Chapter ONE-HUNDRED and NINETY-TWO
Wednesday morning — 9:45 A.M.
“How did it go?” Jill hugged Heather at the side door to the Castle.
“Okay, I guess,” Heather said. “Blane’s healthy, that’s what the doctor said at least. I mean, healthy enough to need a new liver.”
Heather’s face flushed with despair. Jill hugged her again and stepped aside so she could come in the Castle. They took the long stairwell to Jacob’s old apartment and passed through the bathroom to Jill and Jacob’s loft.
“What happened with Jeraine and Tanesha?” Heather followed Jill to their kitchen area.
“He has brain damage,” Jill said.
“We knew that,” Heather said.
“He didn’t,” Jill said. “It was really touching. He was afraid Tanesha would lose faith in him if he didn’t go to med school.”
“He didn’t know we already knew,” Heather said.
Jill nodded. She poured two cups of decaffeinated coffee and gave one to Heather.
“Did she tell him?”
Jill shook her head. She held up the milk and Heather nodded. Jill passed her the milk and Heather doctored in her coffee.
“Does he know about his money yet?” Heather asked.
“No,” Jill said. “Tanesha is adamant that he needs to find that out from Schmidty.”
“Why?” Heather asked. “I’d want to know right away. I mean, you’re not holding anything back from me, are you?”
“Never,” Jill said. “But Tanesha… You know, she’s been through this so many times. He seems to really get it now. But he’s never really understood the repercussions of his addiction. She’s hoping if he gets it one step at a time, it will sink in. I give in to my addiction, I get this response.”
“She’s afraid he’ll go back,” Heather nodded. “That makes sense.”
“I understand, I guess,” Jill sighed.
“Trevor?” Heather watched her friend’s face.
“It’s just one of those things,” Jill said. “What I wanted more than anything was for him to get better, to stop hitting me, to stop using drugs, and… the women…”
She looked around the loft.
“Even though I’m happy now, I mean, really, really happy now,” Jill said. “A tiny part of me still wishes Trevor had gotten better like he promised all those times.”
“I still wish my Dad would come home,” Heather said. “He’d meet me at some pricey place for lunch and tell me how sorry he was. He’d want to make it up to me and then would be there, day in and day out. He’d have sage advice from all of his world travels or that time he was stuck on a desert island or from being a monk. But…”
“Right,” Jill said. “Delphie says ‘The heart wants what the heart wants.’ I’m glad things turned out this way. I’m glad my heart wants this now.”
“My heart’s really happy too,” Heather said.
“And Tres?” Jill smiled. Heather blushed.
“I mean, poor Tanesha,” Heather’s eyes insisted on avoiding the topic of Tres Sierra. Jill smiled. “She keeps saying that as long as she has school, everything is all right. It seems to be helping them.”
“She’s not allowing herself to get to too dependent. It’s probably smart.”
“It’s funny though,” Heather said. “When I see them together, like this morning, they’re the picture of love. He can’t take his eyes off her and she radiates a joy she doesn’t have when he’s not here.”
“They’ve always been like that,” Jill said.
“I know,” Heather nodded.
The women fell silent while they drank their coffee.
“How’s Valerie?” Heather asked.
“Crazy,” Jill said. “She’s with Samantha. They were trying to decide what she should wear when she delivers. She’s in labor, right? And she’s trying on different outfits with her best friend. I had to leave because it was too surreal. Mike’s beside himself. He went for a run with Jake.”
“Sounds weird,” Heather said. “Was she mad we didn’t get all the cleaning done last night?”
“No,” Jill said. “You remember our housekeeping goddess, Rosa? She came early this morning right after you left. She looked at the space and made some calls. It’s now pristinely clean and they’re arguing over whether to paint the walls today or wait.”
“What I don’t get is who is going to deliver this baby?” Jill asked. “Tanesha’s agreed to help, but she could really get in trouble if something bad happens.”
“Why doesn’t she have Camila help her?” Heather asked.
“Camila?” Jill asked.
“She’s the mid-wife Blane works with,” Heather said.
“She’s the mid-wife Blane works with,” Jill repeated. “What are you talking about?”
“Oh, you don’t know?” Heather asked.
“Since we had Mack, Blane has been working with a mid-wife team,” Heather said. “One of them is really popular, everyone’s favorite. I don’t know if she’d have time, but she likes working with Blane. She sees mostly poor women who can’t afford to have their babies at the hospital. Blane helps assess the women and then helps with the delivery.”
“How does Blane help with the delivery?” Jill asked.
“With acupuncture,” Heather said. “Don’t you remember he gave me some when Mack came.”
Jill shook her head.
“No?” Heather asked. “I thought he did. We’ll have to ask.”
