My days started late. I couldn't bring myself out of bed until dinner and even then it was questionable if I'd make it to the kitchen. Tim tried everything to motivate me to do something, anything, but I'd go right back to bed and hide from the world.
I wasn't blind to what it was doing to Tim. He was scared for my wellbeing. I wasn't eating right or sleeping well. I barely had enough strength to take a shower. I was at my absolute worse and Tim couldn't do anything. I couldn't believe he was still there.
Tim came into the room before he left for work – as always. He climbed onto the bed where I stared at my phone. I'd tap the screen to see the picture of the ultrasound when I first saw the baby. There wasn't much to see, but I couldn't stop looking at it.
Tim set my phone aside and ran his thumb along my cheek.
My eyes shifted toward his face. I almost winced at the sorrow in his eyes. I must have looked worse than I thought.
"Will you be okay tonight?"
I nodded a little. "Don't worry about me."
A sad half-smile appeared on his lips before he kissed my forehead. "Impossible, Cat."
"You'll be late."
His smile went away. "Can you do something while I'm gone? You don't need to go outside or anything. Just play with Skeet, take pictures... draw somethin'. Please get out of bed."
"I don't want to, Tim. I can't."
He sighed and got up, except he came back to squeeze my sides.
I jerked away with a yelp and glared. "Don't."
He didn't listen and squeezed again.
Once I was trapped between him and the wall, he straddled my waist to leave me a slave to his tickling. I screamed and laughed involuntarily, trying to get out of his hold. He didn't relent.
When his fingers finally stilled, Tim bent down to kiss my cheek. "I miss your laugh."
I didn't think I had anything left to cry, but hot tears streamed down my face when I turned away from Tim's observation. "I'm sorry," I whispered.
Tim sighed again and carefully wiped away my tears. His lips touched the side of my head before he climbed off me. "I love you, Catherine. That hasn't changed."
I couldn't look at him as he walked out of the room, my eyes shutting when the front door did. The hole in my chest grew.
Skeeter came into the room and jumped onto the bed, a ball in his mouth. He dropped it and licked my face.
I looked at the dog and the ball. I didn't have to leave the bed to play with Skeeter.
Sitting up, I took the toy and watched Skeeter's tail wag. I handed it to him and he dropped it next to me. He nudged it toward my hand with his nose.
I took it again and tossed it into the bathroom. Skeeter barked and scampered after it. The corner of my mouth turned up when he took a tumble on his way back.
After tossing the ball from the bed a few times, I trudged into the bathroom. I was too thin and my hair looked like a stringy mess. I turned away and started the shower. I left my dirty clothes beside the toilet and stepped under the warm water. It was so hard to stand.
I stayed under the water until it ran cold and then I stayed longer. It was my phone that forced me to get out.
"Hello?" I didn't recognize the number.
"Catherine? It's Tami Taylor."
"I wanted to touch base with you about dinner."
I rubbed my head and closed my eyes. My voice wavered. "Uh, I... Things are a little hard right now. We... I'm not doing well."
"Oh, no. Are you okay?"
Even though she couldn't see it, I shook my head and fought back tears. "N-No, I'm not."
"Do you need me to come over?"
A choked sound left my lips when I tried to reject the offer. Instead, a small "yes" come out and I sniffled.
"I'll be there soon, Catherine."
Nodding again, I hung up. I dug around for some underwear, shorts, and one of Tim's t-shirts. I crawled back into bed to cry it out.
Tami stared at me from the couch. I sat with my knees up to my chin in our recliner. I played with the strings of the hoodie I put on.
"What happened, honey?"
I took a long breath and closed my eyes. "I-I lost it... I lost the baby."
Tami gasped softly. "Oh, God. Do you wanna talk about it? Can you talk about it?"
"I don't want to... but I think I need to." I sucked in a breath. "I'm hurting Tim a-and I don't want to do that anymore. I can't hurt him when he's going through the loss on his own. He's only hidin' it because I can't get my shit together.
"He's so strong. He goes to work every day while tryin' to help me. I don't know how he does it. And I've been having trouble getting out of bed to take a shower without breakin' down."
"Okay, okay." Tami leaned forward on her elbows. "So I wanna go back to what happened. How has this, uh, loss affected you? Not Tim, but you."
My face contorted in despair and I let my head fall into my heads. "I-I feel like I've failed as a wife, a mom... a-a woman." I took a breath and meet her gaze. "I've lost everything."
Tami opened her arms and urged me to come over to her. I did, curling into her side and hugging her. Her arms circled my shoulders and she rocked me from side to side as I cried again.
"You haven't lost everything, Catherine," she said as I quieted down. "You still have Tim who loves you and the ability to try again."
"But what if I lose the next baby? I can't... I can't go through this a second time. I'll die."
"Then you find another way. You can adopt, find a surrogate, or you can try any of the many options available to have a baby. It may not be the same as carrying one, but you'll love your children no matter where they come from. If you're not meant to carry one, your value doesn't depreciate."
"Tim was so happy knowin' we were gonna have a baby, Mrs. T. I just want to give him what he wants."
"Sweetheart, Tim loves you so much that he married you. Tim Riggins married you. He wants you and you to be happy. You give him what he wants every day you wake up next to him. I can guarantee that if a baby isn't in God's plan for you, Tim will love you the same. Don't beat yourself up over something you can't control."
I used my sleeve to wipe my eyes. "Will I ever feel happy again?"
