“Your mother is apparently suffering from anterograde amnesia affecting time immediately following trauma in this case, the passing away of her spouse,” the psychologist informed the couple.
“Okay and what are the chances that her memories would come back to normal?” Lisa asked.
“Well, considering her age, it’s possible it could get worse before it gets better. We’ll conduct more tests to be more certain about the situation.”
“All right, thanks doctor.”
“You are welcome, Mrs. Richards.” Ethan shook hands with the psychologist.
They left the office and drove home.
“I can’t believe this, you know? When I thought she was actually getting better, recovering from her grief, she just had to lose it all, huh?” Lisa said as they climbed the stairs. Ethan was silent.
“Well, we have to re-adjust when she gets back…”
“I don’t think she should come back,” Ethan spoke suddenly. Lisa stopped, and looked at him.
“She has amnesia, Lisa! She doesn’t remember that you’re married and that you have a son! Who knows what she’d do when she sees Jer next time- she might mistake him for something else and throw him out!”
“Oh come on Ethan; don’t blow this out of proportion. The fact that she may not recognize Jer as her grandson doesn’t mean she wouldn’t know it’s a baby and not a doll! You are a doctor, Ethan not some dummy. You know very well it won’t get that far.”
“Well, I’m not going to wait for that to happen.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying it’s better for her to stay at the hospital…”
“Or better yet, a home till she gets better.”
“Ethan! You want me to dump her at those depressing homes so she could get worse?”
“She can’t stay here, Lisa. Jer’s not safe with her anymore.”
“But her one month stay here isn’t up yet!”
“Yeah but our agreement didn’t include her having amnesia, Lisa. You may think I’m being insensitive right now but I’m only looking out for the safety of our child.”
“And so am I.”
“Oh no, you are not; you’re not reasoning as Jer’s mother but as Annie’s daughter and I understand but I’m reasoning as Jer’s father and his safety is my priority right now,” Ethan said with an intense look into Lisa’s eyes and then entered the bedroom. Lisa blinked and bit her lower lip. She ran her fingers through her hair in despair.
Lisa wheeled her mother out of the hospital’s premises. Annie Cooper stood up from the wheelchair and they sat in her car.
“Thank you for coming for me, dear. I know your law school is taking all your time so I really appreciate it,” she said.
“You’re welcome, mum,” Lisa said with a tight smile.
She pulled over in front of her mum’s home and they entered. She got her settled in the sofa and gave her a soft kiss on the cheek.
“I’ve food in the refrigerator and I’ve stocked the kitchen with the stuff I know you like. I wish you could come live with me but Ethan is a bit skeptical about that. So I’ll come and check up on you from time to time, okay?” Lisa said. Annie was confused.
“Who’s Ethan? Your professor? I thought his name was…”
“No, he’s not my professor, mum. He’s my husband.” Annie gasped.
“You’re married? And you didn’t inform your father and I about that?” Lisa sighed.
“Mum, you do know Ethan and my father is dead. You’re suffering from amnesia, mum so some of your memories have disappeared but they will come back with time.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I’m just saying that, I have to go but I’ll be back to check up on you, okay?”
“Sure. You take care on the road, okay?”
“Yes mum.” She pecked her mum and then left. She broke into tears when she sat in her car and closed the door. Her eyes met her mother’s when she lifted her head from the steering wheel. She forced a smile as she wiped away the tears. Her mother waved and she waved back. She drove away from the compound. She drove back to work.
Ethan arrived home to find the house empty. He opened the fridge but couldn’t find any food. He called Lisa. Lisa was driving when her phone rang. She looked at the caller ID and ignored it. Ethan went back to the kitchen and found an almost empty pack of cereal in one of the cabinets. He poured himself some milk and then emptied the cereal box into his bowl. He took in a spoonful and walked into the living room. Lisa entered the house.
“Hey…I was calling you but…”
“I know…. I was driving,” Lisa said, cutting him off.
“So…you couldn’t pick it up?” Lisa looked at him.
“Do you know how it feels to have an irritated baby in the back seat on the highway? And you want me to couple that distraction with a phone call?”
“Okay…I’m sorry.” Lisa headed towards the staircase.
“I called up a babysitting service today. They will send someone over tomorrow for an interview.”
“Don’t bother; I already got one.”
“What? When? How come you never told me?”
“I just got her today. She’ll look after Jer at the chambers so I can still keep an eye on him. Do you have a problem with that?” When Ethan didn’t respond, she said, “I thought so,” and started up the stairs. She came back down after a few moments from Jer’s room.
