It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.
~Henry David Thoreau
We will start off with a little recap of the recent six months among the Cameron clan. A lot has happened in a relatively short period of time.
Eric and Charlotte Cameron welcomed their son Jamie (James) into the world on a snowy Winter morning, the first snow of the season, though neither of the parents-to-be had an eye for scenery at the time after Charlee had been rudely awoken by having gone in labor.
Never before had Eric been more grateful for his police drive training, which allowed him to confidently and safely rush himself and his wife in labor to the hospital despite the unexpected adverse weather conditions. All the while his heart had been beating up his throat, hoping he wouldn’t lose the race and find himself pulled over alongside the road half-way to the hospital, trying to deliver his own son in the backseat of his car or something ridiculous like that.
As soon as Eric announced their arrival at the hospital reception, they were ushered into into the maternity ward to get ready for the delivery room. It was blatantly clear that Charlee wasn’t going to be one of those women in labor for hours. It was all rush-rush from then on.
She was fully dilated and the baby was practically coming already. The moment they all barely got settled in the delivery room the doctor had to skip over the last few checks because little Mr. Jamie Cameron was done waiting and decided to make his way into this world no later than right about NOW.
The entire birth ended up taking less than an hour from their arrival at the hospital. As smooth as it was – despite being without an epidural for Charlee – being confronted with the birth of his first son without time for filters, helplessly listening to his wife screaming in anguish while watching things happening to her body he could never unsee, tore on Eric’s nerves and stomach.
From the very first time they met their grandson, Eric’s parents were head over heels for him. After Eric’s traumatic accident as a teen boy everything had changed for him and his general outlook on life and love, he quit dating for many years and they weren’t sure they were ever going to have a grandchild at all. Eric was Chase and Shea’s only child, his wife Charlotte also had no siblings.
Finding Charlotte had been Eric’s blessing in disguise, despite their detours, or maybe because of those detours, which taught them for certain that each other was what they both wanted most in life, while granting them the semblence of normality they had craved.
Holding her grandson, Shea felt transported back in time, Jamie favored his father Eric at this age. A bittersweet love at first sight for her, even though she still felt much too young and fit for the title of grandma.
Much to everyone’s surprise, was the child big hit particularly with Eric’s dad Chase, usually the nerdy scientist with his face always buried in studies and equasions and only marginally interested in any children beyond his own son, but somehow that baby was like a magnet for him, maybe because in Chase’s book, Jamie was an extension of his beloved son Eric. The only thing very clear, very quickly was that whenever Chase came visiting, he’d hog little Jamie and all others could enjoy him from a distance. Attempts to argue were futile. Even for the baby’s parents, who took it in stride and with humor.
Ewan and Ava tied the knot, in the coziest and most casual setting imaginable. Not at all what anybody would ever have pictured a wedding of world-renown and wealthy celebrity Ewan to look like, more the exact opposite. Ava hated wasting money and unnecessary pomp, and Ewan loved making his Ava happy, so this is what they came up with.
While Ava made few requests about their big day, one made Ewan uncomfortable, but he obliged as she felt strongly about it: she did not want to see one single member of her family there. Them selling her out to the press left a gaping hole inside her, still festering after many months.
He feared one day she’d regret not having at least her father at her own wedding, but decided against just inviting him and her brothers anyway. It was Ava’s wish and her day to shine. Plus, he wasn’t too keen on repeats of their brutish behavior towards him or around his family.
Nearly daily Ewan discovered new things about Ava, loving each and every new facette of her brilliant personality and fiery temper, but one thing was for certain: she was loyal to the bone and expected no less from anybody in her inner circle. If you abused that trust, you were out for good. An important piece of information for someone in the public eye.
Cheating wasn’t a rare occurrance among Ewan’s peers in the film industry, but he knew were he ever to cross that line, he would loose Ava for good.
He also knew how being cheated on felt, thanks to his ex-fiancé. No way he’d ever do that to Ava. Ewan was still every bit as crazy about her as before, bordering obsession, per Ewan’s father Elias’ opinion.
