Cora knocked on the door to Mary and Math…to Mary's room. She heard a soft 'come in' from her eldest daughter and opened the door. Mary was on the bed holding her son in her arms. Cora could see he was sleeping as she sat down beside Mary. Matthew had been laid to rest yesterday and this morning Anna had come downstairs with alarm in her voice. She was worried about Lady Mary was all she said. Cora had headed to Mary's room more concerned about her daughter than she had been in recent days.
"Anna mentioned you were not well this morning." Cora told her. Mary nodded.
"She's right." Mary's voice was horse as if she was holding back tears. She swallowed and tried to smile at her mother.
"My dear, it is alright to cry. It is alright to feel defeated. No one will hold it against you," Cora whispered and pushed the wisps of hair away from Mary's face. Mary had been so strong through all of it. She held her head high and no one, not even Anna, saw her cry. Dr. Clarkson had told the family she had been distraught when they told her the news, but she seemed above it all for now. Cora worried constantly about what would happen once the mask broke.
"I'm afraid if I start, I won't be able to stop," Mary shook her head. Her voice was unsteady.
"Have you decided on a name?"
"Are you going to call him Matthew?" Cora asked. Mary handed the baby to Cora and stood up. She paced back and forth for a few moments. When she looked at Cora her eyes were full of anger and tears.
"No because he isn't Matthew! Matthew is dead and he left me here! Oh Momma sometimes I hate him so much for leaving me there that day! We were finally going to be a family. I was finally going to have a family! Everyone keeps asking if I'll name him Matthew but Matthew was a man! He was my husband! They say I should be so glad I have him, this little piece of Matthew, but I want Matthew. I want him back!" Mary dissolved into sobs at her mother's feet. Cora put a hand on Mary's shoulder. Her own eyes filled with tears.
"I know, my darling. I know you want him back. We all do." Mary's choked sobs filled the room and the baby stirred. Cora quickly got up and rang the bell for nanny. The woman came quickly and took the little boy. Cora went back to her daughter and pulled her up off the floor on to the bed.
"Momma, he was so wonderful. He always was. He always saw the best in me and wanted me to be my best even when I was being wicked and mean. I'm so spiteful and everything hurts. I have this little tiny thing to take care of, but I don't know how to do it. Not without Matthew." She continued to cry and shake.
Cora tightened her arms around her daughter. There had been so much heartache in their home. It seemed almost cruel twist of fate that Matthew survived the war and his injury only to die on the day his son was born.
"I wasted so much time. We could have had ten children by now if I hadn't been so stubborn!" Mary cried even harder at the thought. Cora knew Mary had to let it all out. There was nothing to do that would bring Matthew back, change history or ease the heartache Mary felt.
"My dear, Matthew loved you very much. You know that and that little boy will someday give you a way to remember him. He died very very happy. You don't have to name him Matthew. You can choose anything you want," Cora comforted her and rubbed her back at the cries became quieter. Mary slowly calmed down and she pulled away from her mother's embrace to wipe her eyes. She took several deep breaths.
"And I'll have to keep going won't I? Days will keep coming and Matthew will still be gone every morning when I wake up."
"Yes." Mary looked at Cora. Her eyes, big and brown, were still full of tears and sadness.
"Will I ever feel happy again? Is it right to be happy when he is gone?" she asked.
"I think Tom is proof that you can be happy again and that you need to try to be happy again. The pain will fade but your love for Matthew will always be strong." Cora smiled and a smile crept onto Mary's face too. They heard the baby cry again and Mary rushed out of the room to the nursery.
Later that day Mary walked out into the garden where Tom was playing with little Sybil. She sat down on the grass with them and smiled as the little girl stumbled about trying to learn to walk.
"Tom do you think, well, are you happy? Have you ever been happy since my sister died? Is the baby enough like everyone says?" Mary asked. Tom looked away from her and over at the little girl. She could see his chin tremble a bit before he spoke.
"I'm happy every time I look at her and I have good memories of her mother. All the good memories stick out instead of the bad. I never thought I would be happy again, and sometimes I'm still mad with grief, but she keeps me going. At first it seemed like she wouldn't be enough but she was and I have all of you now too. I am happy and I have to stay strong, for her." He nodded over at the toddler and Mary smiled at him. For the first time since Matthew died she had hope that happiness would return and she would feel joy once again.