“There’s nothing in the fridge, Liz,” he said as he finished what was left in the cereal bowl.
“I know; that’s why I bought Chinese take-out on my way home. It’s in the car.”
“You bought take-out?”
“You prefer pizza?”
“Why would you buy when…?”
“When what? When I can cook? I’m juggling between being a weaning mother and a lawyer, Ethan. Am I the only one who feels the heat of this new arrangement?” Lisa asked, raising her voice.
“What’s with the attitude, Liz?”
“Oh don’t get me started, Ethan,” she said as she stepped out. She came back in with the take-out and headed towards the kitchen. Ethan followed her.
“What is really going on here, Liz? Is it because I didn’t allow your mum back into the house?”
“This isn’t about my mum, Ethan.”
“So what is it? Tell me and let’s see how I can help.”
“You can’t, Ethan and that’s the problem! I’ve lots to do and it’s stripping me of every reserve of energy I have. I’m a fatigued mother, a stressed-out lawyer and an overwhelmed daughter who has to take on new responsibilities. You have no idea what I’m going through right now and you just asked me why I bought Chinese take-out?”
“Well, that isn’t going to help in any way.” She took out plates and emptied the food onto them. She handed him one and took a bottle of water from the fridge. She walked to the dining table and sat down. Ethan joined her.
“I’m sorry Liz, really. I’ve been so caught up in my work that I haven’t considered how you’ve been faring these days. I’m really sorry.” Lisa ate quietly. Ethan held her hand. She withdrew her hand. There were tears in her eyes.
“Ethan please…I don’t have the strength to talk….just leave me be.”
She finished her meal and walked to the kitchen. She washed the crockery and went upstairs. When Ethan entered the bedroom, Lisa was in the bathroom. When she came out, she went straight to bed. Ethan was about to enter the bathroom when his phone rang. He answered it.
“Doctor Richards.” He listened for some time.
“How bad is it?”
“Okay; I’ll be there in 45 minutes.” Lisa glanced at him when he said that. He ended the call and dropped the phone on the bed. He entered the bathroom.
He dressed up in silence.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said and kissed her cheek. He left. Lisa picked her phone and called her mother.
“Hi mum…in bed already?”
“Yes dear; I feel pretty tired. Still studying?”
“No mum; I’m tired too so I’m getting ready for bed. Did you eat?”
“Yes I did; the sauce was marvelous, dear. Thanks a lot.”
“Don’t mention it, mum. I’ll leave you to rest then. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight, honey.” The line went dead. Lisa sighed and lay in bed.
She sighed. When will it ever end? She asked herself.
Lisa entered her office with an agitated Jeremy crying.
“Liz! We should have been in the courtroom by now!” Sue said anxiously.
“I know; I got caught in the morning rush. Have you packed up everything?”
“I… I think so.”
“Has the babysitter reported?”
“Yeah, she went to get some coffee.”
“Okay; hold Jeremy for me, please.” Jeremy shrieked when he left the comforting but fatigued arms of his mother. Lisa opened a drawer and began sifting through some papers.
“Oh gosh; if I had forgotten this sheet, I’d definitely become toast in the courtroom today.” She gave it to Sue and continued to look through.
“Okay; I think we’re good.” The door opened.
“Good; you’re here. We have to rush to the court immediately. You know what to do; call me when you have to; please for emergency only. I can’t afford to be distracted at court today.”
“Yes ma’am.” She took Jeremy from Sue and he cried some more. Lisa’s phone rang.
“Lisa, your phone’s ringing,” Sue said.
“Answer it,” Lisa said, still going through some papers in a file complied by Sue. Sue took the phone from Lisa’s bag and saw that it was Ethan calling.
“It’s your husband.”
“Tell him I’m busy.”
Lisa looked at her. “I said, tell him I’m busy. How come your little ears couldn’t pick that up?”
Sue swallowed as she answered the call. The young babysitter was trying in vain to calm Jeremy down.
“Hello, Dr. Richards.”
“It’s Sue, sir. Lisa’s a bit occupied right now.”
“Could you please tell her I need to talk to her?”
“I’m sorry but she’s busy.”
“Did she tell you to tell me that or you’re scared to hand her the phone?”
Sue swallowed again as she glanced at Lisa who was still caught up in whatever she was doing.
“She told me.”