After the initial surprise when others heard about Ewan and Ava wanting a barn-style wedding had worn off, it became crystal-clear they had chosen well.
The entire family had plenty of room, it was a balmy, if slightly overcast Spring day and everybody enjoyed themselves, as simple as it may have been, it turned out to be a feast to be remembered for a long time.
So much so, in fact, that after a brief discussion with the bridal couple Eric and Charlotte – who both had purposely not gotten married yet to further aggravate her parents about their unmarried daughter living with and giving birth to the illegitimate child of a disfigured small town cop – went to their nearby home, changed and as soon as her parents made it over from Windenburg after Charlee’s last minute invite, got hitched too – with Brylee as their last minute ring bearer-ess! Ewan and Ava weren’t offended, quite the contrary – they LOVED it.
Barely two months after the weddings little Gavin Zane Cameron was born to Ewan and Ava Cameron. Ava’s delivery was a lot more calm than Charlee’s had been, fairly smooth and both parents were beaming. The little boy was absolutely healthy and Ewan’s knees got weak a few times.
She had gone into labor early, almost four weeks before the estimated date and just two days after their return from the Starlight Accolade awards, where Ewan once more won big time.
Ewan’s youngest half-sibling Veronica had big news of her own when her high school sweetheart Caden popped the question just before they were off to college. So some time between now when after they were done with university there would be another wedding. With Vero, there was no telling where this would go.
In the meantime most of the family got adjusted to new schedules, things that were new and others that would never again be the way they once were.
Unfortunately not everyone currently enjoyed their Happily Ever After.
Hannah and Sven weren’t so lucky. While everyone else was adjusting to their new lives as families, Hannah and Sven’s home life was most often out of kilter these days in the beautiful little house up on the hill near the harbor.
The small town scene was misleading, there wasn’t a Mayberry to be had for these two of Brindleton Bay’s residents.
More often than not, nights were now spent yelling and slamming doors from the moment both arrived home after work, sometimes with one – or even both of them – leaving and spending the night elsewhere, only to simmer in their anger all night and all day at work the next day till they would finally make up again. Alas, the peace was short-lived and only ever seemed to last until the very next day.
The reason for the disharmony wasn’t the usual culprits that did most couples in. Not money spent too frivolously. Neither of them foolish or lazy, both worked diligently to warrant a decent living for themselves.
Nor was it lies, untidyness or unsurmountable differences in taste or ideas that continued to do them in, quite the contrary they had always been birds of a feather.
It wasn’t infidelity, neither in body nor in mind. Both had been absolutely faithful to each other since their wedding some years ago now, even though Hannah had used the fact that Sven’s profession as a personal trainer left much to the imagination about potential options as easy ammunition during fights. Deep inside she knew he never touched any of his clients.
No, it was simply the still unfullfilled wish for a child of their own that tattered the once so happy marriage at its seams now.
They had tried conceiving naturally utilizing every method known to mankind.
The amount of love-making these two had absolved numbered in near olympic dimensions by now, so much so that the act itself was no longer the fun activity they used to sneak away for at any possible – and impossible – moment. This was no longer desire, love that had manifested in a more physical form. No, this was just a routine to be done, a chore to be checked off the list to achieve a common goal. A chore that both came to dread.
Between that truth and the fact that despite of all the efforts, each pregnancy test yielded the same negative result, crushing frail hopes and dreams, wearing them down to the nub, until nothing but frustrations and blame was left. Which put a severe strain on a once very harmonious marriage.
They both had been tested, both were considered to be within normal fertility range and everything appeared to work as it should. Why they wouldn’t get pregnant had stunned Hannah’s gynecologist and two specialists by now, but nobody had solid answers.
During one of the disheartening office consultations at the clinic they had discussed alternatives, even though in reality their options were exceedingly sparse, their health insurance refused to cover any of it, since there was no sound medical reason for them not to be able to conceive on their own. Sven and Hannah just did not have the deep pockets it would take to pay out of pocket for in-vitro, especially since there weren’t any guarantees and the procedure was daunting.
