’ her mom agreed. They looked at turtles, and giraffes, brown teddy bears, and monkeys, but they both knew their search was over when Sierra found a huge, white, fluffy elephant with a green bow tied around its neck. “This is it!” Sierra said gleefully. “I don’t have to look any farther. I love it!” She exclaimed. ‘Perfect,’ Judith resounded, ‘Now let’s just get a big balloon to go with it. I think that would be better than flowers anyway since it is a baby.’
The two flipped through a huge book of balloon possibilities and settled on a big one that was shaped like Noah’s Ark. The colors were pastel, so they got some soft yellow, green, and white, smaller balloons to enhance the colors. ‘Can you have this delivered to room 704 as soon as you have it ready? We are going to visit my daughter-in-law, and it would be nice for this to arrive while we are still in the room,’ Judith suggested. “Give us about fifteen minutes and we will bring it up to her,’ the attendant promised.
The nurse was just stepping out of the room when they arrived at Andrea’s door. Josh was sitting by the window. He looked like he was ready to go to sleep. ‘How are things going?’ Judith asked as she gave Andrea a hug. ‘The nurse just left and said that the doctor would be in this evening to see Andrea, and if everything goes as planned, they will probably release her first thing in the morning. We will not know until we talk to the doctor if he is going to put her on complete bed rest or not. We are hoping he will just tell her to take it easy, but we will do whatever we have to do,’ Josh said with genuine concern. ‘Have you eaten, Josh?’ Sierra asked. ‘Well, no, I thought about going to get something in a little bit, but I hate to leave Andrea here by herself,’ he replied.
‘Josh, I am going to take a nap anyway, go get yourself something to eat – and you can bring me something back. I think I have had all of the bland mashed potatoes I can take for one week,’ she tried to laugh. ‘Well it just so happens that Sierra and I were going to go eat after we left the hospital. Josh why don’t you come? Go with us? We will drop you back off when you are done,’ Judith invited him hoping he would agree. He needed to get out of that room for a bit and recuperate. ‘Please Josh. Go with them. You need to get out of here for a while,’ Andrea entreated. Josh agreed.
‘Well, what’s going on with the preacher guy, what’s his name?’ Andrea asked. ‘His name is Grayson, and it is going really well,’ Sierra answered. She didn’t want to take the time to tell the whole story, especially since Andrea was still half lit on some sort of medication to keep her sedated. ‘We had dinner last night at Pastor Allen’s house, then we talked for a while, and he invited me to come to Tennessee with him next week for his cousin’s wedding,’ she summarized. ‘Whoa, going to meet the family already, you don’t waste any time do you sis,’ Josh jested from the seat by the window. ‘Ha! No, I guess not,’ she said with a blush in her cheeks.
About that time there was a knock at the door. The lady from the gift shop came in with the elephant and balloons. ‘That was fast,’ Sierra thought. It looked perfect. ‘Oh, who are those from,’ Andrea said as she reached out for the card. When she saw that it was from Judith and Sierra she was very complimentary. ‘That was so sweet guys, you didn’t have to do that, but I love it!’ she said in an effort to be gracious. ‘Now ya’ll go on and get some lunch. The quicker you go, the quicker I will get some good food in here too,’ she laughed. ‘What are you in the mood for,’ Sierra asked. ‘Anything but Chinese or Japanese,’ Josh responded instead of Andrea, and in an adamant tone. ‘What he said,’ Andrea laughed. ‘You know what I like Josh, I trust you. Have fun!’
Josh was tired, but much more relaxed than he had been the day before. He was relieved to know that things were going to be okay, and thankful they got to the hospital in time. ‘I heard that new place over by the movie theater is supposed to be really good. It’s some kind of cheesecake place, but they have everything you can imagine on the menu. Why don’t we try that out,’ he suggested. ‘Why don’t I just follow you over there so you don’t have to come back to the hospital? There’s no sense in backtracking,’ he said thoughtfully. ‘Okay, I know exactly where we are going, we will meet you there,’ said Judith.
The cheesecake place quickly became Sierra’s favorite restaurant. It was beautiful, the food was amazing, the servings were enormous, and the cheesecakes were so appealing that they each bought a piece to-go since they were too full to eat it in the restaurant. As they were asking for the check, they realized that they had forgotten to order something for Andrea. ‘Oh, can we please see a menu. We need to place a to-go order if that would be possible. If you need us to we can wait in the lobby,’ Josh said. ‘By all means, stay where you are, I will refill your drinks. There is no rush,’ she replied. ‘I will order her the parmesan pasta with chicken, she will like that.’ Josh said as he looked over the choices.
