Emily looked across the dining room table at her husband. As usual the only thing looking back at her was the front page of the morning paper. Forty three years of marriage and some things never changed, but there was a level of comfort in that. She smiled indulgently and looked down at the organizer next to her coffee cup. A luncheon meeting for the symphony committee and a D.A.R. tea were both on the agenda for today and somehow she needed to fit in a call to the caterer to check on the arrangements for next week's hospital benefit dinner.
The ring of the doorbell interrupted all thoughts of her jam packed schedule.
Richard turned down a corner of his paper and gave his wife a puzzled look, "Are you expecting someone?"
"No," she answered as the maid walked through on the way to answer the door.
Emily closed her date book and listened to hear who it was, but Richard had already gone back to his newspaper when crisp purposeful footsteps were heard crossing the foyer.
"Morning, guys," Lorelai greeted her parents as she entered the room.
"Lorelai," Emily replied with a note of surprise. "I don't have anything in my book. Did we have something scheduled today?"
Lorelai smiled at her mother and teased warmly, "Do I need an appointment to visit my parents?"
Emily returned her daughter's smile. "Well, no, of course not. Sit down. Would you like some coffee? Something to eat?"
"Sure, that would be great. Thanks," Lorelai said as she took her usual place at the table.
Emily watched her daughter for a moment, still in shock that she had suddenly appeared at their breakfast table, then called out to the maid. "Julia, please bring my daughter a plate and a cup of coffee."
The maid appeared in the doorway with a quick, "Yes ma'am," before disappearing back into the kitchen.
Richard folded up his paper and put it aside. "To what do we owe the pleasure of your company this morning?" he asked then began to eat his grapefruit.
"Why, thank you for asking, Dad," Lorelai said with exaggerated enthusiasm. She reached into the purse hooked on the back of her chair and pulled out a stack of pictures. "I came to get an opinion on centerpieces for the wedding."
Emily reached for the photos automatically. Lorelai was about to hand them to her when Richard asked with amused interest, "Ah… well… let's have a look, shall we?"
Lorelai smiled and handed them to her father instead, picking up on his playful tone. "I think you'll really like the one with the Venus flytraps."
Richard looked through the stack good-naturedly. "Yes, that is nice, but I think I prefer the dandelions."
Emily let out an exasperated sigh. "Oh honestly, you two."
Lorelai took the photos her father was holding out to her and handed them to her mother. "What do you think, Mom? Venus flytraps or dandelions?"
"Well, personally I'm fond of poison ivy," Emily deadpanned as she looked down at the pictures.
Lorelai laughed with surprise that her mother had actually joined in on the joking she and her father had started.
Richard was laughing too, enjoying the fact that Emily's wicked humor had caught their daughter off guard. It was good to see them so happy together.
"Oh, this one with the lilies and irises is lovely, Lorelai," Emily gushed.
Lorelai thanked the maid who had just returned from the kitchen and placed a cup of coffee and a plate with scrambled eggs, sausage, and a croissant in front of her.
"Which table linens did you finally decide on?" Emily asked as she continued to study the photos. "Lorelai?" Emily looked up and was shocked to see how pale her daughter had suddenly become. "Lorelai, are you okay?"
Lorelai nodded that she was okay then abruptly rushed from the table.
Emily rose and followed her. When she reached the downstairs bathroom, the door was partially open and she could hear the sounds of Lorelai being sick from inside. "Lorelai?" she called out as she slowly pushed back the door and stepped inside. Lorelai was clearly ill and struggling to keep her hair out of her face. Without a second thought, Emily went to Lorelai's side and gathered her daughter's hair back into one hand then began rubbing slow circles on her back with the other.
After a few minutes, Lorelai leaned back and tried to catch her breath. Emily took a glass out of the cabinet, filled it with water and handed it to Lorelai. "Thanks, Mom," she said taking the glass and rinsing out her mouth before taking a few tentative swallows.
"Everything okay?" Richard's voice called out from outside the bathroom.
Emily stepped closer to the door. "Would you get Lorelai some ginger ale? Oh and tell Julia to get one of the extra toothbrushes and some toothpaste, too."
"Of course," he answered and immediately set off to do as instructed.
Emily reached into the drawer next to the sink and got out a clean hand towel. She ran it under cold water and placed it soothingly against the back of Lorelai's neck. "Are you feeling any better?"