This lead to Hannah mostly avoiding her beloved cousins and even her own brother now, unable to bear the joy they had with their little families, while at the same time feeling guilty about not just being able to be happy for Bryan, Eric and Ewan.
Before long, there was not much left of the happy, friendly, upbeat and kind young woman Hannah had once been. Only sadness, bitterness and an insatiatble desire to have the one thing she could not seem to get.
The cresendo came one night, when Hannah confronted Sven at the door, packed duffel bag in hand. Her instant meltdown covered everything, from bitter accusations to heartwrenching sobs.
“Is that it? You don’t love me anymore?” her words resounded with the pain he was feeling.
“Me leaving right now has nothing to do with being in love or not. You’re just angry and miserable all the time, Hannah, usually at me, undeserved. I reached my breaking point. I cannot do this any longer.” his words bore no sign of accusations, just a tired resignation, not once did he lift his voice.
“I am angry?! That’s rich! Look at yourself! I am not the one walking out on you, leaving you, when you need me the most. I need you, more than ever, right now, and you just leave!” Hannah’s pain rung in her words.
“Wrong, Hannah. I do need you, but I am not even getting a tiny piece of you. All that is left of the woman I love is an empty shell. You shut me out completely, hating me for something I am not even guilty of.”
“I am not hating you, I am hating that we are just treading water. How can it be so hard? Babies just fell into the laps of everyone, they didn’t even really want any. Except us. And you are not helping! Every time my fertility alarm goes off, you practically roll you eyes and make it seem like you have to drag yourself to have sex with your wife. What man does that? I thought all guys love nookie. Who cares why we do it?!” Hannah’s panicked voice nearly tipped over.
“No, Hannah, that’s where you got it all wrong. It USED to be fun. Gawd, we had so much fun. Now it’s not. I cannot believe that I would ever admit this, but I hate sex right now. If faced with the choice to never have sex in my life or all this, I wouldn’t even have to think. It would be a hearty ‘no thanks’. I’d go live in some monastery before going on with this nonsense!” Sven’s calmness began to change to frustration.
“Wow. Nice. So, it’s all because of me, huh? Well, if you were a little more focused, maybe I would be pregnant already and all would be back to normal by now. Maybe we should get your male situation tested again. Something may not be working right.” Hannah hissed angrily.
“Oh really? A low-blow while I am trying to calmly explain how close to the abyss our marriage currently is? Fine, then we’ll fight if that makes the decision easier for you. So now you think I am shooting blanks all of a sudden even though I have a piece of paper saying I tested absolutely fertile? And as far as I remember, I already proved that I am virile. How about you, Hannah!? I don’t remember ever hearing of a pregnancy scare from you, before or during our relationship and I know we had a lot of opportunity even before the baby-mania, so I will assume you were like that with previous relationships. Hurts being accused like this, doesn’t it? Well, I’d love to stay and fight some more, but I need to figure out where I will go. You have fun doing this – but without me.” with that he turned and left the house, quietly.
His words and tone had taken the wind out of Hannah’s sails, a fact Sven took advantage of to rush out and drive into the night.
Once she calmed down a little, Hannah felt reflective at the realization that not only was the ball in her court, but her next move had to be soon and well thought through.
A sudden clarity came to her, something her mother had said to her during one of the last times she had run home to her parents to cry her desperate heart out. Something about sitting back and evaluting what’s most important in life, then learning to accept not everything can always work out the way we want.
Hannah realized if they didn’t pull the emergency brake soon, her marriage would derail fast – and for good. For what? Something she thought she wanted, while risking something she KNEW she did?! She hoped it wasn’t too late already. After tonight, she really wasn’t so certain anymore.
She pulled out her cell phone and dialed, this may well be the most important phone call of her entire life, while she was praying it was not too late …
Less than an hour later, Sven was back, visibly apprehensive but at least he had returned.
Hunched over next to Hanna on their couch, he finally spoke, his tone not soft and understanding anymore, still sad but also hurt.
