All I have to do is Dream



 

James loved the way Gloria looked when full with child—the sway of her hips as she scuttled around carrying the extra burden, the way her face and breasts filled out just a little extra, and her hair became thick and wavy. He never grew tired of it, just as he never grew tired of spoiling her and their four precious little girls. She had wanted to stop at Constance, but he had convinced her to try one final time for a son. He knew she craved a little boy every bit as much as he did, and besides, pregnancy suited her well.

When he returned home from work that evening and wrapped her in his arms, she saddled him with a kiss so ferocious, so needy, that he doubted they’d even stop at five. One day they’d have a whole brood of children running circles around the both of them—too in love with each other and with their family to have the heart to stop.

“Daddy! Daddy!” Beverly cried, racing into his arms and peppering his cheeks with kisses.

“Daddy!” Victoria said, tugging at the hem of his coat. “Look what I made in school.” She held up a colorful finger painting for his appraisal.

“Da-da!” Even Constance, who was just learning to speak, seemed pleased by his arrival.

“There’s mi hijo,” his mother-in-law called from the couch where she sat with her swollen ankles propped up. “Abuelo and I have a special surprise for you after supper.”

“What is it? What is it?” His little girls chanted, jumping up and down with excitement.

“Let’s have supper first. Your mama has worked so hard to prepare it, after all. Then.” Her eyes twinkled with mischief. “Then we will have your surprise.”

The girls raced through dinner. Even James found himself shoveling in each spoonful much faster than usual. 

“Can we have our surprise now please, Abuelita?” his eldest, Victoria, asked.

“Yes, come outside and see!” 

James helped his ailing mother-in-law to her feet and held onto her arm as they followed the girls into the front yard. Even before he saw it, he heard the girls’ exclamations of joy rise up into the air like bright bunches of balloons.

“Wow!”

“Is that for us?”

“It’s the biggest bus I’ve seen in my whole life!”

Sure enough, a giant gleaming camper stood proudly by the curb. His father-in-law stood before it jangling the keys in his direction. “Your last chance to make a special memory before the new baby comes,” he explained. “Go, make it a good one.”

He winked and tossed the keys toward James, who caught them with ease.

“It’s too much, Mama!” Gloria argued, but James could tell from the look on her face that she was quite pleased by the gesture.

“Hush now,” her mother chided. “Go, enjoy yourselves. Just the six of you. Soon you will be seven, and the girls need this time besides. Your papa and brothers will take care of everything while you’re away. When you come home, the nursery will have a fresh coat of paint and the house too.”

Her father nodded. “Go. Take the weekend. We will be all right on our own for a few days.”

* * *

Gloria cuddled with her daughters on the blanket they’d spread out in the grass, while James worked on getting a fire started.

“I’m hungry, Mama,” Jacqueline said.

The baby kicked at the sound of its sister’s voice, and Gloria smiled to herself. Even though this was supposed to be their last big hurrah before the baby joined them, she was still very much a part of this time as well. Gloria thought of the baby as a she, because, well, she and James had a track record and all.

“We’ll eat soon. First Daddy has to get the fire going, then we’ll roast hotdogs and marshmallows and corn. Doesn’t that sound yummy?”

The baby kicked again, harder than before. “Hush, little one. You’ll get some too.” She giggled and tried to relax, despite the growing pain in her abdomen. Her daughters ran through the campgrounds and in and out of the RV, playing tag and getting out their pent up energy from the long drive.

The girls screeched with delight. Normally, the sound of their fun would bring a smile to her face, but this time it shot straight through her brain causing a wicked headache. Then came a hard bump, knocking the wind right out of her. She looked to reprimand the daughter who had obviously run straight into her during play, but the three bigger girls were tearing through the camper, and Constance sat nearby playing with her favorite stuffed bear.

Kick.

The baby. Oh no, she…

Twist.

But Gloria wasn’t due for another three weeks, and she always carried to term—a few days past it actually.

Sploosh.

Her water broke, leaving her with no other possibility. But they were at least an hour and a half from the nearest hospital, from Mama and home. And James…

A searing pain ripped through Gloria, and she cried out from both the pain and shock of it all.

Her daughters came bounding out of the trailer.

“Mama…?” She could hear tears in Jacqueline’s voice as the little girl—the one who had always been the most nurturing of the bunch—pressed the back of her hand to her mother’s forehead to check for fever.

“Mama, what’s wrong?”

“The… baby…” Gloria huffed, having a hard time getting the words out. 

That was when her hero arrived. 

The moment James saw her, he dropped the bundle of sticks he’d been carrying to feed the fire and ran to her side.

