I leaned back on my knees, pushing my fists into my lower back to ease the tightness in my spine. I brushed my hair off my forehead with the back of my forearm as I looked over my projects for the day. I had already filled the pots on the back porch with fuchsia and white geraniums along with petunias. Now it was time for my babies. My irises and tulips needs some TLC after our long winter, they were just coming out of hibernation and beginning to grow again. I smiled wistfully, much like my precious baby boy.
I missed him so much. I knew he was still in there somewhere. I refused to give up hope. We were so close when he was young. I know Carlisle didn’t wipe out everything I taught him. Compassion was in his nature, and it was still there, in his dormant, frozen heart. He was a gentleman, but it got lost along the way. All of it- it was just waiting for the sunshine to thaw the ground so it could grow again. Bloom, even. Finally. I knew Bella was his sunshine. I could see how much he was beginning to love her. My boys were all going to be blessed with real love, not the imitated version their father taught them. Edward was desperately trying to find his way back from the prison Carlisle put his mind in.
Jasper was trying so hard to help him. It was like watching him learn to walk all over again. Edward was by far the most stubborn of my boys. He walked early, but only after earning repeated bruises because he refused help from anyone. Even at 9 months he was going to figure everything out for himself. He knows he needs help, but his natural abhorrence to guidance refuses to welcome the help offered to him. Jasper and I have had many talks about the best way for him to reach Edward. He tried to help him on his own at first, but it resulted in failure as Edward saw everything as an attack. He has never admitted he was wrong about anything in life. If he made a mistake growing up he would debate with you until he had you convinced that it was what he planned all along. Jasper was finally getting through to him now. He told me Edward has called him a couple of times from Phoenix for advice.
I prayed this trip to Phoenix would be a turning point for Edward. If he could just get away from his father for a while I knew it would be easier for Bella to get him to drop his guard. She was already reaching him even if she wasn’t aware. I’m his mother, and I could see the subtle differences in him soon after she came here. He didn’t carry himself as stiff any longer. He wasn’t so formal and detached when he spoke. He smiled more. I noticed that he likes to lie on the sofa on Sunday afternoons with his head in Bella’s lap. I’ve even seen him dose off; she eases him so much. He’s learned to relax.
Not only does my youngest have a kind heart, he’s a natural caretaker. He will be a fantastic doctor, better than his father because of his compassion. I first saw a glimpse of the Edward I love when Bella was attacked. It was as if he was another person, just being there for a loved one. His loved one. Bella was in need, and he met them. He refused to leave her alone those first few days even though it angered Carlisle. I still don’t understand how Edward can’t see that she needs professional help after everything she’s been through. Between the accident, losing her parents and being uprooted across the country… to being brutally molested and raped by her father, brother, and his friend…knowing her life is altered from everything she’s been raised to expect. She’s had her entire life ripped from her. I guess Renee accomplished what she always hoped; Bella was by far the strongest young woman I have ever met. I’m just afraid what will happen if she gets pushed beyond her endurance. I was constantly afraid for her wellbeing. I just don’t understand why Renee didn’t plan for the possibility of something happening to them. She was so thorough in her efforts to protect Bella, that’s why she left, even knowing how hard it would be to start over. Why didn’t she have a will or at least some life insurance so that Bella could stay in her home in Phoenix? Why didn’t she keep the evidence against Charlie and tell Bella about it so that she could prevent him from ever trying to enter her life again. None of that made sense to me...
Well, she was here now and I would help her and love her like my own daughter. I owed it to Renee to protect her daughter with my life. I wouldn’t fail her. I stopped Charlie from going after her that day by letting him find me in their house. I heard him mumbling to himself after she drove away, his anger building, he was seething. I saw him load his gun and grab his keys. I knew he was going to kill her and most likely Bella also. I gave him a new direction to focus his fury so that they would live. The physical scars have faded, but they were worth it and I would do it again for them. I only wish Carlisle hadn’t used my one true weakness against me. That was an emotional scar that I carry to this day and is just as painful today as it was 10 years ago. He destroyed my relationship with my sons. He took them away from me. He seperated them from my love, from their hearts. I got to see them everyday same as always, but they weren’t allowed to hug me or say they loved me ever again. They were to treat me as a stranger. A mere live-in housekeeper.
