Jack was an easy baby. He rarely ever cried, and when he did it was usually because he was over-tired and cranky. His favourite pastime seemed to be quietly staring up at his parents with those big blue eyes of his, cracking smiles and breaking into an occasional fit of giggles.
He was a bubbly kid, always full of energy and always ready to join his dad out on their backyard rink. More often than not Alicia had to bargain with him to get him off the rink and back inside in time for dinner. He could get a little moody about it but thankfully never for too long.
Jack used to cheer and clap loudly whenever Bob was on television. He tried to watch every game and Alicia was usually very generous in letting him stay up past his bedtime. As the years went by, he grew quieter, watching his dad’s games with an intense, focused air about him and an ever-present frown, like he was always deep in thought.
It was the same expression he wore when he himself played, and at times Alicia was taken aback by how much it made him look like an adult despite his youth.
Then Jack went away to play in the major leagues, and Alicia was forced to realize that her relationship with her son had been long distance for a while already.
A part of her would always blame herself, would always think she should have seen it coming. She remembered that day with unsettling clarity and it was a memory she would carry to her grave. She remembered feeling crushed, like the worst failure, but most of all so, so frightened.
All of a sudden the future seemed bleak, and Jack’s expression mirrored that. She was grateful for the coaching job, if only because it gave Jack a reason to smile, even though it was taut and stiff around the edges.
She saw him off to Samwell hoping it wasn’t a mistake, that sending him far from home wouldn’t end in disaster again. But Jack was older then, older than his years. He still played like he had something to prove, but he knew his limits. He had spent the past two years learning himself all over again; Alicia hoped it would be enough.
It wasn’t until his last two years at Samwell that Jack truly grew into himself. He had a great team, who in turn taught him how to be a great teammate. Her baby was smiling again, and Alicia was thrilled.
And yet, half a year into his rookie season in the NHL, she finally saw a look she had for so long hoped to see on her son’s face. One she had almost given up on, thinking half-smiles and contentment could be enough. It was a sweet blond boy with a golden heart who proved her wrong, and for that she would be eternally grateful because she finally got to see Jack happy.