In our last chapter, we unfortunately lost Sylvia, Cindy’s mother sacrifice the remainder of her life to protect her daughter and her friend. Kara wounded and yet managed to protect Cindy. The family came together, not only the Meyers, Thurgoods and Edwards, but also JJ’s adoptive family, all came together to help Kara and Daniel make it through the traumatic events.
Kara released two days later, under strict doctor’s orders not to exert herself. Nevertheless, she told the doctor she was going to attend the funeral of her friend Sylvia, come hell or high water. Sylvia had no other family, so our family arranged for her funeral. Funerals are never for the dead, there for us living to say goodbye. That was a difficult goodbye. Reverend Akins did a very good job with the eulogy. We had a chair brought to the graveside for Kara although she insisted on walking to it. Daniel actually carried a sobbing Kara away from the grave after the funeral.
Life always has its difficulties, and this definitely is one of the worst times. If you hold on long enough life always turns around, things get better. Occasionally you cannot see that for the mist that obscures your vision at the bottom. Eventually even that clears, sometimes the road ahead is difficult sometimes it fills with family and joy.
The Ten of Them: chapter 27 Composed by hard93 and Dimek
We all held on to each other, we let the love for each other comfort and console us. It did not take long for Cindy to become her Mom’s best nurse, Sam and Crystal would always help too. When Kara would become frustrated and want to move around, one of the girls would bring her something for her to read to them. Reading a story to them usually kept Kara in bed for a little longer until Daniel would be there to keep her company. Kara and Daniel stayed with us for a few weeks during her early recovery. Even the Coach and Helen slept in my house to be near their daughter we had almost lost.
After two weeks Kara’s Doctor released her to go back to her normal activities, but warm not to be over strenuous with her exercises. They left for home that afternoon with the three girls going along to help where they could. She was going to need some physical therapy but her wound healed nicely, they used a small incision and she had just a small scar on her mid-thigh of her left leg.
Daniel had taken the dime the doctor removed from Kara’s femur, along with an x-ray taken of her leg, a certified statement from the surgeon who removed the dime, a copy of the police report, he compiled all the evidence if needed for Kara’s defense.
Several of the tenets of the apartment building where Sylvia lived, made a YouTube video and they spoke of what they witnessed. One even had a cellphone video showing him breaking in, leveling the shotgun and moving it as he aimed and fired. From the angle outside, you see bits of lamp that Daniel hit him with fly through the door. He step further in when he attacked Daniel, only moments later to be flying back out the door and struck his head on the banister of the walkway. His head pops forward into his chest that stops his backward momentum and he slides down the railing onto the walkway. I am sure that was what contributed to his death. If he had landed flat, he probably would be still alive today.
The next thing you see is the shotgun placed under his chin, and Daniel standing over him in the doorway. From the look on Daniel’s face, he realizes that he was dead, before he turns back to the grisly scene inside.
Sylvia’s neighbors speak out against the DA who was attending to investigate if Kara could have used less force in subduing her attacker. Many in the apartment building claim Kara as a hero to the community. The video goes viral, even without Kara’s face seen on the video. The State Attorney General releases a statement saying it had become clear that because of the way he fell Kara did not intend for his death to occur, releasing her of all wrongdoing.
The family breathes a collective sigh of relief upon learning what the statement says. Charles chuckles and says, “If they tried Kara, it would reverse the right for self-defense in the state. That is something they are not willing to do. Politically it would be suicide, and look like the state was pro-crime.”
It was a few weeks after everything settle down when Kara finally was able to return to school and the martial arts class. When she walked into the room, followed by Kathryn, Sam, Crystal and Cindy she got a standing round of applause. This had an effect on her that I did not expect. Kara almost broke down into tears.
"JJ can I address the class before you start us up” asked Kara. I had a feeling something was on her mind so I gave permission to proceed.
"Guys I want to thank you for your support, however this incident I was involved in has taught me many things. First watch how much force you use when taking someone down, too much force and you can seriously hurt someone, only use what is necessary. A few weeks ago, I killed a man. I reacted, I did not think, my body was on an adrenaline rush; in a rash bit of self-defense I killed a man. I was lucky that if I had been more knowledgeable of martial arts skills I could have been charged for manslaughter, so please guys watch what you do and how you use what you learn."
Kara stopped and looked at me; I nodded and picked up where she left off. "Listen guys and girls the fact is that martial arts can be classified as a deadly weapon. If a person has high enough skill, if you were to seriously injure or kill someone with your skills, the self-defense excuse may not always work, martial arts is about discipline, and if I find out anyone is abusing these skills you will be kicked out of the class."
Janet questions, "Does that mean you are kicking out Kara? From what I understand she was acting in self-defense, hell she was shot."
I looked at Kara and noticed the glare I got back from her, but I picked up where I left off. "No, Kara is not being kicked out of the class she was completely justified, although I am limiting her future activities in class to no contact, no punching or kicking because of her medical condition."
