I nod and somehow mutter, “Thank you.”
When I hear the front door close, I turn back and face the crib. My eyes fill with tears, and not for myself this time. Not for the baby.
I cry for Ryle. Because even though he’s responsible for the situation he’s in, I know how sad he is about it. And when you love someone, seeing them sad also makes you sad.
Neither of us brought up our separation or even a chance at reconciliation. We didn’t even talk about what’s going to happen when this baby is born in ten weeks.
I’m just not ready for that conversation yet and the least he can do for me right now is show me patience.
The patience he still owes me from all the times he had none.
I finish rinsing the paint out of the brushes and then walk back to the nursery to admire the mural. I spent most of yesterday and all of today painting it.
It’s been two weeks since Ryle came over and put the crib together. Now that the mural is finished and I brought in a few plants from the store, I feel like the nursery is finally complete. I look around and feel a little sad that no one is here to admire the room with me. I grab my phone and text Allysa.
Me: Mural is finished! You should come down and look at it.
Allysa: I’m not home. Running errands. I’ll come look at it tomorrow, though.
I frown and decide to text my mother. She has to work tomorrow, but I know she’ll be just as excited to see it as I was to finish it.
Me: Feel like driving into town tonight? The nursery is finally finished.
Mom: Can’t. Recital night at school. I’ll be here late. I can’t wait to see it! I’ll come by tomorrow!
I sit down in the rocking chair and know that I shouldn’t do what I’m about to do, but I do it anyway.
Me: The nursery is finished. Do you want to come look at it?
Every nerve in my body springs to life as soon as I hit Send. I stare at my phone until his reply comes through.
Ryle: Of course. On my way down now.
I immediately stand up and begin making last minute touches. I fluff the pillows on the loveseat and straighten one of the wall hangings. I’m barely to the front door when I hear his knock. I open it and dammit. He’s wearing scrubs.
I step aside as he makes his way in.
“Allysa said you were painting a mural?”
I follow him down the hallway toward the nursery.
“It’s taken two days to finish,” I tell him. “My body feels like I ran a marathon and all I did was walk up and down a step ladder a few times.”
He glances over his shoulder and I can see the concern in his expression. He’s worried that I was here doing it all on my own. He shouldn’t worry. I’ve got this.
When we make it to the nursery, he stops in the doorway. On the opposite wall, I painted a garden. It’s complete with almost every fruit and vegetable I could think of that grows in a garden. I’m not a painter, but it’s amazing what you can do with a projector and transparent paper.
“Wow,” Ryle says.
I grin, because I recognize the surprise in his voice and I know it’s genuine. He walks into the room and looks around, shaking his head the whole time. “Lily. It’s . . . wow.”
If he were Allysa, I’d clap and jump up and down. But he’s Ryle and with the way things have been between us, that would be a little awkward.
He walks over to the window where I set up a swing. He gives it a little push and it begins moving from side to side.
“It also moves front to back,” I tell him. I don’t know if he even knows anything about baby swings, but I was pretty impressed by that feature.
He walks over to the changing table and pulls one of the diapers out of the holder. He unfolds it and holds it up in front of him. “It’s so tiny,” he says. “I don’t remember Rylee being this tiny.”
Hearing him mention Rylee makes me a little sad. We’ve been living apart since the night she was born, so I’ve never been able to see him interact with her.
Ryle folds up the diaper and puts it back in the holder. When he turns to face me, he smiles, lifting his hands to motion around the room. “It’s really great, Lily,” he says. “All of it. You’re really doing . . .” His hands drop to his hips and his smile falters. “You’re doing really well.”
A thickness seems to form in the air around me. It’s suddenly difficult to take in a full breath because for whatever reason, I feel like I need to cry. I just really like this moment and it saddens me that we couldn’t spend the entire pregnancy full of moments like these. It feels good sharing this with him, but I’m also scared I might be giving him false hope.
Now that he’s here and he saw the nursery, I’m not sure what to do next. It’s glaringly obvious that we need to discuss a lot of things, but I have no idea where to start. Or how.
I walk over to the rocking chair and take a seat. “Naked truth?” I say, looking up at him.
He exhales a huge breath and nods, then takes a seat on the sofa. “Please. Lily, please tell me you’re ready to talk about this.”
His reaction eases my nerves a little, knowing he’s ready to discuss everything. I wrap my arms around my stomach and lean forward in the rocking chair. “You go first.”
He clasps his hands together between his knees. He looks at me with so much sincerity, I have to glance away.
“I don’t know what you want from me, Lily. I don’t know what role you want me to have. I’m trying to give you all the space you need, but at the same time I want to help more than you possibly know. I want to be in our baby’s life. I want to be your husband and I want to be good at it. But I have no idea what’s going through your head.”