“Girls,” he said calmly. “Go inside. Victoria, get some water. Jacqueline, bring out the sleeping bags and towels. Beverly, mind Constance. The new baby has decided we shouldn’t have all this fun without including him.”

Gloria stopped worrying then and put all her trust in James and in God. Neither would let her or this baby down. She was sure of it.

* * *

“Victoria, can I trust you with a very big favor?” James asked when the girls returned with the supplies as requested. “I need you to help your sisters have their dinner and then put them to bed. Can you do that for me, sweetie?”

“Yes, Daddy.” Her eyes darted toward her mother and a frown crept across her small face. “Is—is Mama going to be okay?”

He laughed to help put her and the others at ease. “Of course, of course. The baby is on the way. I’ll come in and wake you up once he’s here, okay?”

“Okay.” Her mind seemingly put at ease, Victoria skipped away, ushering each of her younger sisters into the van.

He poured some water into a cup for Gloria, then, when he was sure his daughters were out of earshot, asked, “Is everything okay, mi corazon? Should we move inside?”

She squeezed his hand and attempted to smile. “No, no, I want to be here under the stars. It’s a nice change from all those times at home staring up at the ceiling.”

“Should we drive back to town? I can—?”

She placed a hand on his arm as if to stop him from fussing. “I don’t think we’ll have enough time. This baby is not quite as patient as the rest.”

“Patience is overrated.” He settled down with her and began to massage her calves between the contractions. If he kept talking, perhaps she’d be distracted from the pain. He had nothing else to give her as an analgesic, so his words would have to be enough.

“I had to wait years—years—to meet you. The hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Maybe this baby feels the same. Nine months is too long to wait when it comes to meeting the most wonderful woman in the whole entire world.” 

He hadn’t meant to get so sentimental on her, but as he watched her push through the pain of labor to bring them this beautiful gift of another perfect child, he just couldn’t help it. As much as he was continually overwhelmed by his love for her, James felt his affection surge to even higher levels.

“You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” he said with tears in his eyes as he held tightly to his wife’s hand. “Everything they put me through in that camp, all of it, was worth it, because it led me to you.”

“James, stop.” She attempted to let go of his hand. 

He’d gotten too corny for her, but he wanted to make sure she knew. “I mean it, I love you so—”

“No, James. Stop. I love you too, but I need you to get ready. The baby’s coming right now,” she huffed. “We need to… focus… on… Aaaah!”

And their fifth child came screaming into the world, bright red, full of spirit, and…

“It’s a boy,” he whispered. Then louder, “Gloria, it’s a boy! Meet our son!” James cut the cord, then placed the baby on his mother’s chest and covered them both with a blanket to protect them from the chilly night air.

“I’ll be right back. I have to go tell the girls! Oh, they’ll be so happy, Gloria. I’m so happy!” He kissed her forehead, then the baby’s, leaving mother and son alone briefly so he could go get the rest of the family to share in this moment.

* * *

Gloria couldn’t believe it. The baby was here, and a boy. Ever since she’d lost her brother, she’d known she wanted a son to raise in his honor. She also wanted James to have a boy of his own so he could experience all those important father-son bonding moments she knew he craved. Yes, he loved his girls with his entire heart, but a boy was special in a different way. And now they had one to call their own.

“Jacob Ricardo Morgan, that’s what we’ll call you,” she told the baby, pressing him to her bosom. “Named after two great men. You’ve got a lot to live up to, little one, but don’t worry, Mama will be there to support you every step of the way.”

The baby latched on just as her other children emerged from the camper and tore over to where she and the baby lay nuzzled together.

“Oh, wow! We have a brother!” they exclaimed.

“Mama, can I sing the baby a song?” Jacqueline asked, pressing her face close to Gloria’s.

“I think he’d like that,” she answered, smiling up at her girls.

“I want to sing too,” Beverly cried.

“We should all sing. After all, he’s all of our brother.”

James laughed and mussed up Victoria’s hair. “That’s a good point, Vicky, and what should we sing to him?”

She thought for a few moments, then her eyes lit up and she spoke so fast he could hardly understand her. “Since we’re camping, I think we should sing Kumbaya. I think the baby will like it. It’s kind of like a lullaby. Right, Daddy?”

“Oh, yes, yes!” Beverly shouted, joining in Victoria’s excitement.

But Jacqueline pouted, “I don’t know that song…”

“Come here,” Gloria said reaching out her free arm. “It’s an easy song to learn. We’ll all teach you.”

The girls cuddled with their mother as James finally brought the fire to life. The sound of their voices mixing together as the heat crackled before them was the most beautiful thing James had heard in his entire life. 

“James, come hold your son,” Gloria urged once they had all sung a few rounds and the baby had finished his first meal outside the womb. And when she placed the tiny bundle—the smallest yet of all his children—in James’s arm, he knew he was a goner.

