Red Velvet by Sea-of-Ice
Baby Andrew was flat on his stomach on his new blanket from Auntie Christie. It was soft, one of those blanket projects where you took two different fabrics and tied them together all along the outer edge. Christie was always geared up to do crafty things like that, and Tierney was eternally grateful, because that was definitely not her.
Andrew gurgled happily, patting down on the blanket and then switching to clutching his tiny fist in the fabric as hard as he could. Tierney was directly in front of him, off the blanket on the plush carpet, with her head nested on her folded arms as she watched her son enjoy his new blanket. He was six and a half months old, very tiny still, but happy and healthy. That was all she could ask for, really.
It had been a long six and a half months. An even longer nine months altogether. Andrew had been well along, growing inside of her, when she and her husband had seen each other for the last time.
She was told he would probably pull through, but to maybe keep her distance so that she wouldn’t become sick herself and put the baby (and herself) at risk. Andrew, her husband Andrew, dying of something that seemed so simple in comparison to what their lives were becoming. They had been married for three years, had known each other for nearly ten, and they were going to have a baby together.
Tierney remembered one of the last conversations they’d had before Andrew had gotten sick.
“What should we name her?” he’d asked, folding laundry on their bed as she sat next to him, reading a parenthood magazine.
“Her?” Tierney had asked, peeking over the pages to smile at him. “We don’t know the gender, sweetie. How do you know it won’t be a boy?”
“Oh, I don’t,” Andrew replied, grinning at her. They had decided to put off thinking of a name when they’d found out she was pregnant, and wanted the gender to be a surprise. Of course, they both had their ideas and wishes, and Andrew had always been impatient about things that excited him. “But we have to start somewhere, right?”
Tierney sniffled, holding her finger out to baby Andrew and letting out a teary chuckle when he cooed and grabbed it, trying to pull it toward his mouth.
Then suddenly Andrew was sick, and the next thing Tierney knew she barely saw him, only quick visits between being shooed away by doctors claiming he’d pull through to work.
She was just leaving the hospital after a visit with him, had barely made it to the elevator, when there was a commotion on his floor, and people rushing in the direction of his room. Tierney had had to fling herself between the elevator doors to keep them from shutting and trapping her inside, away from her husband and from knowing what was happening.
All she had was a glimpse through the window of his room. Then he was just… gone.
Losing him to such a silly thing as pneumonia… Andrew had been sickly as a child, but had grown much stronger as he’d aged. Not enough, though.
Tierney wagged her finger up and down slowly, Andrew’s tiny fist clutching to it like a lifeline as he giggled and watched it move.
She still found herself staring into space, or at pictures of Andrew, or at his side of the bed–no, who was she kidding? There was no ‘his side’ or ‘her side.’ They had shared, just as they’d shared everything else for the last ten years. But now, who was there to share with? It was just emptiness next to her.
A sudden wetness on her finger made Tierney jerk, blinking as she looked up to her son. His big eyes watched her back as he smiled, toothless and gummy around her finger as he giggled at her again.
A shaky breath escaped her, and she smiled as she took her other hand and stroked a finger tip down the side of her baby boy’s cheek. Andrew happily ignored her as he drooled on Tierney’s other hand.
His skin was smooth and blemish free, almost as fresh and clean as he was shortly after birth. It amazed Tierney how much he’d grown in such a short amount of time. She wished Andrew could see their little boy and how amazing he was already. She could hear her husband commenting on him in her mind.
“Look at how tiny you are!” he’d whisper, tickling the little palms of their son’s hands. “And how soft you are! Like a puppy.”
Tierney would laugh. “He’s not a puppy, he’s a baby.”
“Indeed he is,” Andrew would say. “Our little baby. What responsibility we’ve been given.” Tierney could just picture the awed look on her husband’s face as he would hold their little boy. “But also,” he’d continue, and would turn to smile at Tierney with such happiness, she would start to smile even wider herself. “Also, what a beautiful gift we’ve been blessed with.”