“Fine; thank you.” The line cut. Sue put the phone back in the bag.
“Good; let’s go,” Lisa said.
“Ma’am, Jeremy feels a bit warm.”
“Yeah, he’s been crying for quite some time. Please do well to calm him down. I don’t think we’ll keep long in court today so if he’s still warm by then, I’ll take him to the hospital,” Lisa said and planted a kiss on Jeremy’s head. Sue packed up everything and they exited the office.
“Shush…mum will be right back, dear,” the babysitter said reassuringly.
Lisa and Sue arrived at the courthouse about five minutes late. They rushed inside.
As Lisa was interrogating the defendant on the stand, her phone beeped. Sue took it out of her bag and saw a message alert from the babysitter. She opened the message.
She looked up and her eyes met Lisa’s. Lisa looked away and continued with her interrogation.
If it looks that serious, take him to Peace General Hospital and ask for Dr. Ethan Richards, Jer’s father. He’ll take it from there, she typed. She pressed send. She sighed as she put the phone back inside the bag.
“Ethan?” Mike called as he opened the door to his office. Ethan raised his head.
“Someone’s looking for you.”
“Who?” He opened the door and a young lady carrying Jeremy entered. Ethan stood.
His eyes widened with alarm.
“Hello, Dr. Richards. I’m Sandy; Jeremy’s babysitter…” Ethan took Jeremy from her.
“He’s so warm! Where’s Lisa?”
“She had to rush to court today. Jeremy has been edgy all day and when his temperature continued to rise, I texted her and she asked me to bring him here…to you.” Ethan kissed the baby.
“Thanks. I’ll take him to the pediatrician immediately. Please make yourself comfortable,” Ethan said.
“Thanks,” Sandy said and sat. Ethan left the office.
Lisa and Sue came out of the courtroom.
“It doesn’t look so good, does it?” Sue asked Lisa.
“Not really; I just need a well-rested mind and body to conquer this and I’m not getting it because of Jer. It’s becoming too much for me.”
“Yeah, talking of Jeremy, Sandy texted me when we were in there and said Jer’s body temperature was escalating so I texted her back, telling her to take her to Richard’s hospital.”
“Wow…okay, thanks. Ethan will have my head today. I’ll drop you at the chambers and then rush over there.”
“That’s not necessary, Lisa. I can take a cab. You go take care of Jer.”
“Thanks, Sue.” She gave her the file she was holding. Lisa got into her car. Sue waved at her and she drove off.
“Where the hell is she?” Ethan asked, frustrated when Lisa didn’t pick up his call for the sixth time. The door opened. Lisa entered.
“How’s Jeremy?” Lisa asked, almost panting. Ethan looked at her.
“May I know where you’ve been all this while? I’ve been calling your line for…”
“I know; I’m sorry; I was on my way here. Where’s he?”
“He’s at the pediatrician right now.”
“I asked her to go home. How could you leave a sick baby with her?”
“It wasn’t that bad when I left him with Sandy. I had to be in court today.”
“Yeah right,” Ethan muttered as he sat down.
“What’s that supposed to mean? You know what; I’m not even going to start an argument right now. I’m going to find my baby,” she said and left the office.
When Ethan entered the room, Jeremy was sleeping. Lisa looked at him and then back at the baby.
“He looks calmer now,” he remarked.
“Yeah, I just breastfed him. I’ve to go.”
“Right now? Why don’t you wait a while? My shift ends early today. We can go home together then,” Ethan said.
“Well, I’ve to go and see my mum so I’ll see you later.”
“What? You’re taking sick Jer to your mother’s?”
“Jer’s not sick, Ethan and what’s wrong with visiting my mum?”
“Nothing…I just thought you were stressed out enough.”
“I am….welcome to my world.” She picked up the baby. Ethan kissed the baby on the head.
“Bye,” she said and walked out of the office. Ethan looked at her leave and pocketed his hands.
The bright car lights went out as he shut the engine down. He took the bouquet of flowers on the seat next to his and got out. The usual sound echoed as the car doors locked. When he entered the house, he was greeted with the cheerful giggles of Jeremy as he played in his stroller. He smiled with relief to find him at home. He dropped his bag on the couch and kissed his son. Jer gave him a toothless grin in appreciation. He walked into the kitchen.
Lisa was humming to a song whiles chopping some vegetables. He held her gently from behind and whispered a soft ‘hey’ in her ear.
“Hey…you are in earlier than usual,” she said.
