"Thanks for giving me this time, Dr. McLean," Jamie said greeting the oncologist with a handshake. "I know you're a cancer specialist so this might be beyond the scope of your practice, but you know Eddie very well and you can answer my most pressing question."
The doctor sat back and crossed his arms, "Anytime, Jamie. Eddie has been my patient since my father-in-law retired. What's going on?"
"Eddie lost her dad about five weeks ago," Jamie began. "She held it all in, you know Eddie, then it all finally erupted. Now, she's depressed, she's not eating right, she's not sleeping well or she's sleeping all the time. My major concern is her cancer, can this bring it back?"
"Maybe, is the best answer I can give you, Jamie. There's no actual link between stress and a recurrence of cancer but I find that patients who have been in remission for a long time like Eddie, if they have a recurrence, it's usually coming at a time when they are under increased stress."
Jamie nodded, "So, I need to find a way to get her out of this. I'm so concerned because our daughter is pregnant and even talking about that isn't helping her."
"Have you thought about taking her to see him? Taking her to his grave or where you scattered his ashes, might help her complete that grief process."
Jamie nodded, "I did, but I wanted to talk to you first before I put her under more strain. I'm doing the best I know how for her and for the first time in our marriage, it isn't enough."
Dr. McLean reached into his desk, "These are the names of two therapists I often send my patients families to if we are unsuccessful here. If you do take her to the cemetery and it doesn't seem to help her, give them a call and let them know that I referred you."
Jamie smiled and took the cards, he knew that if he spoke to Eddie's doctor he would get some advice. Relieved there was no scientific link between stress and cancer, just a theoretic one, Jamie planned a trip to the cemetery for that weekend.
Lila was over the house when Jamie got home. "Hey, Kitten. Steven at work?"
Lila nodded, "Yeah, I thought I'd come over and see how Mom was doing. We watched some home movies today of you when you were an itty bitty baby."
Jamie laughed, "Grandpa had those out did he?"
"They made Mom smile," Lila replied. "Grandpa is napping and Mom is doing her pumps. We're going to get Indian again for dinner."
"Again? Lila, that…." Jamie gave in. If she wanted it, he was fine with footing the expensive bill for it.
Lila playfully stuck her tongue out at Jamie, "I can't help it if your grandchild has a flare for curry. Grandpa's happy with it, he just discovered masala chicken."
Jamie laughed, "Anything you want, Kitten. I'm going to have a word with Mom, just watch the spice all right, I know you crave it because pregnancy can change your taste buds but it's not good for you or the baby."
Lila nodded and smiled and finished making herself a cup of herbal tea.
Jamie found Eddie in their bedroom finishing her lymph edema pumps. "Hey, pretty girl," he smiled, using a sentiment he used often when Eddie was sick.
"Hey yourself," Eddie replied turning off the machine and removing the sleeve. "You're home pretty late. You're over your fifty hours this week."
Jamie nodded, "I know honey. Eddie, I want to run something by you." Jamie took her hand and sighed, "It's been hard since Peter died. I know you have a lot of anger and a lot of regrets, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit it tears me up inside to see you struggling. So, I went to see Dr. McLean."
"Dr. McLean?" Eddie got up and began to put the equipment away. "What possible reason…"
"Dr. McLean gave me the names of some grief counselors," Jamie replied. "But I discussed another idea with him. I am so worried for you, Eddie that you might get sick or….What do you say to a little road trip tomorrow? You and I…"
"And where would we be going on this trip, Jamie?" Eddie asked, knowing her husband too well after thirty years of marriage.
"Well, I was thinking to the cemetery in Westchester to visit your father, then a really nice steak dinner with medium rare meat, twice bakes potatoes…"
Eddie slapped Jamie's chest lightly, "You know the way to get me to say yes to your crazy ideas is through my stomach, Reagan." She sighed, "I want to put it behind me and not think about it, but that doesn't seem to be working so I'll try it your way. I do not want to see a shrink and talk about my Daddy issues."
"I hope you don't have to," Jamie replied. "But we are in a really exciting time for our family honey. I don't want to see you feeling like this when Lila is going through an Indian food phase."
Eddie ran her hands up Jamie's chest, "All right, honey. We'll give it a try, but if this doesn't help, I just want you to let it be for a bit okay?"
Jamie pulled Eddie close and kissed her head, "Okay…Now let's go downstairs and mortgage our house…."
Eddie looked at Jamie, "Oh..." For the first time in weeks, she let out a genuine laugh.
The next Saturday afternoon, on a lovely early spring day, Jamie and Eddie took a scenic drive up to Westchester where Peter had been buried. The trees and flowers were blooming, showing signs of new life and hope to come. "It's so pretty up here this time of year," Jamie commented looking over to check on Eddie from time to time.
"Now and in the fall," she agreed. "We used to take drives down the scenic overlooks and just look out at nature. My dad would get fried chicken and potato salad and make the best sweet iced tea and we'd have a picnic."
"That's a good memory, honey," Jamie smiled. 'We need to make sure we make those memories with our grandchild. A grandchild…"
Eddie smiled and rubbed Jamie's leg. "I'm glad we're doing this…that we're trying it, and I am so glad that you are with me."