Kara still standing at the head of the class explains, "Guys what happened was self-defense, I was shot, and I acted. I had to protect Cindy here my new daughter. Cindy was in my arms and we were his intended target, Sylvia jumped between us, she saved Cindy’s and my life at the same time. Sylvia was my best friend. I was so afraid, not just for myself but for Sylvia and Cindy, adrenaline overpowered my kick. It was more powerful then what would have been normal. All I am saying is that we all have to try using common sense when using the skills that JJ is teaching. Now for me, being limited for medical conditions now is open for debate, but I might as well let the cat out of the bag since rumors spread fast anyway. I am pregnant...”
The class was totally silent except for me hearing Kathryn trying to hold back a small giggle, While Sam, Crystal and Cindy just smiled widely until Kara continues, “And it would seem my husband did a real good job with it as I am having twins."
Janet was the first to say, “Congrats Kara. However Now I have a question. JJ what is the point of learning self-defense if we can get in trouble defending ourselves?”
Using what knowledge I have of the law I reply, “Good point Janet and this is one that is always a sticky one. Everyone has a right to defend himself or herself, however, there is a limit. You cannot intentionally kill the attacker. The objective is to subdue an attacker with the least amount of force, without endangering yourself. Too much force and you can be looking at trouble with the law, but that might be preferable to being dead. Of course there may be other factors and different circumstances, like Kara’s circumstance, but the main goal is subdue your attacker so that they are no longer a threat at the time."
The debate went on for a while but we finally got back into the lesson. After the lesson was over, I was standing back as I watched a few of the girl students walk up, hug Kara, and congratulate her. I walked over to Kathryn and gave her a hug and a kiss.
I ask, "Is there something wrong with Kara?"
Kathryn says, "Yes but I think it is something that we need to discuss at home. Cindy has told me a few things that she has noticed. I think we should invite Mom and Dad over as well, Kara and Daniel were coming over."
I say, “Okay sounds good, just let me get cleaned up here then we can be on our way."
An hour later, we were home and relaxing when Helen and Coach walked in.
Kathryn says, "Hi Mom, Dad."
The Coach greets Kathryn, “Hay baby, how it is going?"
Kathryn says "Not bad for me, but I need your help. It is Kara. Cindy and Daniel have both confided in me that Kara has been having Nightmares, is hardly sleeping, and is often crying. They are both at a loss of what to do. I am worried that if she keeps going the way she is she will lose her babies, which would be devastating to her. Daniel is going to bring her over so we can sit down and talk to her and try to get things to normal."
I realize what Kathryn is talking about is posttraumatic stress syndrome, and some of my adoptive family deal with that. It might be a good idea to bring them in on this conversation as well. Perhaps their insight may help Kara, more than anything else at least she will know that she is not alone. I call Ron and Reese, Mitch and Charles; they all agree and come over immediately.
Helen says, "We will do anything we can to help." A few minutes later Kara and Daniel come in. Kathryn gets up and goes to Kara and hugs her, then leads her by her hand and sits Kara down between their Mom and Dad`. Kara has a confused look on her face.
Kathryn, while holding back tears says, “Kara. We Love you. Please tell us what is wrong. Cindy and Daniel both are concerned for you; it is your nightmares, your breaking down and crying, your lack of sleep. We are here for you." Kara looked at Kathryn, then her parents, and then she broke down.
"I killed a man. I know he was an evil man and he killed Sylvia. However, I killed him. I took a life. How can any of you even stand to be around me, a killer?" she said no longer holding back her sobs.
Reese and Ron arrived just in time to hear her say that, Reese going to Kara kneels down in front of her lifts her face forcing Kara to look her directly in the eyes. Reese asks, “Do you feel the same way about me?” Kara instantly shakes her head no. Reese gives her no more time before she continues, “I have killed a lot more than just one person, and I am not sure if they were good or bad. I do know they were trying to kill me, and the people I love. I did not have a choice. You did not have a choice.”
Ron looking over his wife’s shoulder asks, “Am I a killer to be shunned?” Kara again shook her head no. Ron continued, “I did my best to defend the ones I was to protect. That is all you did, I know from what I have seen, what JJ has told me the kick you used was not the cause of his death directly. The way he fell caused his death; the location he chose for the fight was the cause of his death. Kara you have nothing to feel guilty about, you protected the ones you love.”
Helen says, "Kara, honey, listen. You did the right thing. Moreover, for that I am so proud of you. I know I do not say it often enough or show it. Even though I am so proud of the way, you were helping Sylvia the last while before her death. The way you have been there for Cindy before and now as well, you finding yourself a good man. Finally, you bringing me two more grandchildren in the near future. All this has made me extremely proud of you. Then again I have always been proud of you, and all my children." As she rubbed Kara’s belly she continued, " You need to think of these two new lives growing inside of you, the fact that you show guilt and remorse over killing that 'man' shows you are human and full of compassion, even for someone who does not deserve it."