The baby stretched his arms forward and accidentally scratched himself near the eye.  

“Hey, hey, buddy. Careful,” he warned. “You’ll need those eyes. There’s so much beauty in this world, so much you still need to see.”

He wrapped his son in a blanket, then returned to his wife’s side. “Should we get you to a hospital?” he asked.

“I feel fine, James. No need to go just yet. Besides…” She lay her head on his shoulder and looked up at the stars. “I don’t want this moment to end just yet.”

He chuckled softly. “Mama was right, just as always. This will make the perfect memory.”
James loved the way Gloria looked when full with child—the sway of her hips as she scuttled around carrying the extra burden, the way her face and breasts filled out just a little extra, and her hair became thick and wavy. He never grew tired of it, just as he never grew tired of spoiling her and their four precious little girls. She had wanted to stop at Constance, but he had convinced her to try one final time for a son. He knew she craved a little boy every bit as much as he did, and besides, pregnancy suited her well.

When he returned home from work that evening and wrapped her in his arms, she saddled him with a kiss so ferocious, so needy, that he doubted they’d even stop at five. One day they’d have a whole brood of children running circles around the both of them—too in love with each other and with their family to have the heart to stop.

“Daddy! Daddy!” Beverly cried, racing into his arms and peppering his cheeks with kisses.

“Daddy!” Victoria said, tugging at the hem of his coat. “Look what I made in school.” She held up a colorful finger painting for his appraisal.

“Da-da!” Even Constance, who was just learning to speak, seemed pleased by his arrival.

“There’s mi hijo,” his mother-in-law called from the couch where she sat with her swollen ankles propped up. “Abuelo and I have a special surprise for you after supper.”

“What is it? What is it?” His little girls chanted, jumping up and down with excitement.

“Let’s have supper first. Your mama has worked so hard to prepare it, after all. Then.” Her eyes twinkled with mischief. “Then we will have your surprise.”

The girls raced through dinner. Even James found himself shoveling in each spoonful much faster than usual. 

“Can we have our surprise now please, Abuelita?” his eldest, Victoria, asked.

“Yes, come outside and see!” 

James helped his ailing mother-in-law to her feet and held onto her arm as they followed the girls into the front yard. Even before he saw it, he heard the girls’ exclamations of joy rise up into the air like bright bunches of balloons.

“Wow!”

“Is that for us?”

“It’s the biggest bus I’ve seen in my whole life!”

Sure enough, a giant gleaming camper stood proudly by the curb. His father-in-law stood before it jangling the keys in his direction. “Your last chance to make a special memory before the new baby comes,” he explained. “Go, make it a good one.”

He winked and tossed the keys toward James, who caught them with ease.

“It’s too much, Mama!” Gloria argued, but James could tell from the look on her face that she was quite pleased by the gesture.

“Hush now,” her mother chided. “Go, enjoy yourselves. Just the six of you. Soon you will be seven, and the girls need this time besides. Your papa and brothers will take care of everything while you’re away. When you come home, the nursery will have a fresh coat of paint and the house too.”

Her father nodded. “Go. Take the weekend. We will be all right on our own for a few days.”

* * *

Gloria cuddled with her daughters on the blanket they’d spread out in the grass, while James worked on getting a fire started.

“I’m hungry, Mama,” Jacqueline said.

The baby kicked at the sound of its sister’s voice, and Gloria smiled to herself. Even though this was supposed to be their last big hurrah before the baby joined them, she was still very much a part of this time as well. Gloria thought of the baby as a she, because, well, she and James had a track record and all.

“We’ll eat soon. First Daddy has to get the fire going, then we’ll roast hotdogs and marshmallows and corn. Doesn’t that sound yummy?”

The baby kicked again, harder than before. “Hush, little one. You’ll get some too.” She giggled and tried to relax, despite the growing pain in her abdomen. Her daughters ran through the campgrounds and in and out of the RV, playing tag and getting out their pent up energy from the long drive.

The girls screeched with delight. Normally, the sound of their fun would bring a smile to her face, but this time it shot straight through her brain causing a wicked headache. Then came a hard bump, knocking the wind right out of her. She looked to reprimand the daughter who had obviously run straight into her during play, but the three bigger girls were tearing through the camper, and Constance sat nearby playing with her favorite stuffed bear.

Kick.

The baby. Oh no, she…

Twist.

But Gloria wasn’t due for another three weeks, and she always carried to term—a few days past it actually.

Sploosh.

Her water broke, leaving her with no other possibility. But they were at least an hour and a half from the nearest hospital, from Mama and home. And James…

A searing pain ripped through Gloria, and she cried out from both the pain and shock of it all.

