Charlie started to cry during breakfast, tears cascaded from his innocent brown eyes.
Nothing that his favorite toy elephant, Meelo, couldn't fix though. As he grasped the elephant by the tag with his tiny little fingers, you could see joy slowly come rushing back.
He had eyes just like mine and a similar dislike of eating cruciferous vegetables.
But his smile. His smile he gets from his father. A smile that could somehow make you forget your worries. A smile I have not seen from Danny in a long time.
Danny was making coffee while Charlie continued to gnaw on Meelo. Charlie’s teeth were starting to come in and that wasn’t great news for Meelo.
“One more bite of food and then we’ll go and visit mom.” Danny said as he waved the spoon in the air like a bird.
There were tulips waiting by the door. They were a beautiful hue of purple and blue; my favorite colors.
Charlie started to cry again. He had dropped poor Meelo on the kitchen floor.
I could not help you, my beautiful boy. I could only wait as Danny finally heard your cry from across the room.
“Meelo doesn’t really like the floor, kiddo. He likes it right here next to you.” Danny said softly as he tucked Meelo in Charlie’s arms again.
“Let’s get you dressed. We both need to look extra handsome today.” Danny said as he picked up the now tranquil Charlie.
A portrait of our last photo together as a family hung in the entryway near Charlie’s room.
Charlie had grown so much since that photo. His eyes were still unchanged however. Still as bright and brown as the minute I first saw them open.
I wore my favorite indigo dress for that portrait. It looked loose and oversized that day as my treatments were already affecting my weight. But I made sure to smile. Why wouldn't I smile? At that moment I knew I was with the two men I loved the most in my life. Danny managed to pop a grin in the portrait as well. Just convincing enough to hide his inner emotions.
“Look how handsome we both look.” Danny muttered as he carried Charlie in front of the closet mirror. Charlie waved Meelo as though he was agreeing.
Charlie cooed as Danny picked up the flowers by the door. As they both exited the apartment and descended the stairs, I remembered when I first carried Charlie up those steps.
I also recalled the first time going up with Danny with our new keys and complaining to him about the lack of an elevator.
But now, I would climb an infinite amount of steps just to place my hand on both their cheeks again. To hold their hands. To kiss their foreheads. To tell them both how much I love them.
“You’re all buckled in, kiddo.” Danny said as he secured Charlie in his car seat.
Danny got into the car as I watched him from the passenger side. He started the engine and looked back at Charlie one more time to check on him. He had fallen sound asleep.
Danny gazed towards the passenger seat and sighed.
As we drove through town, we passed by the places that we would often frequent. The small pizza place that we would stop by after a long day of work. The hair salon that I swore to never go back to after they ruined my hair. The toy store that we bought Meelo from. The church where I promised to spend my life with Danny.
When we arrived at the cemetery, Danny parked the car and took a deep breath. Charlie was still fast asleep.
“I can do this.” Danny said softly.
Danny unbuckled his safety belt and headed towards the back seat. He unfastened Charlie who was still half asleep grasping Meelo. He picked up the flowers and Charlie and made his way down a beautiful road bristled with wildflowers.
“We’re here, honey.” Danny whispered as laid down the beautiful flowers next to a headstone with my name on it.
Danny placed a blanket on the grass near the headstone. Charlie was awake now and gave his father an adoring smile.
“You have your mother’s eyes.” Danny whispered as he tousled Charlie’s hair.
Danny walked up to touch the picture of me left next to the headstone.
“I’ve been taking good care of our boy the best I can, honey.” Danny said softly as he began to fall on his knees.
“I wish you here. I wish you were sitting here with us enjoying this beautiful day.” He said with tears running down his eyes.
“I’ve missed you everyday since...since..” Danny cried as he lowered his head on the cold headstone.
“I thought that somehow it would get easier. But it’s a struggle every single day. To wake up without you next to me. To realize that our son is going to grow up in a world without his amazing mother.” Danny whimpered, covered in tears.
“I know I have the strength, but I just..” Danny’s voice breaks.
I kneel next to him and reach out to touch his now tear soaked cheeks. I would do anything just to comfort him. To let him know how much I’ve missed him and my boy. To let him know that I’m always with them.
Charlie starts to cry seeing the state of his father and throws Meelo on the ground.
Danny stands up and wipes the remaining drops of tears on his cheeks. He picks up Meelo and puts it next to Charlie again.
“I’m sorry, kiddo. Dad was just talking to mom for a second.” Danny said as he picked up Charlie.
“I guess we both really miss your mom, huh?” Danny said as Charlie started to calm down.
Charlie then started to chuckle and wave Meelo at the direction I was standing.
Danny looked towards my direction and then looked back at Charlie. Charlie was beaming. It was with the smile he got from his father.
My boy was smiling. Smiling at me.
Danny smiled and also looked in my direction and back again to Charlie.
“So you were here.” Danny said softly to the wind as Charlie continued to chuckle.