Coach says, "Your Mom’s right Kara. You have made us both very proud, and again as your mother has said we may not have always shown it but we have always been proud of you,"
Helen says, "JJ, Kathryn and I had a talk the day you got shot. JJ brought to light some things that you and your other sisters have been feeling. I know it seems I have been spoiling or favoring Kathryn, and that you and your other sisters felt unappreciated or felt that we did not love you or were as proud of you as we are of Kathryn. Know this; nothing could be further from the truth. However, your father and I are working on changing your impression. I know we spend a lot of time here at Kathryn and JJ's, and that gives off a bad impression as well, but I promise that we will be over to see you and Daniel more as well. In fact we will be spending more time with all you kids, trying to repair our relationships."
Coach reached down and put his hand on Helen's hand, which was still on Kara’s belly. The Coach says, "Like your sister, you are gifting us with two more grandchildren to love and spoil, it will never matter who had babies first or who was born last, every one of them will be loved equally, never again will we show signs of favoritism. You just take care of yourself."
Kathryn kneeling down beside Reese says, “Kara, I love you my sister. However, what you have to understand you did not have a choice, and there is nothing wrong in protecting your love ones.” She turns and faces Reese and says, “You too, you protected the ones you love.” Now holding both their gaze she continues, “If you had not they would be dead. Think how you would feel if you had stood by and done nothing, you know deep down you did nothing wrong, it is time to move on. We love you my sisters we will help you get through this.”
Reese looking at Kara again says, “I know this is not something that will end now, it is something we will have to live with and deal with. It is part of being human. If you ever need someone to talk to, you know I will understand. Your family loves you; none of us think you are evil for doing only what you needed to do to protect the ones you love.”
Kathryn says, “Out of all my sisters Kara you and I are the closest, I feel that we share a bond that none of the other sisters do, I am not sure why but it is there." With that, Kathryn pulled Kara up into a hug. Reese hugs the two, and then the Coach and Helen stood up and surrounded Reese, Ron and their daughters in a big family hug. Daniel came over to me, shook my hand then thought better, and gave me a brotherly hug, as that is what I felt he is a true brother.
Daniel says “Thanks JJ, Kathryn, Mom, Dad, Ron, and Reese. I think your words may have helped heal my wife, my soul mate, we may not yet have the kind of bond that Kathryn and JJ do yet, but I know it’s coming, we already sort of read each other’s emotions, this is why I knew Kara was troubled."
I say, “It’s no problem Daniel. Kara remember what everyone here has said. We all love you. Now love yourself again, you too Reese. You feeling guilt is the best thing, it means you’re not a monster, just a kind, compassionate, caring young woman."
Ron chuckles, “She is that, once you get her out of her armor.” He gets a kiss from Reese even after his little joke.
Kara says, “Thanks guys, I guess I needed this. Thank you all. Mom and Dad, you do not know how happy you have made me knowing that you are happy and proud of me. There were times I was so jealous of Kathryn, I almost ran away. I am glad I did not. Daniel thanks for dragging my sulking butt over here. It’s what I needed, I think I can finally start putting this behind me and move on, after all we have Cindy now plus two more on the way."
I ask, "Are you guys going to find out the sexes beforehand?"
Kara says “Yes in a couple weeks I have an appointment, with the same Obstetrician that Kathryn uses. We want to know what to paint the nursery."
“Kara what I said in class today I meant it as well. I think you should only do the katas, in a month you will be almost three months along and really showing. You having twins on your small frame is going to be hard on your body; you need to think about your babies."
Kara says, "I know, and as much as it disappoints me I know your right.”
Kathryn points out, "Wait till you have to give up sex, I bet with twins it will be sooner than when I had to."
Kara giggles and says, “Gee thanks sis, something to look forward to. That and in a few months trying to find a prom dress that will fit."
Now laughing Kathryn says, “Wait until Graduation Sis, when you have to waddle across the stage to get your diploma."
“Waddle! Why you..." then Kara stopped and laughed and grabbed her sister in a big hug. It was nice seeing the two sisters being closer than ever.
Reese giggles, “I just hope I have delivered before your graduation, or you will really watch some body waddle around.”
Daniel says, “Well Guys I think we need to go pick up Cindy and get home. Thanks again JJ and Kathryn, Ron and Reese, Mom, Dad. Kara and Daniel left followed shortly after by Helen and the Coach.
I say, “That went good, and you and your sister have really become close, it makes me happy,"
Ron says, “It was only the first step, Kara has a long road to walk yet.”
Charles and Mitch had arrived and allowed us to talk without interrupting, Mitch says, “Kara seems to be doing well considering, although she may just be putting on a show to make you feel better. We will have to give her our support, and our understanding what she is going through does not end overnight. It has been three years and I still have nightmares. It may not be that bad for Kara, and I truly hope so. Although we will have to always, be mindful of Kara, her triggers once we learn them, and help her deal with it. Sometimes it does not end, and that can be frustrating, sometimes anger is misplaced and many veterans never knew why they feel the way they do.”
