When Christine met her mother in the lobby, she smiled her first real smile of the day. "Okay, Mom, we are all done! Do you mind taking me to the grocery store before we pick up Michael?"
"Sure sweety, I would love to do that with you. What time do we need to pick him up?"
"He gets done at six o clock. It is five now and I just need a few things. The store is on the way. Thanks again for driving me arouond today."
When they arrived to pick up Michael, it was a few minutes after six o clock. The teacher was very unhappy, thinking that there would be a repeat of the week before. Even though there were other parents still arriving to pick up their children, he made a point to remind Christine that he needed all children to be picked up promptly when class ended at six o clock. He kept glancing at her neck brace, and Christine kept her comments to herslef, not needing to make the situation any more stressful than it was. She smiled at him tightly, took Michael's hand and bag, and walked out to her mom's car.
He was very excited to see her and insisted on giving her an extra big hug before getting into the car. She bent down awkwardly and gave him a kiss on the top of his head, then told him that they needed to get going and helped him into the car. He said hi to Alice and then put on his seatbelt.
"Are we going to your house, Ms. Alice?" Michael asked excitedly.
"No, sweety, we are going to my apartment. Your Dad will be coming to get you at bedtime. Do you want some chicked nuggets for dinner?" She smiled, knowing his answer would be one of excitement.
"You bet! I love chicken nuggets, Chrissy!" He was the only one who called her that, and it gave her a sense of peace. She asked him questions about his day, about his school work and about his fencing lessons. The three of them chatted comfortably, just like everything was normal, just like Christine needed.
When they arrived home, Alice offered to do the cooking so that Christine could relax with Michael. She had noticed how worn out Christine had looked earlier in the day, and was glad that she could be happy and content with such a precious boy around. They ate dinner and Michael told them a story that had the two women laughing with great enjoyment.
Christine had been afraid thta she would lose something with Michael when she forgot to pick him up last week. But obviously, he knew that she cared. There was trust and comfort in their relationship, and she was glad to know it was one thing she had not ruined. Yet. What if these changes in her life caused her to be away from him? Christine attempted to brush the thoughts away, not letting them interfere with this moment.
After dinner, Alice went home and the two of them worked on Michael's reading assignments while they waited for Chad to finish with his class. When he arrived, he found his son and fiance asleep on the couch, cuddling with the book in front of them. After watching them for a few moments, he went and woke Chritisne up by touching her arm.
"Hey, honey. Can I talk to you?" He helped her adjust Michael so that he was leaning on the pillows, still asleep, and they went into the kitchen. Chad was very quiet and serious, more so than usual.
"Christine, I do not know what your day has been like, but you are really worrying me. i spent most of the day today thinking about you and trying to figure out what is best for all of us. We need to figure out if you need help or you... need to be alone. Or whatever is going on." He looked into her eyes earnestly while he spoke, basically pleading for her to give him a positive response. She returned his gaze and spoke seriously in turn.
"Chad, I know that things are rough. I am seeing a counselor- the one the hospital assigned me, and I am trying to figure things out. Maybe I need some space, maybe I need some time." She paused, not sure where exactly she was going with the conversation. "But I love you. And I love Michael. I really am working on figuring things out. And getting things right in my life. Please do not lose hope in me." She frowned at him, asking with her body language if he would be willing to do that.
He seemed surprised to have her actually answer him. It felt like he had been asking questions of her all week without any acknowledgement. All day he had been on edge wondering what the next conversation would be. He needed to be with someone he could count on - it was absolutely important to him. Just having her acknowledge that he had been asking and she had been listening was enough for him to move on to the next day, the next step, the next move for their life. He accepted her request with a nod and a smile.