“It’s going to be okay, (Y/N),” Spencer said reassuringly into my ear. I was physically trembling with fear after having just delivered our second baby girl. She’d cried, screamed even, but I couldn’t help thinking of Aveline as they took the new baby to get cleaned up and checked out.
“Spencer,” I managed, squeezing his hand tightly.
“I know,” he murmured. “I know, love. It’s going to be okay, I promise.”
“Mrs.Reid?” I looked up at the nurse who was holding a baby girl in her arms.
“She’s all yours,” she said with a smile. “Healthy and happy.”
“She-she’s okay?” I asked softly, reaching out to take the baby with shaking hands. The nurse nodded and smiled as I took my daughter. I bit back a sob as I looked down at her perfect face, with bright, inquisitive eyes.
“Spencer,” I said.
“She’s gorgeous,” he said with a note of wonder in his voice.
“She is,” I agreed. “She’s so big.”
Bigger than Aveline. Those were the words thought but left unspoken.
“I told you it would be okay,” he whispered as I smiled slightly at the baby nestled in my arms.
“Hi, sweetheart,” I said quietly. “Hi. Aren’t you beautiful? Yeah.”
“We should name her,” Spencer said.
“I was thinking maybe Caroline,” I said.
“I like it. Caroline…Elizabeth?” He suggested and I nodded.
“I think it’s perfect,” I said.
“What do you think, Little One?” I asked. “Caroline Elizabeth sound good to you?” I glanced back at Spencer and found him smiling at our new daughter and I knew it was time to start forging new memories.
“Mama, where are we going?” Caroline asked. At almost five, our little girl was strawberry blonde and had Spencer’s hazel eyes. She was smart and kind and funny, and a through-and-through Daddy’s girl. I looked down at her and smiled slightly.
“We’re going to the cemetery,” I said.
“To visit my sister?” She asked.
“Exactly,” Spencer told her. We hadn’t necessarily intended to introduce the whole concept to her this early, but Caroline has always been incredibly smart and persistent in her questions. When we reached the headstone that marked Aveline’s grave, the three of us sat down on the grass. Caroline gently laid the bouquet of pink roses against the headstone and glanced back at Spencer and I. We held hands as we looked at her.
“Caroline, do you understand what happened to Aveline?” Spencer asked softly. Caroline nodded.
“She died,” Caroline replied.
“That’s right. She was born too early and couldn’t stay alive like most babies,” I said. Caroline nodded slowly.
“That’s okay,” she said. “She’s still my big sister. And she’s going to be the new baby’s big sister, too, right?” I smiled at my little girl as Spencer squeezed my hand lightly.
“That’s right,” I said. Caroline turned to face the headstone.
“Even though I never met you,” she began, “you’re still a good sister, Aveline.” I felt tears well up in my eyes and blinked against them. “It’s okay that you’re not here, because I’m going to be a big sister soon, too. But I’ll still be your little sister, okay?” Caroline smiled back at us, and noticed that I was crying.
“Mommy, don’t cry,” she said. “It’s okay. Aveline would not be crying, and I’m not crying. So don’t cry.” I laughed and pulled her close to hug her.
“I love you, Caroline,” I whispered.
“I love you, too, Mommy.”
As we walked away, I reflected on my two daughters and the baby on the way, and the strength and support I get from Spencer, and I realized that I was one of the lucky ones, after all.