“Maybe I’m slow today, but you’re saying that Blane does acupuncture for…?”
“The pain,” Heather said. “I’ve been to a few births. It’s amazing. No pain, no tearing.”
“Oh you’ll love her,” Heather said. “Does Val speak Spanish? I mean, she speaks English but when she gets excited she’s all Spanish.”
“Celia made Val and Jacob learn when they were kids,” Jill said. “I’ve been trying to learn.”
“Me too,” Heather said.
“Me too,” Jill said. “You think Camila would deliver the twins?”
“I don’t see why not,” Heather said.
“Do you think we should just… you know, set it up?” Jill asked.
The women looked at each other for a moment while they evaluated what they knew about Valerie and her situation.
“Let’s call,” Jill said.
“We don’t know if Camila has time today,” Heather smiled.
“Plus, she can always say no. Do you think Blane will be up for it?”
“After shaking the anesthesia, he seems fine,” Heather said. “He’s at work with Aden right now. He wanted to work as much as he could before… well, we don’t know what will happen next. I’ll call him.”
“I love it when everything works out,” Jill smiled.
“It’s what my heart wants,” Heather took out her cell phone and started making calls.
“Mine too,” Jill smiled.
Wednesday morning — 10:15 A.M.
“I think this is really best,” Valerie said holding up a short floral summer dress. She was standing in the loft that served as her second closet above Mike’s painting studio in the carriage house behind the Castle.
“Good thinking,” Samantha smiled. “Just don’t wear panties.”
Hearing a noise, Valerie turned toward the door. Mike, Blane, and a small Latina woman were standing in the doorway.
“Hi,” Valerie said. “We finally decided on what to wear.”
The small woman furrowed her brow Valerie and said something under her breath to Blane. He nodded.
“Hey Sami, we think we’ve picked out just the right color to paint the office space,” Mike smiled. “Would you like to see?”
Samantha flashed him a look of relief.
“I’ll be right back,” Samantha leaned over to kiss Valerie’s cheek. “Love you Val.”
“Okay,” Valerie smiled at Samantha. She walked to Mike. He kissed her and left with Samantha. “Hi Blane. How are you feeling?”
“Hi Val,” Blane smiled. “This is my friend Camila. She’s a mid-wife that I work with. Together, we’ve helped deliver more than a hundred babies this year. I wondered if you might want her to help you with the baby.”
“Sure,” Valerie smiled. “When we get there, but I don’t think it will be for a long, long time. I’d understand if you don’t want to wait.”
“Why don’t you let us take a look?” Blane asked.
“Oh sure,” Valerie said. “We can go to the office with Sami. That way I can help pick out paint too.”
An involuntary groan escaped Valerie’s lips but her bright smile never faded. Blane nodded to Camila and took Valerie’s left side. Camila took Valerie’s right side. Together, they negotiated the loft stairwell and started down the brick path to the Castle. Tanesha ran out of the house to take Camila’s place. The midwife ran into the Castle. She stopped to talk to Jacob and they rushed inside.
“I love this time of year in the garden,” Valerie said. “Everything is so beautiful. You guys want to stay out here for a while?”
“I think they’re pretty anxious to get the paint color picked out,” Blane said.
“Okay,” Valerie said. “Let’s come out when we’re done.”
“You bet,” Tanesha said.
They helped Valerie up the spiral stair case and to the deck of their recently discovered office space. Tanesha opened the door and Valerie stepped through.
“Gosh, this is gorgeous,” Valerie said. “Really perfect. Everyone did such a nice job.”
“Hey Val,” Jacob said. “Why don’t you come in here so Camila can check you?”
“Okay,” Valerie beamed at him
Valerie stepped in the room. Before she could say or do anything, Jacob closed the door leaving her in the room with the midwife. Valerie panicked.
“Please,” Camila placed her hand on the examination table.
“Your baby is ready to be in the world,” Camila said. “Are you not ready for her?”
“I…” Valerie blinked at the small woman. She shook her head. “I…”
“Your brother thinks you don’t want to lose your mother again,” Camila said. “Is this true?”
“My mother came just a couple days ago and…” Valerie’s eyes welled with tears. “She…”
“I love my Mother very much too,” Camila said. “She came to me when I had my children. I didn’t want to have them so I could spend more time with her.”
Valerie walked to the exam table. With Camila’s help, she got on the table.
“What was your mother like?” Camila asked.
“My mother was… is… smart and kind,” Valerie smiled. “She worked really hard but she always had time for me. She’d wake me up every day and was there every night when I went to bed. When I left for college, she would call me every Sunday to remind me to do my laundry. I never thought for a moment that she didn’t love me, you know like most girls do. She was the source of everything I did.”