Kathryn shakes her head yes after considering Mitch’s remarks she says, “Yes, we will do that for Kara. Kara and I have always been somewhat close, though she did surprise me that she said she almost ran away once. I never knew she felt like that. However, those days are over, Mom and Dad are gung ho on fixing the relationship with my sisters and brothers; it is good to see the family coming together, though I will always feel closer to Kara then the others. I do not think Kara realizes how much I always looked up to her; she was never as wild as the others were. You remember the night of that party, the night we finally made love. The same night Kara was trying to offer herself to you. She told me a while back she was glad it did not happen. She was able to save herself for her soul mate. Before that I always assumed she was like Michelle and Maria and just having sex with different guys, I never knew she was a virgin till her and Daniel got together, I was wrong."
With a smile, I reply, “Out of all your sisters Kara is the one I feel closest to as well. In addition, I too am glad she found her soul mate but like you, I never suspected that she was a virgin for Daniel. Guess that makes it even more special for the two of them." A few minutes’ later Crystal and Sam came wandering from the playhouse.
Sam with bright eyes says, “Daddy what you guys said to Aunt Kara must have worked, she was happy. Aunt Kara tickled Cindy. Cindy said that was the first time in a long time that Aunt Kara played with her like that.”
Crystal asks, “Daddy, Friday night Cindy has invited us over to spend the night with her, can we go please?”
Kathryn smiles and I know she has given her okay. I reply putting on a sad face, “I am going to miss my big girls. They are going away tomorrow night. I guess I will just have to cuddle up really close to Kathryn.” Sam and Crystal giggle at my little show, they do know that is just an act and it is my way of telling them it is okay.
Things seem to improve for Kara, although we did take Mitch’s advice, we watch for things that would trigger her mood changes. We were careful about mentioning Sylvia, we found Kara had two other triggers, one was a shotgun the other a dime. We did our best to avoid Kara’s triggers and that gave her a little time to decompress.
Kara also began working with a psychologist specializing in posttraumatic stress syndrome, Mitch also began going to the same psychologists. His name was Doctor Marcus and he seemed to be a very capable psychologists. Both Kara and Mitch began to improve, Kara who had dealt with it not as long seem to improve quicker. Charles remarked that Mitch had fewer nightmares and was beginning to smile more. I wonder if that was because I saw him with MC so often, perhaps between Doctor Marcus and MC, Mitch’s life would become happier.
After Kathryn’s Obstetrician had done some adjustment, Kathryn and Misty both have due dates of March 21st. Kathryn and I both know that foresight is seldom 20/20, so in March 1st came and went without Kathryn or Misty going into labor we were not too concerned. On twentieth March, a storm front moved through, and it brought snow again, Kathryn was in no mood to build snowmen this time. She complained of a backache, her mother noticed Amanda had turned. Helen called her sister’s to explain, “We need to stay near Kathryn if possible, I believe Amanda will me making an appearance shortly.”
When Misty came over with Marshall, she too complained of a backache, and Helen’s eyes lit up seeing how the baby had turned for Misty as well.
Of course, I felt every twinge Kathryn had. Fortunately, for me my pain threshold is quite high, with a little concentration I could pull most of Kathryn’s pain away from her. Helen figured it out in a heartbeat, she told me angrily, “JJ, Kathryn needs that pain, and it is how her body prepares itself to deliver Amanda. If you take too much of it away her labor will be very long and even more difficult.”
I look at Helen as another contraction starts, there nearly twenty minutes apart. I can understand what she means. I am taking nearly all of Kathryn’s pain and not allowing her to fill the discomfort that racks my own body. Kathryn overhears, she comes in punches me in the arm trying to break my concentration. With a little anger to her voice Kathryn says, “Do not take this away from me, JJ. This experience is what makes a woman a woman.”
Helen says, “Kathryn, I think JJ is going to give you what you wish for. Remember that when you get angry at him for getting you pregnant.”
Kathryn’s eyes go wide as I release more of the pain back to her, she knows better than complain because I will simply take it away again. Looking at her I say, “I was probably the first husband in history that could do what all other husbands have wished they could do, take the pain away that you have giving us children.”
Kathryn places her hands on her back, arching it to stretch which only makes her belly look that much bigger. Over the last month, I swear Kathryn has gotten so large, I know it was to give Amanda room to finish growing. Kathryn still swims daily, although it is a little more difficult for her now, and she is quite a bit slower. The time in the pool helps, her feet does not swell as much when she spends time there. The days Kathryn does not get to swim her feet swell, and I do my best to massage her feet those days.
Sam and Crystal sees their mother’s discomfort, and the two girls come asking if there is anything they can do for her. Kathryn giggles and says, “No it is just your baby sister letting me know she is coming soon.”
The girls’ eyes light up at the news, more than at the snow that has kept me home today.
Misty giggles and says, “I guess Junior is letting me know he is coming too.”
Marshall tells me, “We been packed since the first, just in case the Doctor is wrong.”
Looking at Marshall I explain, “Premonitions are like weather forecasts, little things can change and alter what was going to occur. Remember back on the first was not a very good time, we just had Sylvia’s funeral.”
Marshall says, “Then I am glad our kids were not in a hurry to be born. They would never understood why we were a little sad on their birthdays.”