"Yes. You'll have bad days, but they'll come less often and you'll have Tim to help you. Your friends, too. I can't tell you how to grieve or when you won't anymore. I can tell you that you have so much to be happy about and thinking about those things will help. You've got to push forward and ask for help when you need it. Don't go it alone."
Skeeter lapping up water from his bowl echoed from the kitchen.
"I'm happy to help. Do you want me to stay until Tim gets home tonight? I can make you something to eat."
"I don't really feel like eating."
"Well, you're gonna. You're skin and bones. I'll go see what I can whip up." Tami stood up, rubbing my shoulder.
I watched her search the kitchen as if she'd been using it for years. Ever so slightly, the hole in my chest shrunk because of Tami Taylor.
I stirred when Tim came home, but I didn't move from my place on the couch, Tami's lap my pillow.
"Uh, hey, Mrs. Taylor."
He cleared his throat. "What're you doin' here? Did Cat invite you over?"
"I called about havin' dinner soon and it sounded like she needed to talk." Tami carefully got up and laid my head on a cushion. "We talked, I made her some dinner, and she's been asleep ever since."
I pulled my lips between my teeth at the sound of his voice. If he started crying, I would too.
"How are you, Tim? She told me what she could. She worries you won't want her if she can't have a baby. Are you actin' some way that would give her that idea?"
"No, ma'am. Nothing changes how I feel about her. I'm scared she's killin' herself over this and I don't know what to do anymore.
"I try bein' there and feedin' her, but she's like a zombie or somethin' and it's not Cat. I don't know how to get her back."
"She won't be the same woman before. The loss of a child takes a toll, one I'm sure you understand. Give her more time and keep doin' what you can for her. She'll come back to you."
It was quiet, so I assumed Tim was nodding.
"If either of you need anything, please call me or Eric. We'd be more than happy to help where we can. Even if y'all need to talk to someone, we'll listen."
"Thanks, Mrs. T."
"Take care of each other."
The front door shut softly.
I heard Tim take off his boots and make his way over to me. He touched my back, the muscles twitching. He whispered my name while brushing his fingers through my tangled hair.
Finally, I faked waking up and turned onto my back to stare up at Tim.
He smiled softly. "How are you feelin'?"
Tim sat in front of the couch, laying his chin on the edge by my face. "Mrs. T. told me you ate a little."
"I'm glad." He frowned. "Do you really think I won't want to be with you if you can't have a baby?"
I didn't want to, but I nodded.
"I wanted you back when you scared my teammates wavin' that bat around like a madwoman. I wanted you every time I was with another girl and you were havin' fun in Italy. I wanted you while I was in prison. I want you now. I'll want you when you graduate; when you're old and cranky. I don't plan on wantin' anyone or anything as much as I want you... as much as I love you. And I'll remind you every day if it'll help, Cat. It's the easiest job I have as your husband, ya know."
My lip trembled and I glared into space to stop the need to cry. I was sick of it.
Tim rubbed his thumb along my hairline a few times. "I hope that isn't for me."
"I'm tired of cryin'."
"I didn't mean to make you cry. You can if you need to."
"Everything makes me cry."
Tim kissed my forehead. "Do you feel up to talkin' about your night with Coach's wife?"
I studied his face. We did so little talking since the news. I needed to talk to him. So I did.
With timid steps, I walked down the hall to the door I hadn't set foot in since losing the baby. I hesitated at the handle but coaxed my hand to twist it.
The room was empty minus the rocking chair we found at a thrift store. We never had the chance to buy anything else. It was like God kept us from getting more because He kept us too busy to shop. It hurt to experience the loss, but I was thankful to have so little attached to the baby's memory. He knew I would have fallen into a place I wouldn't come back from.
I sat in the chair, listening to the creaks. It was welcoming, familiar. Using my toes, I pushed it back and forth at a steady pace. My eyes shut and I let my imagination run.
The room filled with the crib, a changing station, a bookshelf with toys and baby books. All the things I would have had appeared there along with the little baby in my arms.
I wanted the baby to be a girl because I wanted to watch Tim fall in love with her as a good father should.
She would have had a mop of brown, fuzzy hair on her tiny head. Her eyes would look just like Tim's, but her face would be shaped like mine. She would have been perfect in every way.
I opened my eyes and was sitting back in the empty room. Instead of crying, I stood and searched for my sketchbook. I found it and my sketching pencils. I almost wanted to skip back to the room, a renewed giddiness in my heart.
If I couldn't give Tim a physical baby, I'd give him the image of her.
He found me still in the room once he got home. Half done sketches were scattered around me as I put the finishing touches on the one in my lap. Tim was taken aback when I smiled up at him.
"What brought you in here?"
"I needed to see it. I needed to see what it would have looked like having a baby." I stood up with my sketchbook. "I want to give you something." I held the book out to him, the sketch facedown.
He took it from my hands and turned it over. Tim paused, his eyes scanning the page in wonder. "Is this...?"
I nodded. "I know we didn't know if it was a boy or girl, but I'd like to imagine it would have been a girl. I saw her in my head and wanted to give her to you even if she's on paper."
Tim brushed my hair behind my ear before gathering me up in his arms and kissed me like he did back in Mexico. He left me breathless when he studied my face. "She's beautiful, Cat."
Tears gathered in our eyes as we gazed at each other.
We'd never be the same again after losing our baby. We had our good days and our bad days, me suffering more often than Tim. But we took each day as it came and we became stronger.
And that's the end! There's some editing that will be done in the future, but I have no idea when that will be. I hope you enjoyed this spur of the moment story I never expected to write. Much love! - S. M. Graham