My relationship with Jasper has been restored for two years now. It’s been wonderful to see his love for Alice grow into a sweeping story, an epic romance. I was delighted that they really found each other. Just to be able to hold him in my arms again even though he was a grown man. My empty arms have ached over the years. I got the biggest surprise just three weeks ago.
I was sitting with Rosalie, keeping her company. She hated being on bed rest. I picked her up a couple of car magazines that she liked to read at the store to help keep her mind occupied. I was in her kitchen, cutting up a pineapple for her to snack on when Emmett came in. He went to check on Rosalie before entering. He stood at the counter drinking a bottle of water watching me.
“Hello Emmett,” I said. “Did you have a good day at the gym?”
“Yeah it was good. We were really busy,” he replied. He seemed distracted.
I put all the pineapple in a container and put it in the refrigerator. I pulled out two containers of strawberries to cut up next. I began to cut them up skillfully, slicing them horizontally instead of vertically so they looked like rings. I looked up at Emmett. He was still standing there just watching me. He had a distant look on his face.
He stared at the strawberries for a minute before looking up at me. “You used to buy Half & Half. Do you remember? To pour over the strawberries so we could eat them like cereal. We didn’t even have to share. You always bought a container for each of us. We could never agree on how we wanted them shaped. Jasper wanted them cut like apple slices and Edward wanted them so there were eight pieces for each strawberry. He said it made more strawberries that way”. He shook his head with a smirk on his face, “ Which is really stupid now that I think about it. It’s the same damn strawberry. How can it be more? I always wanted rings because they looked pretty.”
“Emmett?” I asked. “Is something wrong?”
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My giant, bear of a son had tears in his eyes.
He talked like he never heard me. “You came to every one of my football games. I could even hear you from the field yelling for me. You always made sure I knew you loved me even when Edward was little and sick all the time and needed so much of your attention. You made sure I felt wanted and safe. I never felt insecure of my place in your heart. Even after we were so horrible to you I knew you still loved me even though I didn’t let you show me. I love Rosie so much and she already loves this baby with all her heart. She’s being a real trooper, doing everything the doctor tells her to protect it. I could never take that love away from her. I could never hurt her like that. It’d kill me to cause her that kind of pain.”
He walked over to me and wrapped his arms around me. He buried his head in my shoulder and started sobbing as my arms went around him hugging him, rubbing soothing circles around his back.
“I’m so sorry, Momma. Please forgive me. I love you. You’re the best momma in the world. You gave us everything and we gave nothing in return,” he sobbed.
The dam broke in me. I wept for all the years lost from my son. I sobbed with joy that he was coming back to me now. He was becoming the man I raised him to be. I was so proud of him.
“Emmett, my precious child. I love you so very much. It’s all right. There is nothing to forgive. You were only a teenager and following your father’s rules. You couldn’t have done anything any differently. Please, put it behind you now. Don’t think on it ever again. You have a blessed life with Rose, your child… oh, my dear boy you’ll be such a wonderful father, I know it! Remember this when you raise your children. Boy or girl they need both parents to love and care for them. Protect them from the evils in the world. All the evils,” I stressed.
He nodded his head as I kissed each cheek and wrapped him back in my arms. He tightened his hold on me squeezing until I could barely breathe, but I knew he needed this as much as I did. I just held my breath until he felt secure again; I would hold it forever if that’s what he needed.
I was brought back to the present by the sound of Emmett’s jeep winding up the drive to pass the house on the way home. I heard him tap his horn twice to say ‘hello’ to me as he passed the backside of the garden. I glanced at my watch and smiled. It was only 2:00 and he was home already. He knew Alice was sitting with Rose today, but Rose hated being cooped up in the house. He had promised to take her for a drive to get her out of the house for a while. Alice and I had food prepared for them. He was taking her to the beach for a picnic as a surprise. I stood and walked to the bench nearby to grab my tea. As I took a sip I heard his jeep and his double honk to me again as they left.
I smiled looking over at my dogwoods that were in bloom again. Yes, they’re trees, but they were big and strong just like my Emmett. I laughed out loud. How else would you represent an 11 lb 4 oz baby than with a tree?