I shrugged it off as best I could. Didn’t matter. The past was just that: in the past . . . finished . . . over and done with. Even though I was aching inside, and desperately low from losing my dad, I still understood what was most important. My eyes were opened clearly from this experience, and they would stay that way. Loss of a loved one will shift your priorities in an instant, I had learned.
My father was gone, but my mind was intact.
I knew what mattered, and what didn’t. The person holding me against his strong body in protection with loving care, and, the tiny person growing inside me were my whole world now.
Having Brynne sleeping against me on the flight home to London made me feel the best I had in days. She was utterly spent and so exhausted she’d nodded off almost immediately after taking our seats. I didn’t blame her either. The send-off from her mum had been . . . painful, for lack of a better description. I was exhausted from the experience myself. God, I really did not like that bloody woman even a miniscule bit. I was headed for absolute f**king my-worst-nightmare mother-in-law hell. And there was not a thing in the world I could do about it. My sweet girl had a gorgon for a mother. She was very beautiful in a designer-chic way, just as I had imagined she would be, but a hideous gorgon all the same. I envisioned Tom Bennett was now receiving his saintly wings for putting up with her for as long as he had. I suppressed a shudder.
Mummy dearest had tried to get Brynne to extend her trip and let me go on home alone. I ground my teeth together in remembrance. As if I would ever allow such a thing! She would have tried to influence her to terminate or get her to move back to the U.S. probably.
In the end, Brynne hardly reacted to her mother at all. She just turned away and said she was going back home to London to marry me and have our baby. I don’t believe I was ever more proud of anyone as I was of my girl when she said those words and looked to me.
Brynne opened her eyes and I caught that moment of innocence, the waking up blissfully unaware of all the bad things that have been happening in your life . . . like losing a beloved parent. It only lasts for a fraction of time, anyway. I know from lots of experience.
Her eyes were bright at first, and then they shuttered, showing the pain of her reality, before closing off to shield herself from the painful thoughts so she could get through the rest of this very public journey. First class was better than coach, but we were still in a cabin with strangers around us and nowhere near private. Brynne was holding it together so far. She’d not broken down yet, and I have to say it worried me more than a little, but there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t grieve for her. She would have to do it in her own way, and in her own time.
The flight attendant came by to take our orders for dinner. Salmon or chicken parmesan topped the menu tonight. I looked over at Brynne and got a tiny head shake and a sad face. I ignored it and told the attendant we’d both take the salmon, remembering how much she enjoyed it for dinner that night with Dad and Marie.
“You have to eat something, baby.”
She nodded and her eyes got wet. “What—w-what am I going to do now?”
I picked up her hand and pressed it to my heart. “You’re going to be back in our home and take some time to rest and do whatever makes you feel better. You’ll go see Dr. Roswell and talk to her. You’re going to work on your research for the university when you feel up to it. You’ll plan the wedding with the girls and Ben. We’ll go see Dr. Burnsley for the second appointment and find out how green-olive is doing. You’re going to let me take care of you and go forward with your life. With our life.”
She listened to every word. She soaked each one up, actually, and I was glad to give her something I think she really needed to hear. Sometimes having another person tell you that everything will be okay is all you really need to get you through the toughest part. I know Brynne needed to hear it, as much as I needed to say it.
“And I will be right with you every step of the way.” I brought her hand up to my lips. “Promise.”
“How do you know about green-olive?” She actually smiled a little.
“I put Bump dot com in my favorites and check it religiously, just like you suggested. We have a green-olive this week, and next week we get a prune.” I winked.
“I love you,” she whispered very softly, and ran her hand through her hair.
“I love you too, my beauty. So very, very much.”
The attendant arrived with the hot towels and drink service. I got the wine, and Brynne got cranberry juice on ice. I waited until she took a sip. I didn’t want to have to force-feed her, but would resort to persuasion tactics if I had to.
To my surprise and relief she seemed to enjoy the cranberry juice.
“This tastes really, really nice.” Another sip. “I’m picking up your words.”
“I can assure you that you still sound like my American girl, baby.”
“I know that, I mean I’m picking up the words you say, like saying ‘this tastes nice’ instead of saying it ‘tastes good.’ It’s rubbing off from being around you so much,” she said.
“Well, since you’re never getting rid of me, then I guess that means I’ll have you speaking like a native in no time.”
“Well, you can certainly try.” She sipped some more juice and looked a bit brighter.
“By the time green-olive is born, you’ll be unrecognizable as a Yank, I’m sure.”
Her face lit up. “I just realized something kinda cool.”
“What’s that?” I asked, intrigued but happy to see her more animated than she’d been in many days.
“Green-olive will call me Mummy instead of Mommy or Mom.” She wrinkled her nose a little. “Seems a little weird . . . but I suppose I’ll get used to it . . . and I like the way it sounds.”
I couldn’t help laughing. “You’ll be the best mum green-olive has ever known.”
She smiled at me briefly, but then it went away just as fast as it had appeared. “Not like mine, that’s for sure.” The hurt and anguish rang out loud and clear in her words.
“I’m sorry for bringing it up.” I shook my head, not wanting to badmouth her mother, but finding it very hard not to.
“You mean bringing her up.”
“That too,” I countered. I really didn’t want to get into the complexities of Brynne’s relationship with her mum, but if that’s what she wanted to discuss, then I could surely give my opinion. I just hoped I didn’t have to.