The humid days of mid-July faded into somewhat more tolerable nights of peace and tranquility. Well, it seemed that way with the windows in our bungalow ajar letting in a summer breeze off of the calm current of the Long Island Sound. Crickets chirped in the background, and finally, after two hours of crying, Jordan and I had gotten our new baby girl to fall fast asleep.
Jordan leaned into me as we gazed over Louise's bassinet, mostly from sheer exhaustion, but there was the ever lingering touch of affection between us.
We both seemed to be magnetized to Louise. The soothing notion of her tiny breaths and chest moving up and down as she finally fell asleep were symphonic after hours of rocking her back and forth.
"She's quite cute when she's not screaming…" Whispered Jordan.
I wrapped my arm tightly around her waist in front of me and placed a kiss on her temple.
"We all know where she gets that from," I responded snidely.
"Don't insult our daughter like that, I look like an absolute sight.." Jordan chuckled to herself.
"I don't think it's insulting, her mother, and my wife happens to be the most beautiful woman in the whole world."
Jordan rolled her eyes; "C'mon Lover boy, let's go to bed before she wakes up."
I laughed at her name calling, and we walked hand in hand down the hall to our room for some well-deserved rest. We opened our bedroom door, and much to our surprise was a Miss. Catherine Jane Carraway, whom we put to bed hours ago.
"Catherine Jane, what are you doing up?" Jordan said in a stern whisper.
Catherine sat on our bed with her beloved companion Mister, with large tears in her eyes. I could tell Jordan's maternal instincts immediately kicked back in.
She rushed to Catherine's side and held her in her arms.
"Kitty, what's wrong darling, why the tears?" Jordan said as she wiped a tear from Catherine's cheek.
"Louise kept crying, and you and Daddy never tucked me in." She sad with the saddest eyes.
Catherine, of course, was over the moon about having a little sister for about a week. Unfortunately, Louise's newness was wearing off, and Catherine was now finding the struggle of having to share Jordan and me.
"Oh my little love, I'm so sorry…. Daddy and I won't let that happen again, right Daddy?" Jordan said, urging me to join the conversation.
"That's right, I'm sorry Kitty. Your sister had a hard time falling asleep, and it must have slipped Mummy and I's mind.
"Let's get you to bed, all right darling?" Jordan said to Catherine.
Catherine shook her head, but still had a hint of sadness in her eyes. I kissed the top of her head as she and Jordan left our bedroom, and her mother took her by the hand and brought her to bed.
I was absolutely exhausted and crawled into bed. Shorty, Jordan joined me, and I wrapped my arms around her as she laid her head on my chest.
"I didn't think having two would be this tricky." Jordan pondered to herself.
I looked down at her in my arms; "I know honey, we'll figure this all out."
"I feel awful for not spending a lot of time with Catherine… I could tell that she was really upset tonight. She still looked sad to me when I tucked her in, but I couldn't get another word out of her. I even went in to kiss her on the cheek and I saw her wipe it off… She's never done that…. She must be so upset…"
"Jordan you need to relax, Catherine isn't the first child to get a sibling. And we aren't the first couple to have more than one child. Louise is only two weeks old for Christ's sake."
"Nick don't be sharp with me, just because you're tired doesn't mean you can talk that way to me! I'm tired too, and between Catherine, and the baby…. I don't know if I can do it…" Jordan said with tears beginning to form.
"Oh Jordie, I'm sorry… You must be twice as tired as I am. Let's get some rest, okay Love?"
She nodded, and I responded with a kiss on the lips.
"That was one of your more salty kisses, but I'll take it." I joked with her.
"All jokes aside Nick, I think Catherine is due for some Mummy and Daddy time tomorrow. Why don't we spend some quality time together, just the three of us, while Lou naps?"
"Sounds like a great idea," I say giving Jordan another kiss.
She smiled, and we both laid down, and I wrapped my arms around my wife yet again. Not more than five minutes after turning off the lights, we were in a deep sleep.
To my surprise, Louise had slept for the entire night for the first time. I never imagined myself a week ago having to wake her up for breakfast, but now I was happily doing so.
I looked down at my sleeping bundle and smiled. Her peachy complexion, her bowtie lips, and strawberry blonde hair were enough to make my heart melt.
"Hello my little Lou, it's time to get up my love!" I said as I brought her into my arms.
It was as if I had a completely different baby in my arms. She was just as content as could be, and finally, I could see us finally getting the hang of having two little girls.
I fed Louise, and as I was rocking and talking to her in the rocking chair in the nursery, Nick came into the nursery abruptly, with a panic-stricken look on his face.
"Nicky, what's that matter?" I said with Louise in my arms.
"Now Jordan, don't panic, but have you seen Catherine?" He said shakily.
Immediately, my heart was in my throat. "What do you mean have I seen Catherine? She's usually not up by now, she's in bed, isn't she?" I said trying to be rational.
"I checked, she's not in her room, she's not downstairs, or in the yard. I can't find her anywhere." Nick said anxiously.
