Wondering if I’ll ever sleep again, I’m stunned by her casual announcement. But at the same time, I feel relief.
It’s been so long, and god knows we’ve been trying for another baby since little Max came along.
“I’m not going anywhere either,” I tell her. “You can tell our patient I’ll be giving her a thorough work-up in the morning,” I whisper back to her.
Looking down at her sweet face, her lips curling into a smile, she finally drifts into sleep.
“I love you, Mandy and Max. Love you too, little one,” I add, keeping my hand on my wife’s belly.
Getting the best night’s sleep I’ve had in ages.
THREE YEARS LATER
“Foxx?” I call out. “Make sure you stay where I can see you both,” I tease him. Knowing the man’s size means I could probably see him from a mile away.
They’ll be fine, Mandy. Foxx knows what he’s doing. I remind myself. As if I need reminding.
The not-so-tiny boat that Foxx built in his spare time, with little Max helping him every step of the way, has been tested and has finally been launched today.
The S.S. Mandy.
Not my idea, by the way, but it’s just the sort of thing Foxx does.
He’ll build or make something, making sure to name it after one of the kids or me.
Even the dogs have their own personalized kennels.
The lake’s right by the holiday house we spend a few months of the year in. All the main rooms have a view of the lake, and it’s the only place we’ve ever gone for a vacation.
With a perfect view and nobody for miles around, why would we go anywhere else?
Foxx and I still go to the city for our anniversary, and old Mrs. Peters insists she watch the kids for half the day while Foxx and I revisit that special something that blazes bright between us every second of every day in the other half.
But it makes me remember where we started.
It still makes my heart lift whenever I see or think about the place, remembering how Foxx and I first met.
It’s a perfect spring day on the lake today, though, with the warm sun high in the sky.
The heady scent of the wilderness fills my nose, and the sounds of nature soothe a mother’s instinctive concerns.
Foxx hears me fine, and they’re only a little way out. And the water is only as deep as his waist.
But Foxx still gives me a reassuring wave as I sit on the back porch with the twins, Josh and Tabitha.
They’re too little to go on the boat and take more after their mommy, who doesn’t like being on the water. So both twins are content to sit with their mommy, watching their daddy and brother.
I’ve got one twin on each knee as I hug them close, pointing out Max and daddy, narrating the experience for their little ears.
‘Little’ Max, though? The thought makes me smile.
It’s like he’s a cardboard cutout of his daddy. He’s a mirror image, with Foxx’s penetrating eyes and a shock of dark hair he refuses to have cut.
At four years old, he looks and acts like he’s eight, and I watch with a fresh tear of joy in my eye as Max talks at length with his dad about the best way to do things.
Foxx listens patiently, taking in everything his young man and second mate on the S.S Mandy tells him.
Our three dogs, one for each child, pace and yap at the shore of the pristine lake, Foxx gently calling out to them that they can have a ride in the boat after Max.
It’s a sailboat, and once Foxx unfurls the canvas sail he stitched by hand, all three of us on the porch gasp as the gleaming white cloth glitters and fills with a gust of wind that looks as though Foxx himself summoned it.
I choke up, wondering how much more that man can amaze me with his skill or love for his family.
On the sail, he’s stitched all of our names in large, bold letters.
A family crest is at the bottom, and plenty of room is left for more names to be added.
Foxx gives a loud call and waves again. Then, pressing his fingers to his lips, he blows all of us a big kiss.
“Love you!” he calls out, and Max copies his dad. And not just because he admires his dad as much as we all do, but because he feels the same.
My little man and my big man.
My babies in my arms.
To think I was worried about how I looked, where I lived, and what I did for money just a few short years ago.
Destiny. That’s what it is.
Everything in its place, and everything waiting to be discovered when the time is right.
Someone at the clinic Foxx set up in town asked me the other day if life could get any better for Foxx and me. For our family. Even for the whole town.