It took another half hour to get to the cemetery and locate Peter's grave. He was buried beside Eddie's mother, his name had been etched into the stone a few days before. Eddie knelt down by the stone and gently traced the lettering. Peter S. Janko…Beloved Father. "It was true, Dad," Eddie replied. "I did love you, I never stopped. When you got arrested and had to go away…I was just so angry…"
Jamie stood back and watched as Eddie finally spoke to her father. He wasn't there to hear her in body, but Jamie believed his essence and his spirit were still with them.
"I needed you, Dad," Eddie whispered starting to cry. "And then, I felt like you wanted money more than you wanted me. I would give back the house, the car, everything if it meant you weren't taken from me. I had lost Mom and then I lost you too. I decided if you didn't want me then I wasn't going to force myself on you. If I didn't matter to you, then you didn't matter to me."
Eddie wiped her eyes with her hand, "I know now how wrong I was about so much, but this time you are really gone and I…"
Eddie's shoulders crumbled and she began to sob. Until then, Jamie kept a respectable distance, letting Eddie have the time she needed but he couldn't stand aside when she made that sound. Carefully, Jamie moved closer to her and rubbed her back. "Go on, Sweetheart. Say what you need to say. I'm right here."
Eddie cried, unable to continue speaking for several minutes. Jamie kept a gentle pressure on her back, just letting her feel his presence. It took all that he had not to grab her into his arms and take her back to the car, but he knew she needed to do this.
"I'm sorry," Eddie managed. "I'm so sorry, Daddy. I never let myself forgive you, you only did it for me, thinking I'd be happy. I'm so sorry…"
Jamie slid down so he was sitting behind Eddie. He pulled her close and rocked while she murmured her apologies over and over again. "What are you sorry for?" Jamie gently pressed. "Tell him what you're sorry for."
"I'm sorry for…keeping the kids from you and for not letting you know I loved you until was too late. I'm sorry I was so selfish and never let you live down your mistakes. I'm sorry for all of it."
Jamie nodded and rubbed her shoulders, "Your Dad is sorry too, Eddie. He told me that he was sorry he wasn't there for so much of your early adult life and he was sorry he didn't push harder to mend fences with you. He loved you so much, he loved you enough to let you have your freedom…and he loved you enough that none of the things you just apologized for mattered to him. He just loved you." Jamie kissed the side of her head. "And you loved him in spite of his mistakes, you just were in too much pain to show it. Let go of the pain, Angel. If you love him like you say you do, you'll let go of the pain and go into this next part of our family's life with an open heart."
Eddie leaned back in Jamie's arms, neither cared they would have grass stained clothing when they went to eat, neither cared they would probably be sore the next day, they were doing what they did best, supporting and loving each other. Eddie took a long breath, "I love you, Dad and I am going to do my best to be a terrific grandmother. I promise to bring the baby to the scenic overlooks to eat chicken and potato salad….and tell him or her all about their great grandpa and how much you would have loved them. Watch over us, Dad, like you always did, even if I didn't realize it."
Eddie reached out and gently touched each of her parents' names before getting up and wiping her pants. "You need a hand up?"
Jamie laughed and used both Eddie's hand and his cane to get off the ground. Eddie brushed him off and took his hand to walk back to the car. "How do you feel?" Jamie asked as they walked at a stroll pace.
"I'm still sad, I think that will take a while, but I feel less…anguish…there's a feeling of peace now…closure, I think." Eddie stopped walked and tugged Jamie's hand so he followed suit.
Eddie leaned up and placed a kiss on Jamie's lips, "Thank you, Jamie. I could not have gotten through this without you. I really couldn't have."
Jamie stroked Eddie's hair, enjoying the feel of the silky strands running through his fingers. "Almost thirty-four year together, thirty of it married, we are still there for each other. We still love each other in that special way. You know there is nothing I won't do for you, including getting grass stains on my good pants."
Eddie laughed, "It's going to take me a little while before I'm myself, be patient with me?"
"Aren't I always?" Jamie asked as they started walking again. "I'll be as patient as you need me to be. I just want you to smile again."
Eddie looked up at Jamie and flashed him a beautiful smile, one that reached her eyes. "You gave me a gift today, Jamie. I can't thank you enough for being here for me through all this. It really has given me peace, a healing peace."
As Jamie got into the car and started towards the restaurant he offered a prayer of thanksgiving. He and Eddie had just gone through another challenge and come out on the other end of it stronger than they were before. That was the nature of their marriage, their partnership, and the life of love they had built together. Jamie and Eddie both knew there would be new challenges to face, not all of them would have happy endings, but if they faced those challenges together, as they had for many years, they would always have a deep, sustaining, healing peace.
A/N: That wraps up this installment of the series. It was much shorter than the previous too but I hope that it lived up to it' predecessors. Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed this piece, to Lawslave for sampling each chapter and letting me rant about writer's block, and to Yanks20 for helping me with difficult dialogue.
This Wednesday, installment four, And Baby Makes…will be posted and I will try to updates every other day. I am not finished writing all of it yet, so let's hope my muse stays with me.
I look forward to hearing your input on this final chapter, and to your visiting me and this representation of the family Reagan in the next installment.