This outtake was donated to Fandom for Preemies. We raised over $5k! The information can be found here:
fandomforpreemies . blogspot . com
I have added parts of the posted epilogue so you will know where this would fall into the story line.
I am honored to have contributed to this compilation.
"When you look into your mother's eyes, you know that is the purest love you can find on this earth."
~ Mitch Albom
~Excerpt: Almost Doesn't Count, Epilogue, Part 1
His arms wound around me, as I nuzzled his neck and smiled, knowing how much my second gift would really make his day.
"I love you too. Now open this one." I tucked my lips together under my teeth so my smile would not break my face in half.
He slowly removed the taped yellow paper and laid it on the table. I wanted to fuss at him to hurry up but I didn't, even though the anticipation was killing me!
He lifted the lid and piece by piece he pulled back the thin tissue paper. I found myself leaning forward and trying to peek inside the small rectangle box and I already knew what was in it!
His hands froze as he pulled away the last folded piece of paper.
"Bella?" he said aloud but his voice cut out.
I turned in his lap to whisper in his ear, "It says 'positive'."
"Bella?" His voice was louder now. "You're not shittin' me, are you?"
I slowly shook my head.
Suddenly, he jumped up with the pregnancy test still in his hand and spun us around with his arms wrapped around me. Then he quickly put me down and murmured, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
He dropped to his knees and kissed my stomach over and over. I ran my fingers through his hair and held his head close to my belly.
He looked up at me and his eyes sparkled with tears as they pooled against his green irises. "Really?" He whispered in awe.
"Yes," I nodded my head, trying not to cry, "but just barely."
I knew all too well that some things in life weren't for certain, things like the weather, the stock market, and your health. Even being a women for some meant the sureness and ease of pregnancy and labor, but not for me. For some unknown reason, that just didn't seem to be in my cards.
When I showed Edward my positive pee stick three weeks ago, on our second anniversary, I knew I was gambling with fate and I knew better. I should've never told him until those first fragile months had passed, but I took my chances anyway and I lost.
I was eleven weeks when I miscarried.
Now I felt hollow. Incomplete.
But more so than the emptiness that spiraled deep within my soul, was the sorrow I harbored for Edward.
You'd think I'd be a pro at this since I'd done it once before.
Then, when I was pregnant, I'd hoped that Asher was going to be the saving grace for my marriage, forcing Mike and I to bond in way that would put our rocky past behind us and move forward. But when I lost Asher, I felt like I was the only who was hurting. My thoughts were soon confirmed, Mike never really cared.
Losing Edward's baby was so much more heartbreaking. It was something that I hoped I could give him – the perfect blend of him and myself, a true union of two souls. And I had failed. My body couldn't hold up to the task and I doubted I ever would be able to do so.
Or that I even wanted to try again.
That truth was hard to swallow.
We'd talked about our options, adopting again or maybe even being foster parents, and I wasn't against either one. I just couldn't get over the consuming need to bear my own child, our child. That longing was rooted deep within me.
I wanted it more than anything.
It was the only wish in my life that hadn't come true yet.
Every time I saw the sadness lingering in Edward's eyes or the anguish in his brow, I broke all over again. I wanted to be able to erase his pain, not add to it.
The way he looked at me, it was like he knew of the storm of emotions that I kept bottled up, and God bless his soul, he'd just hold me. He wrapped me tight against him and let me cry until my tears were dry and I lost my voice. Many nights, we'd fall asleep that way, his shirt fisted in my hands and wet with my sobs. He tried to soothe me and promised me over and over that everything would be all right, but I just didn't know how I'd ever be able to fill that newly formed sunken pit in my soul.
I tried my best to hold myself together, especially around Ethan. He was too young to understand. After the first time he asked me why I was crying, his bottom lip pouted out, and his own tears gathered in his eyes, I vowed to not let him see me sad anymore.
He'd crawl up in my lap and twirl his tiny fingers in my hair. He'd rest his head on my chest and I'd let my sorrow melt away, along with the rest of the world. I'd live in the moment, I'd squeeze him a little too tight and he'd squirm to get loose. Then I'd close my eyes and pray. I'd pray that if this was as good as it gets, if Ethan was the only child Edward and I ever had, that I'd accept it. That I'd even be happy about it. That I'd never feel regret, or bitterness, or remorse. That someday soon, I'd smile again at the sun and let it warm me from the inside out and my heart would be so full of joy, that I wondered if it might burst into a million pieces.