"No, no, no, she must be in her room. Catherine? Kitty, darling!" I said entering her room.
Sure enough, Nick was right, and there was no Catherine to be found.
"Oh Nicky no, no, no! Where is she, Nick she's just a little girl! The roads are so busy, what if someone took her, what if…." I said with tears running down my face, and my breaths becoming shorter and fewer.
Nick placed his hands firmly on my shoulders; "Jordan listen to me, you have to calm down, she's only five, she has to be around here somewhere."
"EXACTLY NICK, SHE'S ONLY FIVE," I shouted as I sobbed to my husband. "She could be hurt, or lost, or…," I said, thinking the worst.
Louise started to cry immediately after I started shouting. Nick sat me down with the baby on the edge of Catherine's bed, when I immediately noticed a piece of paper on Catherine's nightstand.
"What's that on her nightstand…" I said shakily to Nick.
Nick unfolded the piece of paper and read it aloud.
"Dear Mommy and Daddy,
I am running away. You love Louise more than me. Don't look for me, just be happy with Louise and take care of Mister.
Nick handed me the note, and I sobbed even more. Her precious little handwriting, spelling errors and all. She was my baby, just as much as Louise is.
Nick knelt down in front of me and rubbed my arms.
"Honey, I need you to calm down, for yourself and for Louise. She couldn't have gone far, I'm going to find her."
"Oh Nick please, I just hope she's okay… I don't even know how long she's been gone…"
Nick kissed the top of my head, and like a flash, he was gone.
I tried my best to be strong for Jordan, but in reality, I was just as much of a mess as she was. We had no clue where she could have gone, what time she left, or if she was okay or not. I was quite honestly, petrified.
I started out for the wooded parts of our neighborhood, shouting her name.
Every few steps I would do the same, and after a half an hour of tromping through the woods on that muggy July day, there was no sight of Catherine.
Making my way back in the other direction, I walked up the shore, shouting her name again and again.
"CATHERINE!" "CATHERINE WHERE ARE YOU?"
About a half a mile away from our house, I noticed a collection of rocks dividing the beaches of West Egg. Thinking she couldn't have climbed that, I start to turn back. Then, all of a sudden, I hear the tiniest whimper off in the distance.
I start running towards the ten-foot wall of rocks, and as fast as I could, I climbed and stepped over the large rocks. The sound was softly crashing against them, and in my mind, I'm thinking the worst, that my little girl is hurt. I finally get over the rocks, and over onto the other side, and there's Catherine, sitting on a rock, crying her little eyes out.
"CATHERINE!" I yell as I run over to her. She immediately runs to me, and I lift her into my arms and hold her tight.
"Oh, my little Kitty…" I said as I kissed the top of her head. "Are you okay, are you hurt?" I said still panic-stricken.
She shook her head and between the sobs says that she's fine. I let her calm down for a moment, and now it's time that we have a talk.
"Catherine I need you to look at me," I said to her sternly.
"Mommy and I found your note this morning."
She looked at me with discouraged eyes, knowing that she was going to be in a bit of trouble.
"Do you think that Mommy and I love Louise more than you?"
She shook her head yes.
"And why do you think that?"
"Because you and Mommy spend so much time with Louise. I thought you wouldn't care if I was gone."
I gave my eldest daughter a sympathetic smile. "Darling, do you know how worried Mommy and I were when we couldn't find you? I was getting dressed and I couldn't wait to read the paper with you like we do every morning. And then you were gone. Mommy is so scared, she started to cry because she just wanted you to be safe with us at home."
"Mommy was crying?"
I nodded; "My goodness, yes! And when Mommy started to cry, Louise started to cry. I've been so scared to Catherine…. You're my little princess, and all I wanted was to see your pretty face this morning."
"I'm sorry, Daddy…" Catherine said as I held her in my arms.
I looked right into her grey eyes that matched her mothers and said, "I know you are, you just have to promise me that you will never ever do that again. Do you promise me that, Catherine Jane?"
"I promise." She said looking right back at me.
I grinned, and she immediately wrapped her arms around me for the tightest hug. I reciprocated, as I was too happy and relieved to have my Kitty Catherine back in my arms.
I carried her home, and the second I came up the drive with Catherine in my arms, Jordan came running down to greet us.
"Oh my Catherine darling, are you okay my love?" She said as she clutched Catherine in her arms with tears rolling down her face.
"I'm okay Mummy. I'm sorry I made you so sad, I'll never run away again, I promise." Catherine said, wiping away her mother's tears.
"That's right, you never do that ever again. Because you have a Mommy, a Daddy, and a baby sister who love you so very much."
"And Mister! Mister loves me too Mummy." Catherine added.
Jordan and I looked at each other and laughed. "That's right, Mister loves you too."
Jordan continued to embrace our daughter as we walked up the driveway. I wrapped my arms around two of my girls and was so grateful that everyone was safe and sound, and knew just how much they were loved.