Kara comes in dropping snow from her coat. Daniel on Kara’s heels is carrying a bundled up Cindy, when he sets Cindy down she sheds her coat and runs to me. Jumping into my arms she says, “Uncle JJ you need to take Aunt Kathryn to the hospital now. You too Uncle Marshall, you need to take Aunt Misty.”
I am a little confused therefore, I ask, “Cindy, why do I need to take her now?”
There is a look of certainty in Cindy’s eyes as she says, “I had a nightmare, the roads are getting really bad and if you do not leave now, you may not get to the hospital in time.” Sam and Crystal run to get their and their mothers bags. That is their job on our hospital plan.
Daniel says, “It has already come over the news that only emergency vehicles, and those with four-wheel-drive should attempt being on the road today, and the sheriff has asked that everyone remain home if possible.”
I look at Cindy, have learned to listen when one of our children have a message from their deceased parents. Sam’s Angel Mommy delivers very accurate warnings. Looking at Cindy I say, “Thank you for the warning Cindy, will leave right now.”
Kara raises an eyebrow before she asks, “You are not going to go out in weather like this, are you?”
I ask a question in return, “You think Sylvia would lie to us and put us in danger when we did not need to be? I do not think she would, and this is her warning us.”
Cindy looking at Kara says, “I told you Uncle JJ would know.”
Kara says, “JJ we were out playing in the snow until we got very cold this morning, we decided to come in. Daniel volunteered to make us some soup and sandwiches, and Cindy and I took a hot shower to warm up. We gotten dressed in pajamas and were sitting on the couch just cuddling together. We must have fallen asleep because it felt so good getting warm.”
Cindy continues for her Mom, “Daddy was being a little slow getting the sandwiches and soup. I had the dream, Angel Mommy warns the roads are going to be bad, and you will have to help other people so it is going to take a long time getting Aunt Kathryn and Aunt Misty to the hospital. If you leave soon you will get there in time.”
Kathryn says, “My contractions are about twenty minutes apart now, they usually do not want you to go in until their ten minutes apart. Under the circumstances it might be wise to listen to Angel Sylvia.”
Marshall pulls on his coat saying, “I am going after Misty’s bags, pick me up if I am not back before you leave. JJ that SUV you have is a four-wheel-drive right?”
Answering Marshall’s question I say, “Yes, Kathryn got me the four-wheel-drive model.”
Cindy says, “Do not forget to bring a few ropes, and some extra gasoline.”
It took us two and a half hours, we pulled out five cars from ditches that blocked our way, and another had run out of gas. All the gas stations remained closed due to the bad weather. Their employees could not make it in to work.
We pulled into the hospital, Kathryn’s and Misty’s contractions were barely more than eight minutes apart and lasting for quite a long time. Actually I say we, I should say the family, between the Coach, Ron, Charles, and Uncle George there were enough SUVs with four-wheel-drive to bring everyone, we even picked up a few extra bodies along the way the needed to come to the hospital. Uncle George along with Charles had volunteered to help bring anyone into the hospital because the emergency services did not have a four-wheel-drive. As soon as we arrived at the hospital, they immediately ordered out along with an EMT team. I allow them to use my SUV as well.
Helen looking at Marshall’s face east time one of Misty’s contractions start, you do not need telepathy to read his mind, but Helen asked anyway. “Marshall I bet you just want to take Misty’s pain away?”
Marshall takes a heavy breath and says, “I would give anything if Misty had no pain, I would take it in a heartbeat.”
Helen says, “JJ said something about everyman would do that for their wife if they could.” Marshall shakes his head yes reconfirming what he said.
Ron sent after the Doctor, who was stuck in a snowdrift and nearly out of fuel. Ron drove a hummer that was similar to the ones military use. There some areas in our County that allow four-wheel-drives to go mudding. Ron and Reese both seem to enjoy their outings. I have even tried it once, taking Sam and Crystal along. I really did not enjoy the clean up afterwards, must have been forty pounds of mud on my SUV.
Ron’s hummer was the best to pull a car from a snowdrift, and we just could not leave the car in the road. Ron returns nearly an hour later, he shakes his head and says, “It is so bad out there it is a good thing I was raised up north. Even places where the road is fairly clear it is really icy.”
Ron does not get more than ten minutes break, before they request Ron again to assist another person in their efforts to reach the hospital. Charles asks, “Would you like some help, Jim can shovel for you if you need someone to help dig someone out.”
Jim have been looking nervous, and the young man really needed something to do. His father having worked around young men probably knew that better than anyone did. Jim is actually happy to be helping Ron, and the hospital has provided them a shovel, which he used to clear the emergency area of snow. Fortunately, the snow had stopped falling although the wind kept it drifting, the worst of the snowstorm may have passed because it seemed calmer now.
I nervously am pacing across the floor of the waiting room, ever so often they will run me out to examine Kathryn. Other than that I am always at her side, the doctor was amazed at how well she was handling the pain from her contractions. He thought I was having sympathetic contractions; many husbands have those although mine was a little different, I simply shared her pain. I feel them placing a spinal block in Kathryn. I know this is one of the last things done before taking her to delivery.