“But she never smothered,” Camila touched Valerie’s arm and she lay back on the table.
“Right,” Valerie said. “Everybody was jealous because I had such a great mother, and a great Dad but Mom was… I mean everyone loved her and…”
“You can’t bear to say good-bye again,” Camila said.
“My brother and Delphie, you know about them?” Valerie asked.
“Delphinium is well known to me,” Camila leaned over conspiratorially. “I sent my daughters to her when they were going to get married. She talked my youngest into waiting another year. Good thing too. Her boyfriend’s other girlfriend got pregnant.”
“She’s with a lovely young man,” Camila said. “When I heard about Blane, I went to see Delphie. Was he going to help me? My ladies? Sure enough. He’s been a miracle. Even the worse, most difficult pregnancies, he is there to make it all better – during and after.”
“What does Blane do?” Valerie asked.
“Acupuncture,” Camila said. “The little needles keep the pain away. Only healthy ladies and happy babies. Let me take a look.”
Valerie put her feet in the stirrups and scooted down.
“Jake and Delphie get to see Mom all the time,” Valerie said. “I haven’t seen her since she died… She practically raises Katy, that’s Jake’s daughter. But me… I…”
Fat tears dropped from Valerie’s eyes.
“You don’t want to lose her again,” Camila said.
“I can’t lose her again,” Valerie sobbed in earnest.
“It seems to me…,” Camila’s voice came from between her legs. “I’m going to feel around a bit.”
“Okay.” Valerie said between sobs.
“It seems to me that if your mother almost raises your brother’s daughter and Delphinium sees her all the time, she must be here a lot.”
“But you can’t see her.”
“I can’t see her,” Valerie said.
“And seeing her is the only thing that matters?”
“Do you feel your mother?” Camilla asked.
“Um…” Valerie said.
Camila’s head peeked out over Valerie’s legs.
“How do you know your husband loves you?” Camila asked. “I know your husband loves you. I could see it all over him. You?”
“He shows me every day,” Valerie said.
“But what about when you are at work in on a movie and he is here painting?” Camila asked. “What happens when he can’t show you?”
“I just know.”
“So why don’t you ‘just know’ your mother loves you and is around all the time?” Camila asked.
Camila disappeared again. When her head appeared again, her face held the question.
“Why don’t you know your mother is around all the time?” Camila repeated.
“I can’t see her,” Valerie said.
“Bah, seeing is not so important,” Camila said. “You think about it. I’m going to speak with Blane. Are you all right with having him help you?”
“I love Blane,” Valerie said. “I was hoping to help him today.”
“With the blood from the cord,” Camila said. “Yes, we will save more than one life today.”
“More than one life?”
“Your baby will die if she doesn’t enter this world soon,” Camila said. “You think. I’ll be right back.”
Valerie stared at the ceiling for a while then closed her eyes. When she opened them, Celia was leaning over her.
“I am always here, Val,” Celia said. “Why would I be anywhere else?”
“There’s not been a moment of your life that I haven’t been watching,” Celia said. “It’s much easier now.”
“I’m scared,” Valerie said.
“Every woman is scared the first time,” Celia said. “Blane will help. Camila is a God-send.”
“I can’t lose you again,” Valerie wept.
“You’ve never lost me,” Celia smiled.
“Val?” Mike peeked his head in. “Are you ready?”
“You’re sure?” Valerie asked her mother.
“I’m ready,” Valerie said.
“Let’s have a baby,” Camila said. Tanesha moved into the room to help. “Blane?”
Like a fresh wind, Blane followed Mike into the room. Samantha moved to the other side of Valerie. Blane picked up Valerie’s wrist to take her Chinese Medicine pulses.
“Is it okay now?” Delphie asked.
“Delphie!” Valerie held out her hands and Delphie rushed in the room.
“Where’s Dad?” Valerie asked. Blane took her wrist to feel her pulses in his own way.
Sam Lipson stuck his head in the room.
“Hi Daddy!” Valerie waved.
“Men out,” Camila said. “Except Blane.”
Mike kissed Valerie’s cheek and went out of the room.
“We take every thing off. Delphie?” Camila asked. “Samantha?”
With Dephie and Samantha’s help, Valerie undressed. Tanesha set a fleece blanket near Valerie’s head and checked her pillow.
“Blane?” Camila asked.
“I’m ready,” he said.
“You want the husband? Or no?” Camila asked.
“Yes,” Valerie said. “He’s my coach.”
Camila shrugged. She went to the door and called Mike. Very quietly, in Spanish, Camila gave him instructions. He asked a question and she responded. When he nodded, she let him in the room. He went to Val’s side. Tanesha moved behind Camila to assist.
“Let’s have a baby.”
The Denver Cereal will continue next week
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