It'd been sixteen weeks since 'that day.' We were staying in Forks with Carlisle for a few weeks, and Emmett and Rose were coming into town to celebrate Carlisle's birthday. We hadn't seen Rose or Em in over a year. They were married and living in Chicago. We were all just so busy with life. I talked to her after 'it' happened, she offered to come and stay with me if I needed her to. I told her the truth, I didn't need her – I had Edward and Ethan and they were all I needed.
This morning I'd woken up to another bed sheet ruined with my blood. My stupid broken body couldn't figure out what in the hell it was doing. Some days I bled so bad and the pain was so crippling that I was confined to lying around with a heating pad on my lower stomach.
The bleeding was never predictable, and just after I'd have a few good days and be relieved that it seemed to be finally over, it'd start all over again.
Edward would give me that look, the one where he wanted to scold me because I hadn't yet called the specialist that Carlisle said I should go and see. The look that warned me if I didn't make the call, he was going to. The look that simply meant he loved me and wanted to see me get better.
After showering and stripping the sheets, I pulled the card from my wallet and my cell from my purse and I called. I had an appointment in a month. Honestly, I was putting it off for four more weeks hoping that between now and then, I'd be able to cancel because I was... better.
Two hours later, Ethan came running past me in the kitchen. "Em! Em!" He shouted as he slid across the tile floor in his sock feet.
I laughed and followed him into the foyer. I stood back in the entry way and watched as Edward opened the door. He hugged Emmett and then Em stepped to the side and Rose came into view. Her arms slowly rose to hug Edward, but suddenly my world stopped spinning.
She was pregnant. Very, very pregnant. Her beautiful, round stomach protruded forward so much, I wondered how she could even walk.
I didn't know... and every one must have kept it from me.
I wanted to congratulate her, and rub her tummy, and giggle as I felt the baby kick my hand. I didn't want to hate her like I did at that second. I didn't want to retreat to my bed and close my eyes and wish away the pain. I wanted what she had.
Then inside my soul, my flood gates opened up and I was drowning.
I couldn't break down in front of them. I didn't want the pity that they were already giving me. I had to do this. I couldn't avoid perfect, healthy, pregnant women the rest of my life.
So I did just that, I pretended all damn day that I was so happy for them two. I gushed and goo-ed at everything they said. I let a tear fall when they hugged me and apologized for mine and Edward's loss. I smiled and laughed when I thought I should and I held Ethan every chance I could. He was the best defense of them all.
When they finally retreated to their room that night, I let myself succumb to the darkness. Not the one that was brought on by the setting of the sun. The one engulfed my heart and made me ache in every crevice of my soul.
The darkness that I couldn't escape from.
* o0o0o0 *
The grass was soft under my feet. It reminded me of that first time I met Esme in Forks. And the sky wasn't as blue as I remember, it was somehow much more colorful. The reds clung to the edge of the horizon and the purples meshed with the yellows and it took my breath away.
I felt the sun on my bare skin. It was warm and it almost tickled as the golden light shone down on me.
The smell in the air, I couldn't place what it was. The only way I could describe it was that it smelled like love and happiness.
I looked around and I appeared to be alone, but I didn't feel apprehensive. I was comfortable and at ease.
The grass rolled on as far as I could see. It dipped and rose into small hills and valleys, and the landscape seemed to smile at me.
There was a peaceful, steady breeze that sometimes rippled the grass and made my hair swirl. I noticed one lone tree that had a small shadow swaying under it. It was too far way to make any of it out clearly, even after cupping my hands over my brow to shield the light, it was still out of focus. I raised my hand and waved.
I noticed there were red dots in the far away tree, but I couldn't see the details. Was it apples? I decided to walk toward the tree and get a better view. Yet, as I walked the tree seemed to move father away. I took off in a sprint and I noticed how the green under my feet blurred, but I wasn't getting any closer.
Just then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement and I heard giggles. Loud ones. Laughs so loud, that it vibrated through my bones and tickled my ribs.
I stopped running and began to chuckle too. These giggles were contagious. I fell down to the velvety grass and wrapped my arms around myself as I bent over with amusement.