I meet Kathryn on her way to delivery, although our hospital does not allow me to accompany her in the operating room. With a spinal block in, Kathryn is no longer having pain only some mild discomfort from her powerful contractions. Before we are separated Kathryn whispers to me, “JJ let me have this all by myself.” We do get one more kiss and a quick I love you before she disappears into the operating room.
I do what I can, to separate Kathryn thoughts, emotions and senses from my conscience. I am not that successful, and I try to meditate to place myself in a state in which I am separate even from my own body. It takes a while, because I have not done this in years. Now I not only have to separate myself my own body, but Kathryn’s as well.
It seemed like only an instant passes when Helen began shaking me, and I come out of my trance. Looking into her happy eyes, I know Amanda has arrived. Helen then leads me to the room reserved for Kathryn and I. Inside I find Sam and Crystal on the bed watching as Kathryn feeds Amanda. Kathryn smiles at seeing me and the large smile on my face. The two girls nearly tackle me once I walk into the room.
Sam asks, “Daddy where did you go?” Crystal shook her head indicated she had the same question.
I shrug my shoulders unsure of what she means but reply, “I was meditating so your Mommy could deliver Amanda without me interfering.” See the confused look I explain, “When I meditate I separate myself from even my own body. It is like I am not even alive anymore.”
Kathryn looks up and says, “Do not do that again. I actually felt lost without you. I am so glad you are back with me now.”
It may be due to the effect of the meditation, but even without touching Kathryn, I can get a sense of how it feels to nurse Amanda. Beforehand that would require direct contact to Kathryn. Perhaps that is only temporary or our bond is now stronger.
Despite all my meditation, I find that I am actually exhausted, with Sam and Crystal on my chest Kathryn giggles as my eyes closed and a three of us instantly fall asleep. I wake in the middle of the night, Amanda is moving in her crib, when I walk to it she is not yet awake, but she will be awake soon she is hungry. I realize I connect to Amanda much as I was to Kathryn a few years ago. I can since her surface thoughts, although they are very simple now. Things like hunger and thirst, the need for sleep or being uncomfortable, even the longing for touch seems to come through that connection.
Gently lifting my daughter from her crib, I hold her in my arms and walk to the nurses’ station for a bottle. The lights in the hall or the movement awakes Amanda, and she begins to cry and search for a nipple. The nurse explains I need to take her back to her mother, because Kathryn listed breast-feeding only. Walking back into our room, Kathryn giggles before taking Amanda. Kathryn says, “You are going to have to wait until I have some bottles ready. Then you can feed Amanda at night.”
I marvel at this tiny little life given to us, Amanda’s hands are so small that when her hand wrapped around my finger it barely reached from tiny little thumb to her tiny fingers. Kathryn and my heart soar with love for our new daughter. Loving Amanda makes us love Sam and Crystal even more. It is strange how that works, the more love you have the stronger it becomes.
Sam and Crystal must have awoken, they each whisper as they watch their mother feeding their baby sister. I pull the two back into my lap, and caress my two older daughters. I looked down into their eyes and smile, kissing them on the forehead I say, “I love you too, that will never change. I am having a new experience with Amanda. It is not that I love you any less than her. Babies do need a lot of attention, they cannot help themselves, they cannot eat by themselves, and they cannot change their own diaper or take a bath. My big girls, you will get to help to all those things with Amanda and all your other little sisters.”
Sam and Crystal look into my eyes before Sam says, “You mean I have to change stinky diapers.”
Trying not to chuckle I say, “Not very often, but I am sure I will need your help once in a while.”
Crystal giggles and says, “We will take turns Sam, when we need to.” Amanda grunts as she fills her diaper, and the two girls giggle. I realize I will be changing a diaper shortly, once we have allowed enough time for Amanda to finish.
By the time Amanda needs changed, the girls have fallen back asleep and I am not going to wake them up to help me now. I got the diaper, the diaper wipes and I took Amanda over to a changing table, Kathryn is watching as I gently remove the soiled diaper, once the cool air contacts her skin, Amanda urinates. Recovering her with the diaper to allow the diaper to absorb it, now with her tiny bladder empty I change her diaper. I removed the diaper from between her legs then use the wipes to clean her skin, placed a clean diaper under her and use another diaper wipe to ensure that she is completely clean before adding a small amount of baby powder. Then attach the tapes for her new diaper into place. I pull down her sleep shirt then rewrap her in her blanket.
Holding her in my arms Amanda is warm and comfortable, she has a full stomach, and she seems to fall back asleep immediately. What comes to mind is the more they sleep the faster they grow. I bring her back to her mother, Kathryn smiles brightly at me, as I hand her Amanda. Kathryn had a need to hold her, and to look into her face as she slept.
My arm goes across Kathryn shoulders, as I gently sat down next to her and we both watch our daughters sleep and wish them sweet dreams. Only a few moments later a light tap is at our door, and Marshall sticks his grinning face in, he says, “How is my baby niece?”