“What’s this now? You called me back here, said it was very urgent that we speak, yet we have been sitting here for several minutes and not a peep out of you. Right now I feel like I am getting served with divorce papers, while bracing for the next round of the verbal UFC match to be send to bed without dessert, all at once.”
“Sorry, no nothing like that. I just do not know how to find the right words, but here goes. I have been thinking, Sven, and came to the sobering conclusion that if we do not do something soon, all this that is us, will end. All of it will crumble. Here is my peace offering, my solution: I want us to stop trying. We need a break. Maybe we can swing a vacation, just a week, mom and dad can look in on the restaurant. And when we come back, maybe we look into fostering. Or adopting even – eventually.”
“Just so we are on the same page here, are we talking kids or pets?”
“A child, Sven. If we cannot have our own, let’s give some poor soul hope. Maybe that is our calling, maybe this is how we will find happiness again and by the same token can give it. Even if it may never experience the wonder of birth first hand, I can live with that. I want us, Sven, first and foremost. With child or without, but always us, and I am afraid we were very close to losing that. Again. I just couldn’t bear it. It’s all so clear now.”
Hannah was fighting with her emotions, it looked like a losing battle. Normally Sven would have comforted her, instead he remained guarded, his face still hard, but softening as the weight of Hannah’s words sunk in and what that decision must have cost her.
“I agree. You would not believe how happy this makes me. And I would like to sincerely apologize for what I said to you. That was uncalled for, wrong and just a duck move.”
“A duck move?” Hannah couldn’t help but giggle a little, and a small smile now turned the corners of Sven’s lips slightly upwards.
“Hey, if we go the fostering route, whatever kid we and up with may already understand words. Better start right away. No more dicks, just ducks.”
“Good point. Duck moves it shall be from now on.”
“Hannah, I love you.”
This was the drop that overflowed the bucket and Hannah fell apart. This time Sven comforted her, pulling her into a gentle, but definite embrace, kissing her cheek briefly before leaning his head against hers. A gentle gesture, one that said more than any words could.
Hannah willingly snuggled against Sven, relieved.
“Are we … okay then?”
“Better than okay. I am very glad you had the epiphany and called me.”
“And I am glad you came back.”
“All right, so … let’s get to planning our next move, shall we?”
“Planning? I don’t think fostering agencies are even open now …”
“The vacation, Hannah. I love that suggestion. I am still jealous of those beach pictures that arrogant baffoon cousin of yours held under our noses, when we didn’t even have money for a honeymoon after buying this house. So, that’s got my vote. Somewhere warm, sunny and lazy, where we will still wonder days after we’re back home about sand in crevices we didn’t know we had. And not a single word about babies, fostering, adopting, fertility, none of that. Deal?”
“Deal. We really don’t have that kind money right now though ….”
“We do what most regular mortals do and take out a loan. Don’t you dare even think about mentioning any of this to Ewan or you can go with him. We need this, Hannah and we need this now, I don’t care if I need a second job to pay it all off. Just you and I, we need to do this together on our own – every little bit of it ourselves, if we want to make it.”
“You’re right. I am so glad you are back, Sven.”
“I never really left. But I am glad you are back, too, baby.”
Laying in bed that night until the early hours of dawn, Hannah fast asleep beside him, Sven carefully pulled his arm out from underneath her, then snuck out of the bedroom. The wheels in his head were turning too loudly to let him find sleep and he didn’t want to wake up Hannah. Both of them were sleep deprived and she looked so peaceful.
Standing by a window looking out in the peaceful, quiet first light of the new day over the harbor, Sven knew this wasn’t them riding off into the sunset, not yet. This may be a chance, a little piece of hope, very fragile, which was more than they had before but there was no mistake to be made about it: they were far from out of the woods yet.
Whether or not what was left of what they once had was strong enough to survive, remained to be seen. If he was honest, Sven wasn’t so sure. All he could say for certain was he was going to throw everything and the kitchen sink at breaking Hannah out of the vicious cycle she had succumbed to and making a solid effort to save their marriage and love for each other, but he knew if things went back the way they had been once they’d return from their impromtu trip, he’d not hesitate to walk away from it. He could – and would – not do this all over again.