No Tomorrow, Part 38

Noon – continued

With his back turned to her, she watched him, her hands clasped at her waist and tears filling her eyes. He was humming as he flipped the patties over and murmured compliments of beauty to them amidst his melody. She had spent fifty years married to this man and four years before that with him, listening to him hum and enjoy life to its fullest. But she still wanted more time. She didn’t feel as though fifty-four years was enough. She knew she would always want more time with him, but was grateful that they had made it to their fiftieth anniversary and that she hadn’t lost him to illness or accident already.

The sound of the doorbell broke into her thoughts and she hastily wiped away her tears to go answer the door. She didn’t want her children and grandchildren to see her crying. They would only worry, and she didn’t want that to happen.

“I’ve got it, honey,” she called out to her husband, seeing him turn towards the sound. “When you get a chance, could you help me carry all the food out?”

“Sure thing, sweetheart,” he called back as he turned back to the barbecue, resuming his humming.

Anna smiled and shook her head. That was just like Jacob. He didn’t like to take things too seriously. She was, as he had said numerous times during their arguments, serious enough for the two of them. They had made a great couple, balancing out and complimenting each other. She remembered that their friends and families had always thought they were a perfect couple. Now, most of those people had passed on, but she and Jacob still carried them in their hearts.

“Hello, everyone!” she cried out as she opened the door to her younger daughter and her family.

“Hi, Mom,” Callie said as she hugged Anna tightly and kissed her cheek. “Where’s Dad?”

“Out with the barbecue. Why don’t you join him, Evan?”

“Sure. I love a good grill.” Evan kissed her cheek and then made his way out into the backyard.

Anna hugged her two granddaughters and then turned curious eyes to the fifth person in their party. The young man looked weary and his eyes were a little haunted. She could tell he had seen much of the world in his short life. But, more than anything else, she was happy to see him and she thought she caught a glimmer of happiness in his eyes as he turned to look at her.

“I’ve missed you so much, Coop” she whispered fiercely as she hugged him tightly. “I didn’t think I would ever see you again, my darling boy.”

Cooper hugged her just as tightly. “I know, Grandma. I missed you, too. I’m sorry I was gone for so long.”

“Now, we’ll have none of that, young man,” Anna said, pulling away and holding him at arms’ length so she could study his tired face. “You’re home now and that’s all that matters. I don’t care where you were for two years or why you ran away. There’s not enough time left in the world for things like that. I’m just glad you’re home, where you belong.”

“Me, too.” He gave her a small, grateful smile. He had always liked his no nonsense grandmother.

Anna squeezed his hands, her eyes shining with unshed tears. Finding herself unable to say anything else, she only nodded and smiled at her grandson before sending him off to join the rest of the family in the backyard. She turned to watch him go, watching with tear-filled eyes as her lost grandson walked over to Jacob and embraced the old man. She knew Jacob was as happy as she was.

A few minutes later, Anna’s younger sister and her husband showed up, quickly followed by some of Jacob’s nieces and nephews from his two older brothers, who had both passed on over the years. A couple of the nieces had young children and Anna’s heart twisted at the sight of them. Children shouldn’t have to die just yet, but they were going to at midnight, whether they wanted to or not, whether they and their parents were ready for it or not. She would have begun crying right at that moment, but the doorbell rang again.

“Hi, Mom,” Sylvie said as she wrapped her arms around her mother as soon as she stepped into the house.

“Sylvie, sweetie, how are you?”

Sylvie laughed and pulled away. Her shoulders were shaking from a mixture of laughter and the desire to cry. “Oh, Mom, I’m so happy for Daniel and I wish he had time for a proper marriage. But I miss Blake so much and I almost can’t wait to join him in death. I don’t know how I feel.”

Anna gently placed a hand on her daughter’s arm. “I am the most worried about you, Sylvie. You were always so sensitive. I’ve been wondering how you’ve been coping today.”

Sylvie took a deep breath.  “I’m okay, Mom. I guess I’m just glad there’s no tomorrow to contend with.”

Anna gave her daughter a sad smile, but sensed Sylvie wanted to move on to another topic. So she did.

“Where are the kids?”

“Daniel and Alex got a little hung up at the hotel, but they’ll be along shortly. Stacie’s with them. The guys had some wine and champagne at their reception, so she told them in no uncertain terms that she was driving them.”

“Good for her. And how is she doing? I was so sorry to hear about her break up.”

“She’s doing okay. I think. She doesn’t talk about it much.”

Anna smiled. “Well, I’ll find out in a little bit. Grandmas are always allowed a little more information than moms, I think.”

Sylvie nodded and her mother gently pushed her to join the family out in the backyard. Anna herself followed a moment later, carrying a bowl of fruit salad out. She placed the large crystal bowl on ice and then went back inside after blowing her husband a kiss. She was just reaching for the dish of rolls when the doorbell rang again, this time by the rest of her grandchildren, and the last of her family to arrive.

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