I whisper, “Just getting back to sleep. How is my baby nephew?”
Marshall smiles then in a whisper replies, “Doing the same thing, sleeping and growing. Misty, MJ and I will come by in the morning to visit. We are next door by the way.”
Kathryn whispers, “I am looking forward to meeting MJ, see you in the morning.”
Marshall softly closes the door behind him. Exhaustion is hitting Kathryn, and I take Amanda back to her crib and gently place her back covering her in her blankets. Kathryn is lying on her side watching Amanda as she sleeps. Kathryn’s eyes become heavy and joy feels her heart as she falls asleep.
Coming back into bed, Sam and Crystal scoot back onto my chest and I caress their backs. I quietly whisper, I love you my big girls.
Sam and Crystal both whisper, “I love you too Daddy.”
I am half-awake at various times when the nurses check on Amanda and Kathryn. We get more than a couple giggles at seeing how we sleep. Sam and Crystal cuddle together while sleeping on my chest. Kathryn is holding my hand as she faces Amanda who sleeps in her crib just within arm’s distance.
The nurses try to be as quick and quiet as they possibly could, they do not wish to disturb our three princesses. I know morning is coming, the three girls are becoming ravenous, and I realize I not only can sense Amanda, but both Sam and Crystal. Maybe that is how I was always able to be at Crystal and Sam’s bedside when they woke from a nightmare.
Perhaps my training or the experience I am having with Kathryn has awakened a portion of my mind that allows being empathetic, the ability to feel their emotions. Another possibility is being connected to Kathryn like I am we get the benefit of each of our abilities, acting like to receivers that senses the wants and needs of our daughters. A second possibility could simply be, I was hungry as they are in my subconscious is telling me that.
Does not change the fact that we missed dinner last night, and I know the girls will be ravenous. I hope the stories, on how bad hospital food is, are incorrect. With the snow outside, I doubt I could find a restaurant open, and I am hopeful that the kitchen staff was able to make it in to work today.
I should not have worried, Ron comes in pushing a cart full of trace, Reese, Daniel, Kara and Cindy follow him, Daniel has a folding table that he sets up, and a couple nurses bring folding chairs they only sit them down then leave. Ron leaves for a moment, he returns with Marshall, Misty and MJ. Daniel leaves for a moment to and brings in a second table, the large room now seems crowded with the additional tables and chairs.
Marshall carried in the crib, while MJ was in Misty’s arms. I walked up to Misty and looked down into my nephew’s face. I know he is truly not my nephew, although for most of his young life he will call me uncle. If our premonition is correct, about his sophomore year he and Amanda will discover each other in a different way. Well they will want a different kind of relationship from the way they grew up.
Reese and Kara are setting out the trays, as Marshall and I help our wives to the table. With everyone seated, I notice six empty chairs that is when MC brings Rosy, Allen and Anna in. That confuses me because, should not Allen and Anna be with Uncle George and Alyssa. MC sees my question and answers before I ask, “Uncle George and Alyssa along with your Mom, Michelle, Karen, Joan, Johnny, Jim, Helen and Michael are helping in the kitchen, they are rather shorthanded because of the storm. Charles and Jane will be in shortly there delivering food to the nurses’ stations.”
Almost as soon as MC finishes her statement, Charles and Jane stroll in to our room. A smile crosses their face looking at the babies.
Charles brought a third table, and the nurses follow him again and bring in chairs. The nurses give Jane a hug. Before they leave, they think her for bringing their breakfast. Jane returns their hugs and says you are welcome to each thank you.
Charles remarks, “For a small community, this is one of the better hospitals I have visited. I have been at far too many hospitals, either visiting my friends or there for treatments.”
Ron has a faraway look before he says, “I remember you coming to visit me. I really was not in the mood that did not stop you.” Then giving his friend a smile, Ron says, “You turn my mood around, I never thanked you for that. It was the first step of my recovery. Thank you my friend.”
Reese gives Charles look that I am not sure if, then a smile crosses her face. She says to Charles, “Charles is that why you had me be Ron’s adjutant while he was stuck in the hospital. You knew how we felt about each other?”
Charles chuckles and says, “I knew, not many people did. The first day you two met, I saw the way he looked at you Reese. I also saw how disappointed he was when he found out your rank, I think he wanted to get you a field commission just so he could date you.”
Ron chuckles, “I had a second disappointment that day, I found out Second Lieutenants cannot give field commissions.”
Jim laughs, “Now you know why, if they were able to, they would be a lot of pretty Second Lieutenants running around.” The room is full of laughter, and Ron’s face reddens until Reese pulls him into a long passionate kiss.
A nervous Mitch comes in; looking at me, he waves me out of the room. I follow curiously into the hall. Once alone Mitch begins, “JJ, I am sorry. I had a small accident with your SUV.”
Concern crosses my face before I ask, “Are you okay, No one got hurt?”
Mitch taken aback at my lack of concern over the vehicle explains, “Just one quarter panel is damaged, I am fine, and I was still able to get the persons they sent me after back to the hospital. I just got back. I slid off the road on the way there, it looked clear but they must have been some ice. The back corner panel hit a post beside the road.”
