Jamie had called Jenny and begged her to watch Brianna while he tried to remedy the situation with Claire. Jenny called him several choice names when she learned the whole story, but readily agreed to helping them out for the night.
Jamie ran around their flat, packing an overnight bag for Brianna and filling a thermal bag with frozen breastmilk so Jenny could feed the baby. Ian had arrived soon after.
“I told ye that Annalise would be trouble. Ye should put an end tae that mess straight away.”
“I ken, Ian. But I’m serious when I say that I havena done anything wi’ her. She’s like a barnacle on my arse, she is.”
“Weel, maybe now that she kens ye have a wife and a bairn, she’ll leave ye be.”
Jamie nodded. But she was the least of his worries just then.
After searching for over an hour, he finally found his wife sitting on a bench overlooking the river. He quietly sat beside her and waited until she talked. He could have said he was sorry. He could have said he had done nothing wrong.
But he’d already done all that.
Finally, after what seemed like an age, Claire spoke.
“I apologize for all that back there. I said more than I meant.”
Jamie reached for her hand and held it, scooting closer to her.
“I ken, mo chridhe . All that shit wi’ Annalise is…”
Claire interrupted. “I know, Jamie. I know you aren’t encouraging her. In fact, Annalise isn’t even the issue, if I really think about it. No matter what I’ve set my mind to, I can't help but feel left behind. You have your life back, while I…,” she sighed heavily and looked down at her hands.
“I ken, Claire. I do.” He slid over to her and put his arm around her shoulder as she cried again.
She told him of battling with the feelings of loss. Not the loss of ‘anyone’, but the loss of her life. The loss of what she had expected. The loss of her college years and, more specifically, her education. In fact, maybe she did grieve the loss of someone. She grieved the loss of herself.
She had always known exactly what she was going to do with her life. All her plans had been waylaid by that one time . She shared her frustrations and her fears. She shared all her regrets.
She also shared her thoughts on what she needed to do to fix things.
Her parents, who had been thoroughly and completely enamored with their new granddaughter, were back in their lives. Claire shared that her mother had mentioned thoughts of moving to Edinburgh to help with the raising of Brianna so that Claire and Jamie could go to uni full time. Henry and Julia had laid out a plan to Claire, but she had resisted accepting it (or discussing it with Jamie) because she wanted to do this on her own, with Jamie.
But she was finding that she couldn’t. She was committed to being a wife and a mother at 19, but she was finding that just wasn’t enough for her. She wanted to be a nurse. She wanted the life of which she had dreamed.
Finally, when she was talked out, Jamie spoke.
“Why didnae ye tell me about yer parents’ offer tae help?”
“We had a plan, you and I. I thought we needed to do this thing on our own. And I felt it was sort of my own personal penance that I needed to pay. I dug my own hole, so to say.”
“Claire, ye are not in this alone. I am here in this wi’ ye. But ye ken, we dinnae have to do this alone. It isn’t a terrible thing to want more in life. It isn’t a terrible thing to need to live out yer dreams. If we accept their offer, ye can go to uni. Is it so awful to want that for yerself?”
Claire shook her head.
“Do ye want to do this? To go to school, wi’ their help?”
Claire looked up at him with an almost defeated look. “I didn’t want to fail in this. I wanted to prove that we could do this.”
Jamie took her hands and shook his head firmly. “ Mo chridhe , we are doing this. We are still Brianna’s parents and are still responsible for her. We are still raising her. But think about it. Jenny and Ian have the help of my parents. Mam watches Jenny’s bairns all the time. And they wouldn’t have it any other way. Not everyone has the opportunity to have their grandparents in their life. Don’t ye think that this would be good for our bairn? To have the memories of her grandparents being close tae her? It isn’t a crime to accept help when it is given with your happiness in mind.”
Claire nodded slowly. “Do you think we should accept?”
“I do. I want ye tae be happy. I want ye to be content wi’ our life together. And if this is what it takes, then I’ll do it and gladly.”
Claire reached out and pulled Jamie to her in a tight hug, as she felt the weight of the world falling away from her shoulders.
“Ye ken, there’s the twa o’ us now. There always has been and there always will be. Now, let’s go home while we have some quiet time for just us. Jenny and Ian are watching the bairn over night. We can get take-away and then maybe ye could show me exactly what ye had in mind tae do in the bedroom tonight.”
Jamie pulled his wife to him and took her home. Then proceeded to show her how much she meant to him.