A/N: This is it. It's been a great ride. Thank you so much for reading!
Chapter 28: To the Moon and Back
Ice cream was a big hit. The kids were hopped up on sugar afterward and had demanded an impromptu dance party after they got home. Michael had turned on the stereo and they had spun and jumped and dance until the kids were ready to collapse. Then he put on "Sway" and pushed the kids onto the couch. They danced and she rested her head on his chest. He held her close and it was nice. The kids had sat together whispering and tried to cover up their giggles. They did the typical story time routine and put the little ones to bed.
After that they had talked, just the two of them, honest to goodness talked for the first time in she can't remember how long. No yelling, screaming, or passive aggressive whispers. Michael set a limit on how many times a month he'd go out of town. In return Kennedy promised to stop working any extra overtime. He swore he would never use her want or lack thereof of children against her, knowing she did want Brandon and Emily. She agreed to lay off on all the petty complaints. They kissed and settled on the couch to watch the news together.
Michael had gone upstairs to spend some time in the study before going to bed. So Kennedy had decided to indulge her favorite habit.
She stands in the doorway for a minute. The opening lets in light from the hallway and streams across his navy blue comforter. She can see his curly brown hair and resists the urge to run her hand over it. Kennedy steps in and closes the door. She carefully makes her way to the bed stepping around a soccer ball, a train track, and plastic bugs. She fixes the dinosaur print sheets tucking him in and decides they need to make Brandon clean his room up more often.
"I love you buddy," she whispers letting her fingers stroke his cheek.
When she leaves his room she sighs and sinks down along the wall. Sitting with her knees pulled up to her chest she thinks about how much she loves that boy. Parker had already had a little girl but he was her parent's first grandson. All her Daddy could do was rave about taking him to hockey games. He was also Ange and Jack's first grandchild and to say they spoiled him would be undeniably true.
He was perfect. Brandon looked just like Michael, stunningly handsome. He crawled early, had a developed vocabulary at 3 like she had. They had been so pleased. Everything he did was magical, first steps, they went crazy like no one had ever walked before. They called the grandparents, Parker, Alex. Lex had been sweet the first 10 minutes and then ran out of patience as Michael rambled on for another 20 minutes. "He hadn't even seen it," Alex whined to her in private later. But he had heard the patter on the wood and felt Brandon collapse in his arms after beginning beside Kennedy.
Brandon had inherited his grandfather's love of sports. Kicking a ball, swinging a bat, riding his bike, he was naturally athletic. God, they'd gone wild the first time he scored a goal. He could add simple numbers and read Dr. Seuss books. Everything about him was incredible. He was sweet and included Emily in most things even when he huffed about it. In some ways this reminded her of Michael and Sophia's relationship. He was mischievous and loved to try and freak her out with bugs. Emily often ended up running to her in terror. He was kind and helpful, never failing to put his dishes in the dishwasher and attempt to make his bed in the morning.
Brandon gave her the best hugs. She was head over heels in love with her little boy.
She stood up and walked down to the next door. A princess was sleeping inside, and though she loved both equally, she couldn't deny the love was different.
The room was a soft purple with deep cherry wood furniture. Unlike Brandon's you could see the floor. All the dollies were fast asleep in their beds and all the stuffed animals were piled on Em's bed. Kennedy could see Emily's chest rising and falling peacefully with each breath. She was clutching a tan teddy bear close and had a soft blanket nested around her neck and face. Her hair cascaded across her pillow in ringlets Kennedy could only wish for. Her sheets were tangled and the covers strewn about and Kennedy promptly straightened them. Then she ran her hair once through Emily's hair and lightly kissed her cheek.
"I love you kiddo," she cooed slowly backing out of the little girl's room.
Kennedy couldn't believe her baby was four. It was crazy how fast she had grown up. It seemed like days ago that she had first seen that blob on the ultrasound. She and Michael had agreed on two kids, this was their last one. She had gotten pregnant faster than they expected. Her thoughts had flown after learning it was a girl. She had savored the cuddles and sweet baby smell.
When Emily learned to walk, a bit of the excitement was missing. Her baby could now squirm away from hugs that interrupted her playing. She was a little chatterbox and the tea parties and baby dolls Kennedy had pictured were coming true. She was treasuring the time before Em made lots of friends and turned away from her kisses in public like Brandon was beginning to. Emily had inherited Michael's gift for music. It amazed her to see that little bitty girl sit up straight at the piano and play music that would be advanced for an eight year old.
She appreciated still being about to carry Emily for extended periods of time in her arms. She cherished the butterfly kisses and off the wall questions of the toddler age. She loved taking naps together all snuggled up. Brandon claimed he was too old for the whole naptime but occasionally he still joined them. Em loved Easy Bake oven, painting, and was begging to start gymnastics.
The last one was on Michael for showing Emmy a video of Kennedy from year ago. It was kind of funny considering she still had no idea of how firm Michael's grasp on what went on during gymnastics was. He could hear the piano but it was hard to describe gymnastics. Though he had followed her tracing her body when they were about 10. She tried to go slow and was super paranoid she'd accidently kick him.
Emily was her little love, and as much as she couldn't wait for school, swim lessons, bike rides without training wheels, shopping trip, and more she wanted her to stay little, to giggle and crack the funniest jokes, and smile with her perfectly straight baby teeth.
Emily, her sweetheart, gave the best kisses, big smooches with puckered lips. Kennedy was so in love with her baby girl.
She walked into the office thinking about the differences between them. Not just gender but everything. Brandon had transformed them from self-absorbed young adults into doting parents. His arrival had brought massive change to their lives. Snuggled, worried over that maybe they didn't totally have the parenting thing down yet. It was odd to think Parker had once changed her Dad's life like this. Michael had changed Ange and Jack's. In contrast, she, Sophia, and Lex had been the youngest. Cuddled with the knowledge that this baby stage wouldn't last much longer.
Brandon had two extra years as an only child during the formative baby years. Emily wouldn't be an only until he left for college, god. Then for two teenage years she would have individual time. When she left years from now they'd be empty nesters. Her departure like his arrival would change everything. And as her Mom had told her, the baby would be missed the most. The catapult into parenting would abruptly end leaving her home quiet. But for now her two precious children were sleeping peacefully in their beds. Tomorrow there would be squealing, bickering, laughter, chatter, her house would be full, it would be a home.
"Let's go to bed Michael," she whispers in his ear resting a hand on his shoulder.
He rises and follows her agreeably, kissing her sweetly before slipping under the covers.
She gets in and cuddles up as Michael wraps his arm around her snugly.
"Guess how much I love you?" he whispers, pressing a kiss to the top of her head.
She thinks of Emily's response "So, so much. More than anything else in the world." and Brandon's "all the way up to the stars and further than you can see them".
But for her there has always been only one answer, "To the moon and back".
"A first child is your own best foot forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world. But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after-oh, that' s love by a different name." ― Barbara Kingsolver
A/N: I hope you enjoyed it! Whether you are reading right after I post this or quite a while after please leave me with your final thoughts. I am so grateful that you read this story. Let me know your favorite chapter. :) Thanks.
Love you guys!