Then, I saw him. He was beautiful. His blonde hair glowed against the colorful backdrop and the light of the sun burst out from behind him. He looked to be about eight years old and he had on a white button up shirt and white shorts. His shirt was neatly pressed and tucked perfectly into his shorts. As he got closer his eyes were so blue, that I gasped. The sparse clouds overhead reflected in his eyes, and I swore I was looking straight into Heaven.
When he was almost close enough to touch, I felt another presence beside me. I quickly turned my head to the opposite direction and there was another boy standing beside me. He was maybe a year younger than the blonde-haired one. He was dressed the same, but he looked different. His eyes made the grass I was sitting on look dull in comparison and the vibrancy of his hair put the reds in the sky to shame.
I looked back and forth to the two boys who were now standing on each side of me, and I felt contentment. There wasn't a trace of sorrow or anguish anywhere in this place.
Then they both touched me, their hands gently laying on my bare forearms. I closed my eyes and somehow I just knew. I knew who these two boys were and the joy and love that flooded through me made me laugh again.
Asher sunk to his knees beside me. "Hello Mama," he said, although his lips never moved.
So I spoke to him through my mind as well."Hello baby. I've missed you. Mama misses you everyday." I ran my fingers through his blonde hair. I wanted to embrace him, to curl him up in my arms and ever let him go.
Then, the other boy's voice ran through my mind, and I turned to face him. He looked so much like Edward, that joyous tears stung my eyes. "Hello Mama." His sweet voice was like a lullaby to my soul.
I reached up and cupped his cheek. "You look so much like your father. You're so handsome." I thought. "I've missed you both, so much."
Even though only in spirit, these two boys were a part of me. I loved them as though they had been with me all along. I always had loved them.
I held each one of their hands and we laid back on the grass. "Luke," the name lingered in my mind and I looked over at the child with the auburn hair. "You were going to name me Luke." He smiled.
"You're right. Luke, it means bringer of light. It's perfect for you." I silently said.
Then I spoke the words aloud for everything around me to hear; the clouds, the grass, the sky, and the single tree with the red dots and the shadow underneath it, "I wish Edward and Ethan were here."
Then Asher and Luke snickered and whispered in harmony, "Someday."
The thought didn't scare me, if anything it gave me something to look forward too.
I never wanted to leave this place. The completeness I was experiencing and the healing of my wounded spirit made me feel so fulfilled...
It was paradise.
Asher sat up and the light around him began to dim. "You have to go back."
Luke followed, hovering over me as he sat on his knees in the grass. "They need you. This needs you," he placed his small, warm hand on my empty stomach.
Then I felt a flutter inside me, it was like a flip of a pancake or a tumble of a bouncy ball.
The boys covered their mouths as they giggled and I couldn't help but laugh along with them.
"Really?" I thought as I put my hand on my belly, that maybe wasn't so empty anymore.
"This time, it's good." Luke thought and his eyes twinkled.
"Don't be sad anymore, Mama. We're always with you. Right here." Both boys placed their hands on my heart that was beating rapidly.
I nodded and put my hands over theirs. "Never again," I thought.
"This is from Meme," Asher thought as he handed me the most beautiful red rose I'd ever seen.
"Esme?" I said aloud.
The boys turned to look at the figure under the tree. I could now see her hair blowing with the gentle breeze, she wasn't just a shadow.
Then her small hand raised up and her fingers wiggled at me.
"Esme." I choked out again.
She hovered in the distance, not coming closer, just watching us. I just knew she was there. She'd always been there and I figured, she always would be.
I watched as the boys began to run and play around me. I still heard their thoughts as they played and fell to the soft ground and rose again to continue.
"Meme plays with us everyday."
"She's beautiful like you."
"Roses are her favorite."
"She says she can't wait til Pops gets here."
They ran around for what had to be hours, but the sun never moved from its hanger in the sky.
I was still holding the rose in my hand. I noticed the stem had no thorns, just magnificent, delicate petals and the vibrant red was staining my fingertips.
Luke ran over to me and touched the flower as it laid in my palm. It fluttered against my skin, then I blinked and when I opened my eyes, instead of the rose, a beautiful butterfly rested in my hand. His wings expanded and swayed in my hand. Then he flew, circling us before letting the wind carry him away.
The boys both yawned and then looked from me to Esme and then back to me. "Remember, no more sadness Mama," Asher thought as he touched my hair around my face.
I knew it almost time for me to go, but I still didn't feel sad, I was excited.
