I couldn't decide if I should tell him even though it was possible this might be my last chance. I remained silent for the moment, methodically chewing each fruit snack I chose from the small pouch I shared with my sister. Ever since I found out I was pregnant, I was having the weirdest cravings. This one, no doubt, was inspired by my 18-month old's snack shelf.
If this were his first great-grandchild I would definitely tell him. I would want him to know that his legacy would live on beyond the three women currently in his hospital room. My sister and I watched our mother fumble to find an outlet in which to plug her father's electric razor.
I watched my grandfather slowly run it over his face. I didn't want to upset him by telling him. Of course, the pregnancy was happy news, but I was worried it would only make him sad. He would have to know he would never meet the baby growing inside of me.
He soon grew tired of holding up his arm to shave. As my mom took over my cell phone rang. More worried about breaking hospital policy than receiving the call, I dove into my bag for the device. As I silenced it, I noticed it was my mother-in-law's number. These days we talk regularly on the phone, but that day I knew it was important that I answer.
"Hello?" I whispered as I headed for the hallway.
"Kristin, it's Bette Rae. I can't get a hold of Zach so I called you."
"Yeah, he left his phone charger in..."
"Kristin. Liz died this morning in a car accident. Bill and I are on our way to Kentucky right now."
I literally slid my back against the wall and sat down hard on the linoleum. After a brief back and forth with Bette Rae, the tears came quickly. I clutched the cell in my right hand and my bag against my chest with my left right there on the hospital floor. I glanced down to the nurses station fully aware that my silent sobs would draw attention if someone saw. No one was there.
I twisted my posture to peer back into Papa's room. I wouldn't tell him about this either. I made eye contact with my sister and she was quickly by my side.
Two days later, Zach flew alone to Kentucky to sit with family and say goodbye to our 19 year-old niece. He said he felt a peace.
Two days after that, I drove alone to the hospice to sit with family and watch for death to call our 83 year-old grandfather. He was finally at peace.
We did not name our new daughter after either Papa or Liz. That is a burden too great for a baby. She is a blessing just as she is. Though neither Papa nor Liz knew she was to come those who mourned them did. Of course, she is not a remedy or a replacement, but I have to think sharing the news of her brought some peace.