“Yeah, I wanted to spend time with you tonight.” She looked at him.
“I hope you don’t mean what I believe you are thinking because you’ll be disappointed,” she said as she resumed her cooking. He turned her around to face him and showed her the flowers. She put the knife down and took the bouquet.
“Wow….that has been a while,” she said as she smelled them.
“I know, I’m sorry.”
“Thank you. Now I’m sure you’re the same guy I got married to.” He chuckled and held her face. “You look tired.”
“I’m more tired than I look Ethan, I can assure you of that.”
“I’ll get a special bath prepared for you; you need it.”
“Thanks.” He kissed her in response. “I’ll go and change.”
“Okay; and thanks for the flowers again,” she said gratefully.
“My pleasure, sweetie.” He left the kitchen. Lisa took a vase and filled it with water. She placed the flowers in it and smiled as she smelled them again.
“How’s your mum doing?” Ethan asked her as he massaged her calves.
“She’s fine…her memories are still messed up but she’s fine.”
“And how was court today?”
“Didn’t go as expected but I hope to do better next time. I guess I was tired to argue today.”
“It will be fine; the case is yours,” Ethan said reassuringly.
“Thanks, darling. You can stop now; I feel better already.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” She turned around and lay down. She sighed.
“Do you want anything?”
“A glass of water would be nice; thank you.” He got it for her. She drank some and put the glass down. He got into bed; Lisa put her head on his chest. He ran his fingers through her hair.
“I’m now beginning to see your point when you said we should wait a while for a baby,” Ethan remarked. Lisa gave a light chuckle.
“It’s already done, Ethan and although it’s been hard, I can’t say I regret it. Jer is a cute baby and I bless God for that.”
“Sure of course,” he said with a smile as he squeezed her arm affectionately.
Days and months passed and soon it was Jeremy’s first birthday. Ethan’s parents and Lisa’s mother were present as well as Mike, Sue and Sandra. It was a cozy dinner time for all parties present. Lisa sat by her mum who look absent-minded.
“Mum, are you okay?” Annie looked at her daughter. She touched her cheek gently and smiled.
“Look how grown you’ve become, dear. You’ve such a wonderful family now…your father will be proud.”
“Thanks mother; it’s because of how you and daddy raised me up.”
“I’d love to hold my grandson for a while.”
“Sure; he’s with his other grandparents. I’ll go and get him for you.” She got up. A few moments later, she brought the cute little boy to Annie.
“Look at him!” Lisa sat back down beside her mother.
“Do you think I should ask Lisa to bring her mum back here?” Ethan asked Mike.
“Why do you ask?” he asked back as he sipped his wine.
“I don’t know; she’s happy when she’s around.”
“Of course, she’s her mother but I think you’ll be better off with her being at her home. You have a babysitter now, right?”
“So you guys are managing, right?”
“Yeah, you can say that. And Jeremy seems to like her too.”
“So what are you thinking?”
“I’m not sure yet.”
“Be careful, buddy; she’s the only child. She’ll forever have this dependent bond with her mother. Now she’s married; she left her mother to be with you; it’s a leave-to-cleave affair. Make her understand that or else you’ll have her mother as a lifetime rival,” Mike advised. Ethan looked at his best friend and nodded. He sipped his drink.
When the guests began to leave, Lisa walked to her husband.
“Hey…it’s getting a bit late so I want to take my mum home now. I promise not to keep long.” He pulled her aside.
“Why, what’s wrong?” she asked, almost alarmed.
“Nothing; I was just thinking that, maybe…your mum should stay.”
“Well, you know, to help take care of Jer…”
“I’ve Sandra for that now.”
“I know…listen…” he said as he placed his hands on her cheeks, “I see this glow in your eyes when she’s around and I hate to see it disappear.”
“Ethan, you don’t have to do this. She’s doing better at her place now. She’s not acting as weird as she used to.”
“Fine; just a week then.” Lisa sighed. “What do you say?”
Lisa smiled and kissed him. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” Lisa rushed to her mother. Ethan’s eyes met Mike’s. He nodded.
Ethan settled in bed and yawned. Lisa entered the room and closed the door.
“I must be honest, I was just about to reconsider letting your mum stay over,” Ethan said. Lisa laughed as she hopped onto his laps, grinning.
“Thanks so much, sweetheart,” she said gratefully and kissed him.
“Is all that I get?” Ethan asked. Lisa smiled knowingly and shook her head. She kissed him again. He pulled her to him.