As they waited for Andrea’s food, they discussed in more detail the relationship status of Grayson and Sierra. ‘It sounds like I may have met your new brother-in-law,’ Judith said to Josh. ‘Well, mom, don’t jump the gun. Things are going well, he did say that he too feels like there is something stirring between us, but we didn’t go pick out rings or anything.’ Sierra said bashfully. ‘Well, we are going to look at wedding dresses after we eat Josh, so what does that tell you?’ Judith announced. ‘Now mom, you know that we were just going to do that for fun. There is nothing to it Josh, really, I do feel like he may be one I will marry someday, but I am not saying it is going to be tomorrow! I am not saying with certainty that it will ever be – but something is happening. That’s all I know,’ she made clear.
‘You know you are going to have to bring him over so we can give you our approval before you make any kind of real decisions,’ Josh poked in a fatherly tone. ‘Well mom is the one who introduced me to him, so how is that for approval?’ she said in reply to his remark.
It was not long before Andrea’s food was ready and they headed out the door. ‘Ya’ll have fun playing dress-up and we will give you a call tomorrow evening when we get back home,’ Josh said as he headed to his truck with a bag of food in his hand.
’Okay, it’s about one-thirty in the afternoon now. Your dad gets home at about four thirty in the evening, so if we head home by about three thirty, that should give us plenty of time to go look at dresses and be home in time to get some supper on the stove. ‘Sounds like a plan to me,’ Sierra laughed ran to the car.
Sierra and Judith were both overwhelmed with the choices in the bridal store. Dress after dress, after dress was hanging on the racks and all she had to do was point to one and the attendant would put it in the dressing room. Just as Andrea told them, the attendant knew how to look at Sierra’s height, weight, and other factors, and narrow down the choices that would work for her. She explained that any dress she tried on that did not fit correctly could be altered for free right there in the store after it was purchased.
Sierra was a bit sentimental standing in the bridal store with her mother. This was the day she had dreamt of since she was old enough to imagine what it would be like to be the one wearing a beautiful dress walking toward her prince charming. She could tell by the Judith’s quiet demeanor that she too sensed the surreal ambiance of the moment, but she was careful to mention it in fear of making her cry.
Sierra picked full shirted gowns with flowing trains, fitted bodices, and flowing veils. Every dress that brought the image of a princess to her mind was sent away to the dressing room. ’I think we have a pretty good selection to start with if you want to go ahead and try them on, then if you are not pleased with any of them, we can go back to the drawing board. What do you say? The attendant encouraged. Sierra had a great time trying on the gowns, but it was difficult for Judith to get through the occasion without crying. She was happy and sad at the same time. ‘Sierra, you look beautiful in every dress you put on, but of these, I like this one the best,’ she said.
‘Ok. Now that we have tried this style on, why don’t we look at some dresses in a different style,’ the attendant suggested. We have some gowns that are not as – well – for lack of a better word – fluffy, but they are extravagant and elegant. You may be surprised to find that you like them.
‘You are a beautiful girl,’ the lady went on with her sales pitch. ‘You don’t need so much dress to draw the attention of the audience and ultimately your groom. Your beauty will enhance the dress rather than the dress enhancing you. Does that make sense? And you can be sure I do not say that to everyone,’ the attendant said, unrehearsed. Sierra laughed inside as that was her exact thought, ‘she says that to everyone.’
She picked up one dress that looked almost like a silk scarf. Having had her mind on such full dresses, she thought there was not much to it, but she decided to try it on for kicks. As it turns out, it was the most beautiful dress she had tried on all day. It was as if it was made for her petite frame. Fitted from the neck to the knees, with a flowing bottom, laced with beads from the top to the bottom, Sierra barely recognized herself when she looked in the mirror. She looked back at her mother to see her wiping away the tears from her eyes.
‘Okay, take it off Sierra – that’s all I can take for one day,’ Judith commanded. ‘That’s the one – but I can’t look at you in it any more. Ma’am, if you would write down the information on that dress just in case we decide we want to get it one day I would really appreciate it,’ Judith said as she rushed over to help Sierra get out of that dress. ‘Boy, I wasn’t expecting to feel what I just felt when I saw you in that dress,’ she explained in a panic. This game of dress-up has got to be over because this momma can’t take any more. One week has not been long enough for me to get prepared for this reality!’
Sierra got dressed while Judith went to the front to get the information on the dress. They left the bridal store and headed home.