"Some," Lorelai answered. "I just don't know what happened. I was fine and then I looked down at those eggs and the smell and I just…"
"Mmm hmm," Emily said with a nod while giving Lorelai an appraising look.
"What?" Lorelai asked, evidently not getting whatever it was her mother was trying to say.
"And how have you been feeling lately?" Emily asked leadingly.
Lorelai took the damp towel and began to wipe her face and neck. "Mom, I don't feel good. Whatever it is, just say it," Lorelai replied plainly getting frustrated.
"I just know that whenever I was pregnant I couldn't get within ten feet of a plate of eggs," Emily blurted out a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.
"I'm not –" Lorelai was cut off by a knock on the door.
"I've got the ginger ale," Richard called from outside the bathroom again. Emily opened the door and took the glass of ginger ale from him. "I also brought the toothbrush, tooth paste, and some mouthwash in case you want it," he said giving Lorelai an encouraging smile. "Are you feeling any better?"
Lorelai took the glass of ginger ale from her mother. "Yeah, I think so. Thanks, Dad."
"Okay… well then… good to hear…I'll just…" he stammered while backing away.
Lorelai sat down on the now closed toilet seat and took a couple sips of the ginger ale. "I guess it's possible," she admitted quietly looking straight ahead and not making eye contact with her mother.
"Really?" Emily asked a touch of excitement creeping into her voice.
Lorelai ran her free hand through her hair. "Yeah, I guess. I've been trying not to really think about it, but the possibility is definitely there."
"Have you and Luke talked about having children?" Emily asked. Clearly Lorelai wasn't thrilled with the idea of becoming a mother again.
Lorelai looked up at her mother, "We did, before," she turned away again, "Well, before Luke knew about April. He wanted to be a dad, but I wasn't sure I wanted another baby."
"Well, it looks like that decision may have been made for you," Emily replied calmly, no hint of judgment in her tone.
Lorelai looked up at the ceiling. "Man, why is it that I can never get the timing right? We're getting married in five weeks. This couldn't happen after the wedding?" she asked with a groan.
"What difference does that make in the long run?" Emily asked.
Lorelai looked back at her in disbelief. "I can't believe you of all people just said that."
Emily shrugged. "You're a grown woman. You're getting married in a month. Who cares?"
Lorelai gazed at her mother while she digested this unexpected attitude and Emily's earlier statement came back to her. "Hey, what did you mean whenever you were pregnant? You were only pregnant once, right?" Emily looked away from her. "Right?"
Emily busied herself opening the toothbrush and toothpaste containers. "Lorelai, now is not the time for this conversation."
"Mom?" Lorelai said with concern.
Emily put the toothbrush and toothpaste on the counter. "Why don't you brush your teeth, and I'll ask Julia to fix you some tea and toast to settle your stomach." Her voice had the slightest quiver to it as she spoke.
Lorelai rose and took hold of her mother's arm to stop her from leaving. "Mom."
"I need to throw these away," she replied holding up the empty packages from the toothpaste and toothbrush in her hand. Her voice had taken on a much harsher, cold tone.
Lorelai released her and nodded. "Okay, but we're talking before I leave."
Emily didn't look back as she walked away.
Twenty minutes later, Lorelai was once again seated in her regular chair at the dining room table. All traces of breakfast had been cleared away. Emily was obviously avoiding her daughter by busying herself with everything she could think of, personally supervising the preparation of the prescribed tea and toast, seeing Richard off to work, and making a 'vital' phone call. Finally, Emily walked back into the dining room as Lorelai was finishing her second piece of dry toast and looked almost surprised to see her still there.
Lorelai gave her a forced smile. "Not going anywhere, Mom."
Emily entered and stopped behind her chair at the end of the table, resting her hands on the back. "So, what are you going to do? Get one of those test things?" she asked, clearly avoiding Lorelai's statement.
"I guess I have to," Lorelai answered, "but we'll get back to me later. I want to know what you meant before."
Emily looked down at the chair in front of her and took a deep breath.
Lorelai stood and approached her. "Mom, whatever it is, you can tell me." Lorelai watched as her mother's shoulders sagged and she continued to stare down at her hands gripping the back of the chair. "Come on, why don't we go sit in the living room?" Lorelai suggested.
"Lorelai, this really isn't the time to talk about this," Emily argued almost desperately.
"Look, I'm going to be making up all kinds of things in my head now anyway. You may as well tell me the truth," Lorelai countered.
"Fine," Emily replied, resignation and defeat audible in her tone.