"We're always with you and we'll always be." Luke thought.
The sun was now moving at warped speed, it was getting dark so fast I thought I might get lost.
"We'll be waiting." Their voices echoed as the sun moved to hide beyond the rolling countryside.
I could no longer see them, but I still felt their warmth and their love.
Then as faint as a whisper, their melodious voices sang together, "Smile. Love. Live. No more sadness, Mama."
* o0o0o0 *
"Bella? Bella, wake up."
The sunlight glowed through the window and made me squint as I opened my eyes.
"Hey sleeping beauty," Edward leaned over me and his lips were wet against mine. "You feeling any better?"
He sat down on the bed beside me, and tried to tame my hair tangled on my head.
I nodded as I stretched.
"You laughed all night long. Did you have a good dream?"
The events of the past few hours washed over and I smiled again. "I did. It was... perfect."
Edward picked up my hand from the bed and brought it to his pink lips. As he kissed it, I noticed my finger tips were stained red.
I didn't care about reality or dreams.
'No more sadness,' I thought.
Right then and there, I felt something inside my belly flip-flop again, I would have bet my last dollar on it.
I giggled and Edward gave me a funny look. "You wanna give me one of whatever your taking? I mean, just last night after seeing Rose..."
"No. Really. I feel so much better, Edward. I finally feel like everything's going to be all right."
"Hmm? I hope so." He whispered as he settled in beside me on the bed.
"Do we have to get up?" I asked and pulled his arms around me tighter.
"Mama! Daddee! " Ethan shouted as he ran and jumped on the bed with Edward and I.
We all three snuggled together under the covers. Edward tickled Ethan's feet and he screamed and twisted and turned. Then after our sides ached from laughing so much, we all relaxed and cuddled. Ethan reached up and laid his tiny little hand on my cheek, the look on his face was so serious, "No more sadness Mama." Then he grinned and his eyes twinkled.
I closed my eyes and kissed the top of his head as he placed his hand on my maybe-empty-maybe-not belly.
"No, Ethan, no more."
Excerpt: Almost Doesn't Count Epilogue, Part 1
Baby Lillie Grace's cries faded to a whine as they wrapped her up in a pink blanket and handed her to her mother. Edward was standing over Bella, his face reflecting the pure joy he was experiencing. Bella handed him the small, pink bundle and he cradled her close to his body with the protection of a father lion.
This had been a long time coming for these two kids. Fourteen months ago Bella miscarried again, and she'd all but given up, finally believing what the doctor had told her years ago; she'd never be able to have one of her own. She told me that losing two babies in a lifetime was enough for her, and she couldn't fathom trying again. Truth be told, she and Edward would be quite content with Ethan being their only child.
After her last miscarriage, she asked me to refer her to a specialist for her inconsistent menstrual cycles. I gave her the name of one of my colleagues and left it at that. Come to find out she got busy at work and didn't go see her until many months later. During her visit she received some news that was hard for her to believe. She was almost twenty weeks pregnant - the critical months already behind her. She was put on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy, just to ensure she could carry to term. I insisted she, Edward, and Ethan come stay with me at the house. Bella had no business traipsing up and down those steps at their apartment. Edward felt bad that he had yet to buy them a home, but life had just gotten too busy.
"Pops, did you see? Did you see? Lillie's here." Ethan said as he tugged on my hand and then sat down on my lap. Mrs. Cope had just brought him back to the room now that the delivery was over.
"Yes Ethan. Isn't she beautiful?" I asked. Even though he was almost too big I picked him up and we joined everyone at her bedside.
"Pops, she is. She's pretty like Mama," Ethan answered.
Bella must have heard him because she looked up at Ethan and winked. "Ethan why don't you sit here with me on the bed so that Daddy can let Pop's hold Lillie for a minute."
And I don't know what it was about holding that little baby girl. Maybe it was that I saw some of Esme in her cute pudgy nose, or maybe it was that I was reminded how long it had been since the boys were this small. But I do know that as I had wondered how I could love another so much, my heart already so full – this tiny miracle crawled inside my soul and my spirit overflowed with tears of happiness.
"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."
A/N: The thing with the pregnancy-envy, that happened to me (I was the one being hated on) & so did the dream about the roses.
Maybe 2 more outtakes... someday.
I don't think I can express how grateful I am for all the love ADC had received since I completed it!