I say, “It was just an accident, something that you would never do purposely. Quarter panels are easily fixed, a person on the other hand is not easy to repair or replace.”
Mitch relaxes, he says, “I will pay to get it fixed, I was just driving a little too fast, I was trying to hurry to get to the person who needed hospitalization.”
I ask, “Did they get here fine?”
Mitch smiled in return saying, “Actually they did, turns out it was not an emergency, like I thought, just a pair of grandparents that could not get here to see their new grandchild.” Looking into my face, he says, “It is Misty’s parents, her Dad was having a little angina, but the doctors cleared him. They want me to ask if it would be all right for them to see their grandchild. Could you help me?”
With a smile I say, “Misty has wanted her father to come around ever since her wedding. He was a little angry thinking she and Marshall were giving up their future just to get married.”
Mitch smiles and then says, “That explains the conversation they were having on the way to the hospital. Misty’s mother was giving her husband a real talking to about their daughter. Even though he was having chest pains, she had no sympathy for him. She said it is his own fault for being so hardheaded. That even his body was trying to tell him he had been wrong, and it is time to make it right.”
I remember back when Uncle George did not know that Marshall and Misty were learning to trade, that Kathryn and I were giving them a different type of education. An education that left them financially independent, and then there was the treasure Sam naming both to receive a share. Her father knew none of this. Misty’s mother insisted that he remain in the dark about these events. Misty’s mother insisted that he needs to come back to her because of his love and nothing else.
I give my head a shake and I ask, “Mitch, can you get three more trays so you can join us for breakfast?”
Mitch smiles and says, “I am starved, they have had me out all night without a chance of getting anything to eat.”
I walk back into the room and announce, “We are going to have three more join us shortly. Can we make room for them?”
It does not take us long; we simply put three of the children onto our laps. Cindy goes on to Daniel’s lap, Sam on to mine, and Rosy takes MC’s lap. That leaves two chairs open beside Marshall and Misty, and one by MC. Mitch brings in the three trays of food. Setting them down in the now empty places, and he takes the seat next to MC. I cannot help but notice the warm smile that MC gives him, and I wonder if the two will strike up a friendship or possibly more.
There is a knock on the door, as it opens Marshall breaks into a wide smile seeing his father and mother in law, Carl Caldwell and his wife Sarah. Misty quickly hands Marshall their son, then jumps up and runs into her father’s arms. The two hug tightly, sobs come as the pain washes away with their tears. Finally pulling back from his daughter Misty’s father says, “Misty, I am so sorry.”
Misty smiles through her tears and says, “It is okay Daddy, you are here now and that is all that matters.”
We spend the next hour, catching Carl and Sarah up on the events of the last nine months, we allow Sam to tell the story about the lightning bolt and the treasure tree. At the end of her story, Carl’s eyes rolled back into his head and he passes out in his chair.
Sarah knew a little of what had occurred, but she did not want to know the full details afraid she would accidentally allow her husband overhear her retelling them. She is a little pale in the face to learning her daughter and son-in-law are billionaires. She knew they had more than enough to live off comfortably, but had no idea it was this much. Looking at her husband she giggles, “Oh, let him sleep. If he had been doing as a father should have, he would have known all this beforehand. If he had not been so stubborn, and just listen to Marshall once he would have known.”
We did not let him sleep all that long, mainly because Marshall Junior started to cry, which started Amanda crying. The two infants woke him quickly and he came awake with a start. Misty was just putting MJ to her breast, using a blanket to cover her chest. Kathryn was doing likewise; both babes heard nursing easily.
He looks at his son-in-law and asks, “Did I fall asleep and dream that you are a billionaire?”
Marshall chuckles then replies, “No, you heard we were billionaires then you passed out.”
His hands are practically shaking as he tells Marshall, “Marshall I am so sorry, if I had listened to you I would have known how wrong I was. I know now that my mistake was jumping to the conclusion that you were throwing away your life, and my daughter was going to go down with you. Misty honey, I am sorry.”
Misty giggles, “If you would come around sooner, you would not be driving that old beater, that could not make it in here. I wanted to get you a new truck for Christmas, but Mom would not let me until you come around.”
Her Dad shakes his head no before he says, “Misty honey, you should not buy me a present so expensive anyway. You know I can never afford to give you anything of equal value.”
Misty looks at her father and shares a lesson she is learned. Smiling at him she says, “Daddy, it would not matter what you gave me, if it cost a dollar or a million, as long as it came from your heart it would be priceless to me.”
Carl gives his daughter a smile and ask, “How did you get so wise in just nine months?”
Misty looks at me then Sam and says, “I just become part of a very wise family, now that you are over your stubbornness you are a part of it also.”
Carl looks around at the smiling faces that greeted him. He says, “In my stubbornness I truly have been a fool. I missed the one true thing my daughter has brought to my attention. You have accepted her with love into your family. That is something I should have done, I should allow my heart and not my mind to decide who my family is.”