Jared was humming as he was cooking. As he let the steaks fry, he walked to the dining room, setting the roses he had bought earlier, all over the table. Each one had its own small vase and candle. He was excited. It was the first time he had gotten to cook for Becca on their anniversary since they were married.
He was humming the anniversary song as he walked back to the kitchen to take the steaks out of the pan. He started to make white gravy as the phone rang.
He glanced at the clock, it was 9:24 p.m. she should be home soon he thought as he answered the phone. "Hello?"
Honey, it's me. My layover has been extended." Becca was in tears and he could hear it.
"Baby, that's alright. We can just celebrate a little later. Things happen and it's ok. How did the recital go?" He asked as he stirred the gravy and checked on the baked potatoes.
"Honey, she was amazing. She decided to stay with mom for a few days since she doesn't get to see her much." Becca sobbed but caught herself.
"What instrument did she play?" He was trying to keep her mind off of being upset for not being home right now.
"She played the flute and the clarinet. I didn't know she was going to do both. But she was amazing, she killed it." Becca's smile was a proud one.
Some of the people in the airport were looking her way. "Baby, there was just an announcement and I didnt hear it. I will call you back in a few minutes. I hope it was that we are leaving." Her words were fast as she was excited to possibly be going home.
"Ok baby. Let me know. I love you."
"I love you too." Becca made sobby, kissy sounds on the phone as she hung up.
Jared kept cooking and was so carefree at that moment. He finally got the corn done and sat it in the oven to stay warm.
The phone rang again and he answered. "Baby?"
"Yes, it's me," she cried. "We are boarding now. I'm coming home. I know it's only been a few days, but I miss you so much."
"I miss you too baby. This is the last layover of your flight, you will be home in only an hour. I have an Uber ready when you get off the plane. I love you."
Jared smiled into the phone. Becca was the love of his life. He wondered how he was even able to marry again. He and Trish, his first wife, had divorced suddenly after only 2 years of marriage. Becca was his angel. He was engulfed in her light the first time he saw her.
He had everything ready and in the oven staying warm. He knew she would be late but he didn't care, he just wanted to celebrate with her.
His phone rang and made him snap awake. He must have dozed off. Looking at the clock, 11:46 p.m. he said "hello?"
"Mr. Ericson?" The voice on the other end asked.
"Um, yes." He hesitantly declared.
"My name is Edward Mendoza, I am an EMT. We have your wife on the way to the hospital."
Jared stood up, worry etched in his face. "What, where? What happened?"
"Her Uber driver swerved to miss a car coming into their lane, he wasn't successful. The Uber driver was pronounced deceased at the scene and the other driver was taken to jail. He was drunk Mr. Ericson."
"Oh, God!" Jared broke down, dropping the phone. Before he knew it, he was on his knees and grabbing for the phone.
"She wants to talk to you," Edward told him.
"Ok, what hospital are you taking her to?" Jared asked running to his car.
"We have a care flight on its way, so she is going to Baylor," Edward said apologetically.
"Hey honey," he heard Becca's weak voice "I was trying to get home to you."
"It's ok baby. But im on my way to see you." His tears were hard to keep at bay and she could hear that he was trying not to cry.
"Tell me what we were going to do for our anniversary," Becca asked, sounding weaker each second.
She is so strong, he thought. She's more worried about me crying than herself. As his voice faltered a bit, he told her of his love for her. Then he said, "I thought I would cook us dinner at home. Your favorite."
"Mmmm." She said. "Ch-chicken Fri-fried st-st-steak." She said. "I'm scared, J-Jared." She whimpered.
"It's ok, Baby. I'm on my way." But he knew it wasn't ok. They didn't just let someone talk to their husband after a wreck for nothing.
Jared ran into the hospital. Then he was checking the steaks. Everything was in a blur, what he was seeing. Then, he woke.
The bags under his eyes were a sure sign of his worry and tears. He felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked back and it was Heather, their daughter. "Mimi brought me as soon as we got off the phone," she said. Took us 9 hours but Poppa drove safe."
Jared's tears were forming again as he looked at his daughter with so much sadness and grief. She was so grown up for a 16-year-old. She grabbed her dad and he sank into her shoulder and cried.
"I miss her. She is my everything." Jared sobbed.
He turned and looked at all the memories around the living room. Heather was picking up random pictures and showing her dad. Some made them laugh and some made them cry, but most of all, they made them remember Becca. Heather spent her days at school, while Jared went back and forth to the hospital only coming home long enough to check on Heather. Her Mimi had stayed, to help with Heather and things around the house. She didn't want to go home without a word of how her daughter, Becca, was doing.
Jared was doing his best to make it through. It's not every day your wife is put on the phone in an ambulance and when you get to the hospital, she is in a coma.
Jared walked into the room. She was still on a respirator and in a coma. M
Leaning down, he kissed her on the forehead. "I love you, Becca." He said as he sat beside her. He pulled Becca's favorite framed picture of their perfect wedding day from his bag.
He was carrying her to the limo, ice was on the ground and they were in mid slip, as Becca would say. The photographer was able to catch the perfect look of surprise on their faces. Becca used to grab the photo and say, "This is exactly how we fell in love so we did it again after the wedding ceremony." And then she would laugh and fall onto his lap.
Jared rubbed his hand across the picture, holding Becca's hand, tears glistened in his eyes as he looked up and out the window hoping to still have his Becca for a long time.