In a life riddled with painful endings and bright
beginnings too few to count, Catherine sought refuge in
routine and simplicity. Ordinarily she would have dreaded
the choreographed chaos of a graduation ceremony, but this
day she embraced it with a light heart. She should have been
exhausted from long nights spent hunched over textbooks
cramming for finals, but her racing mind made sleep
impossible. This was it. The day she'd worked so hard for
had finally arrived. Today she would graduateâ€”with
honors. Not only had she earned her degree, but more
importantly, she'd earned her son.
She slipped into her soft cotton robe and crossed the
hall. Paint fumes lingered from her lastâ€“minute
application of the fluffy white clouds that drifted across
the slateâ€“blue walls and ceiling. Fâ€“14 Tomcats
streaked around and through the puffs, trailing vapor wakes.
The spotless room with its airplane lamp and new
furniture smell held an air of expectancy. Crossing to the
bookshelf, she knocked over a few stuffed animals. She
tossed a Berenstain Bear book onto the desk and another
across the bed, pulled out the desk chair and, opening the
closet door, tugged the two shirts and a worn jean jacket
askew. The jacket slid from the hanger to the floor and she
left it where it fell. That was better. Now it had a more
comfortable, messy, livedâ€“in look. A littleâ€“boy
A boy could fall in love with this room. Hopefully her
Catherine allowed herself this rare, brief moment to wish
that things were different. If only the past could be erased
and she could look up into the stands and see Thomas by
Drew's side, smiling proudly at her as she received her
diploma. In her fantasy, both Thomas and her son were
joining her in California, as excited as she was about their
But fantasies, by definition, don't deal in reality. Long
ago, Catherine learned to suppress such futile longings.
Circumstances had extinguished many of her dreamsâ€”like
those of a happilyâ€“everâ€“after with her husband
and sonâ€”but some were well within her reach. Soft
light filtered through the blinds as the sun crested the
neighboring houses. Drew was probably in the air right now.
A slow smile spread across her face. After four long
years she would at last be a real mom.