Lorelai headed for the living room but paused in the doorway until it was clear that Emily was following her. She took a seat on the couch. Emily sat down in one of the armchairs. Lorelai waited quietly for her mother to start talking.
Emily folded her hands together in her lap, took a deep breath and began, "Lorelai, your father and I both wanted children very much. We were thrilled when we found out I was pregnant four months after we were married, but…" she broke off and looked down again before continuing, "it just wasn't meant to be. Back then the doctor didn't know what caused the miscarriage. He just told us to wait a few months and try again."
Lorelai really wanted to say something, but she didn't know what and she could tell that wasn't the whole story.
"I had two more miscarriages before I got pregnant with you. I'd almost given up hope. I was so scared through the entire pregnancy, worrying that everything might not be okay with you." Emily brought her gaze back to her daughter, "But there you were nine months later, my perfect little girl. My miracle baby. Your father and I were both so happy." Lorelai gave her mother a little smile which Emily mirrored before continuing. "I let myself hope that maybe things would be different, maybe now that I'd had one baby everything would be okay."
When Emily didn't continue right away Lorelai asked quietly "But it wasn't?"
"No," Emily answered. "I did get pregnant two more times, once when you were six, and the last time when…" she trailed off her voice starting to crack.
Lorelai looked at her mother and saw the sadness that she was fighting to control. She waited silently for Emily to continue in her own time.
Emily fought to master her emotions. There was no turning back; she'd have to tell her everything. When she spoke again her voice was like steel, "The last time when you were fifteen."
"Fifteen?" Lorelai repeated in a hushed tone as the full picture started to sink in.
"I lost the baby a month before you told us you were pregnant," she explained with an almost unnatural calm.
Lorelai was clearly still trying to make sense of this new information but already felt a deep sadness. Her tone was somber and pensive as she said, "I'm so sorry you and Dad had to go through all that."
Emily gave Lorelai what she hoped was an encouraging smile. "I'm sorry you had to hear it all now. It's not the type of thing someone in your condition needs to think about."
"We don't even know that I am," Lorelai countered.
Emily's smile grew bigger and it reached her eyes. "You are. I can tell."
Lorelai smiled too, and shook her head. "Well if you say so, it must be true. Who needs e.p.t. when you've got E.P.G.?"
Emily's eyes narrowed briefly as she tried to understand what her initials had to do with anything. Then she quickly decided it was just another of Lorelai's silly references and didn't matter. She leaned forward, pleased to turn her attention to the possibility of being a grandmother again. "Really, Lorelai, aren't you happy about the prospect of being a mother again?"
"I guess I just need to let the idea sink in a bit." She leaned back on the sofa and closed her eyes for a moment then gazed up at the ceiling. "I know Luke would be happy, and the idea of having a baby with him is nice. It would be completely different than it was with Rory, though."
Emily sat back in her chair and let her mind drift back. "It's a good kind of different though. Having your husband there with you every step of the way. I remember the first time your father held you; he was over the moon. And the first time you said Daddy, I thought that man was going to burst with joy." Lorelai gazed at her mother in wonder; she'd never really spoken to her about things like this before. "You deserve that kind of joy, Lorelai, and so does Luke."
Lorelai looked down at her lap and shrugged. "I guess one way or another Luke and I are going to have to have another talk about kids in the near future."
"That sounds like a good idea," Emily agreed, glad that Lorelai seemed to have warmed to the idea of another baby.
Lorelai glanced at the clock on the mantel behind Emily and announced, "I better get going. I promised Sookie we would go over the plans for the Benson anniversary party this morning."
They both stood and walked toward the foyer.
"You're sure you're okay to drive? You're not feeling nauseous anymore?" Emily fussed in typical motherly fashion.
"I'm fine, Mom," Lorelai replied as she picked up her purse from where the maid had placed it by the door. She turned back to Emily. "Thanks… for everything."
Emily nodded. "I want to know what that test says."
"I promise, I'll call and let you know after I take it," Lorelai assured her on the way out.
Emily watched Lorelai climb into her jeep and drive away then closed the door and leaned against it. A small smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. Having to relive those memories had been painful, but she was closer to her daughter than she had been in more than twenty-five years and it looked like there might be another grandchild in their future. One whose life she was not going to miss any of, those were both very good things. Very good indeed.
Notes: A big thank you to UnaVitaSegreta for her wonderful beta skills, encouragement and patience while I tried to come up with a title. If there are any remaining mistakes they're all mine.