It had been three months since my husband died and the pain of it all was just hitting me now. I must have been in a state of shock; well, I don't think it, I know it. He died very suddenly in a car accident and neither me or the girls had a chance to say our goodbyes. Everyone was proud of the way I handled myself through everything. They told me what a strong woman I was and what a good mom I was to my children. While they were kind words to say, they felt shallow because I knew these people did not expierience what I did; not to say that I would wish my hardships on anyone. There was a man there, Mike Brady, who was married to my friend Mary. I was quite surprised to see him but happy nonetheless. It was nice to see someone who had "gotten" my journey because Mary passed away very early in life and left poor Mike a widower.
"If you ever need anything," he told me with a kiss on my cheek. "Call me. You still have mine and Mary's number, right?"
"Yes," I told him as I kissed him back. "I will keep you in mind. Thank you for everything today."
He was the only one I cared to talk to right now. I am so thankful that mom and dad agreed to let my two oldest girls spend the night at their house because I can barely take care of just my youngest. Baby Cindy had been screaming and crying on and off all day and she was just starting up again. I rub my temples as I try to fight back the tears myself. I bite the bullet and dig at my adressbook for Mike and Mary's number. I know this is crazy but I have to at least talk to someone and he knows what I'm going through.
"Hello," he answers. "This is Mike Brady."
"Hello, Mike. This is Carol, Carol Martin."
"Oh, hi. Are you doing okay?"
"Well," I was starting to get nervous now. "I know this is crazy but you said if I ever need anything..."
"Will you come by my house and keep me company? I mean, I know you have your three sons and all but they can come. I only have Cindy but she's driving me nuts."
"Well, my two oldest are at a sleepover and I only have Bobby. Yeah, I think we can stop by. You still live on Sausalito Circle right?"
"Well, that's only a ten minute car ride. See you soon."
"Yes. See you soon. I can't thank you enough for coming."
"Hey, I told you if you ever needed help."
"And you're a man of your word. I'll see you later."
"See you soon," he repeats as I hang up the phone. I could float right now knowing that I had a friend in Mike. My feeling was short lived as Cindy started her screaming fits again. I sigh heavy and run up the stairs to tend to her. Lord, please give me strength to get me through the night.
"Cindy," I say as I go over to her crib. "What's the matter now, honey?"
"Dada," she says as plain as day. Her first word is "dada" and dada is not here to hear her say it. I completely breakdown and I pick up my baby out of her crib. Her poor little cheeks are so damp from all the tears.
"I want dada, too," I say as I bury my face into her chest. I take a seat in the rocking chair with her still wrapped around my waist and I cuddle with her. It takes a while but she finally begins to settle down just when I see Mike pull up in the driveway.
"We have company," I tell Cindy. Cindy smiles at me for the first time all day. I pick ourselves up out of the chair and head down the stairs to greet Mike and Bobby at the front door.
"Thank you so much for this," I say to Mike as I fling the door open. I have heard of his son Bobby but I have never met him before. He had big green eyes and wild black hair; I couldn't take my eyes off him.
"My pleasure," he tell me while he gives Bobby a lift. "This is Bobby."
"Hello, Bobby," I say as I reach out for his hand. He seems all too eager to put his hand into mine.
"Hi, mama," Bobby tells me. I got scared for a minute when he called me that.
"He thinks every woman is his mama," Mike explains to me. "Just go along with it."
"Okay. This is Cindy," I introduce.
"Hi, Cindy," Mike says as he rubs her head. She seems to really like that. "You're a beautiful girl."
"Oooh," she says, pointing to Bobby. She seems to like Bobby as much as she likes head rubs.
"Oh, won't you come in," I say, a little embarrassed. "Where are my manners?"
"You're okay," he says, stepping into the house.
"Why don't we lay the children down in the playpen and I'll go make some coffee or something?"
"Sounds good but you don't have to make anything unless you want something yourself; I'm all set."
"Well, okay. We can just sit and talk," I suggest as me and Mike lay down Bobby and Cindy in the pen. We watch as they giggle amongst themselves and pick up any random toys to fly in the air. They were so cute together and Mike could only seem to agree. Once we figured they were okay, we had our seats on the couch.
"Are you okay, now?" He asks me.
"Yes, I really can't thank you enough for being here with me."
"Tell me something..."
"What made you think of me?"
"You're the only one who understands what it's like to lose a spouse in my circle."
"People offer me all kinds of sympathy but they don't really understand any of this."
"Unfortunately, no one understands grief like this until you've lived it," he said with his eyes getting sad. I instinctively grab his hand and he let me hold it. He gave me a smile and I couldn't help but smile back at him.
"Thank God for Alice," he says after a while.
"Yes, she is our housekeeper."
"A housekeeper? Nice! Not going to lie, I wish I had one."
"Do you really only have your parents for support?"
"I have siblings and other friends but my parents have been the rock or rocks. They are the ones who I wouldn't know what to do without."
"It's amazing how we're really not alone in this. It really is times like these where you learn which people in your life show up."
"Tonight you were one of them."
"Like you said, I understand what you're going through. Remember the day I told you this: You're okay."
"I really don't feel okay sometimes."
"You are though. You are in mourning, Carol. You are going to have days where you feel like you can't get through but you will. You're strong not because you have to be but because you are."
"I knew I called you for a reason," I tell him as I kiss his cheek. He kisses mine back as we begin to sit in silence watching our two youngest children play together. Our hands were still together and we stayed that way for quite a while.