Michael set the steaming cup on the bedside table and bent over his wife. Brushing aside a tendril of sandy hair, he touched his lips to her forehead. A faint whiff of vanilla drifted upward and he closed his eyes, breathing in the familiar scent. She didn’t stir.
“Bye, Cupcake; have a great day.” Grabbing his coffee, he motioned to the night nurse waiting in the wings. “How is she?” he said under his breath. “Any changes?”
“No, she’s the same. You keep praying, though, Mr. Anderson. There’s always hope.”
Hope. How many times in the past year had he heard that word? Still, what was left? If he couldn’t hold on to that, he’d go crazy.
Besides their many dreams, they’d planned on raising a bunch of little Andersons as soon as possible – a gaggle of them. They’d even bought the old Johnson place – the one with the huge fenced-in yard, five bedrooms and a tire dangling from a rope on the huge elm out back.
Michael smiled at a memory of his beloved, covered in paint spatters, insisting that he practice carrying her over the threshold. He’d scooped her up and climbed the ten steps, each creaking in protest at their combined weight. At the top, the door stuck and he bludgeoned it with his shoulder. They’d toppled together to the floor when it flew open, Amy still in his arms. He kissed her then and she let him. A deep kiss, full of promise, that stirred the very depths of his soul. Pulling apart, they’d held their affections in check, not from lack of passion but because of it. It would make their wedding day that much sweeter.
Their wedding day… They’d slipped away from the reception early, heading to the Queen Anne house to spend their first night together. It must have been the stars in his eyes that blinded him for he hadn’t seen the car that ran the light. The screech of brakes and the crunching of metal were the last sounds he’d heard before blackness rolled over him like a shroud. Now, Amy hung in a coma, her life a heartbeat from eternity. But hope moved him forward.
With the back of his hand, he swept at the wetness on his face.
That night, he finished the last of the renovations. Standing back, he admired the refinished floor in the sunroom, than flipped off the light, ready for bed. The wood shimmered like a glossy lake of crystal in the moonlight. “I wish you could see this, Cupcake. It’s a great room for kids.”
On his knees that night, he prayed. “Please God, bring her back. She has so much to give. You said yourself that hope deferred makes the heart sick.* Help me to wait on your timing.”
Michael fell asleep and dreamed. Children’s voices screamed in delight, a dog barked and a tea kettle whistled. He tripped over toys strewn like breadcrumbs throughout the rooms. In the kitchen, Amy stood with a baby on her hip and a toddler clinging to her leg. Judging from the inviting smell, she’d been baking chocolate chip cookies.
His heart skipped a beat at the sight of her. Her dimpled smile took his breath and left him weak in the knees. Setting the baby down, she snuggled in his arms, lifting her face to receive his kiss. His mouth covered hers and…
…the phone rang, shattering the intimate moment.
“Mr. Anderson, sorry to call you so late but, uh, you need to come right away.” The phone went dead in his hand.
Bleary-eyed, he pushed open the hospital door, the smell of antiseptic assaulting his senses.
Amy’s eyes were open. “I had a dream,” she said, a weak smile playing at her mouth. “There were kids all over the place and I was baking cookies. And the house was all finished.” She looked puzzled.
Michael took her hand and laced his fingers through hers.
“Only – how can that be?” she asked. “I don’t remember you carrying me over the threshold.”
He squeezed her hand and grinned through his tears. “All in God’s time, Cupcake; all in God’s time.”
* Proverbs 13:12
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