Her daughters came bounding out of the trailer.

“Mama…?” She could hear tears in Jacqueline’s voice as the little girl—the one who had always been the most nurturing of the bunch—pressed the back of her hand to her mother’s forehead to check for fever.

“Mama, what’s wrong?”

“The… baby…” Gloria huffed, having a hard time getting the words out. 

That was when her hero arrived. 

The moment James saw her, he dropped the bundle of sticks he’d been carrying to feed the fire and ran to her side.

“Girls,” he said calmly. “Go inside. Victoria, get some water. Jacqueline, bring out the sleeping bags and towels. Beverly, mind Constance. The new baby has decided we shouldn’t have all this fun without including him.”

Gloria stopped worrying then and put all her trust in James and in God. Neither would let her or this baby down. She was sure of it.

* * *

“Victoria, can I trust you with a very big favor?” James asked when the girls returned with the supplies as requested. “I need you to help your sisters have their dinner and then put them to bed. Can you do that for me, sweetie?”

“Yes, Daddy.” Her eyes darted toward her mother and a frown crept across her small face. “Is—is Mama going to be okay?”

He laughed to help put her and the others at ease. “Of course, of course. The baby is on the way. I’ll come in and wake you up once he’s here, okay?”

“Okay.” Her mind seemingly put at ease, Victoria skipped away, ushering each of her younger sisters into the van.

He poured some water into a cup for Gloria, then, when he was sure his daughters were out of earshot, asked, “Is everything okay, mi corazon? Should we move inside?”

She squeezed his hand and attempted to smile. “No, no, I want to be here under the stars. It’s a nice change from all those times at home staring up at the ceiling.”

“Should we drive back to town? I can—?”

She placed a hand on his arm as if to stop him from fussing. “I don’t think we’ll have enough time. This baby is not quite as patient as the rest.”

“Patience is overrated.” He settled down with her and began to massage her calves between the contractions. If he kept talking, perhaps she’d be distracted from the pain. He had nothing else to give her as an analgesic, so his words would have to be enough.

“I had to wait years—years—to meet you. The hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Maybe this baby feels the same. Nine months is too long to wait when it comes to meeting the most wonderful woman in the whole entire world.” 

He hadn’t meant to get so sentimental on her, but as he watched her push through the pain of labor to bring them this beautiful gift of another perfect child, he just couldn’t help it. As much as he was continually overwhelmed by his love for her, James felt his affection surge to even higher levels.

“You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” he said with tears in his eyes as he held tightly to his wife’s hand. “Everything they put me through in that camp, all of it, was worth it, because it led me to you.”

“James, stop.” She attempted to let go of his hand. 

He’d gotten too corny for her, but he wanted to make sure she knew. “I mean it, I love you so—”

“No, James. Stop. I love you too, but I need you to get ready. The baby’s coming right now,” she huffed. “We need to… focus… on… Aaaah!”

And their fifth child came screaming into the world, bright red, full of spirit, and…

“It’s a boy,” he whispered. Then louder, “Gloria, it’s a boy! Meet our son!” James cut the cord, then placed the baby on his mother’s chest and covered them both with a blanket to protect them from the chilly night air.

“I’ll be right back. I have to go tell the girls! Oh, they’ll be so happy, Gloria. I’m so happy!” He kissed her forehead, then the baby’s, leaving mother and son alone briefly so he could go get the rest of the family to share in this moment.

* * *

Gloria couldn’t believe it. The baby was here, and a boy. Ever since she’d lost her brother, she’d known she wanted a son to raise in his honor. She also wanted James to have a boy of his own so he could experience all those important father-son bonding moments she knew he craved. Yes, he loved his girls with his entire heart, but a boy was special in a different way. And now they had one to call their own.

“Jacob Ricardo Morgan, that’s what we’ll call you,” she told the baby, pressing him to her bosom. “Named after two great men. You’ve got a lot to live up to, little one, but don’t worry, Mama will be there to support you every step of the way.”

The baby latched on just as her other children emerged from the camper and tore over to where she and the baby lay nuzzled together.

“Oh, wow! We have a brother!” they exclaimed.

“Mama, can I sing the baby a song?” Jacqueline asked, pressing her face close to Gloria’s.

“I think he’d like that,” she answered, smiling up at her girls.

“I want to sing too,” Beverly cried.

“We should all sing. After all, he’s all of our brother.”

James laughed and mussed up Victoria’s hair. “That’s a good point, Vicky, and what should we sing to him?”

She thought for a few moments, then her eyes lit up and she spoke so fast he could hardly understand her. “Since we’re camping, I think we should sing Kumbaya. I think the baby will like it. It’s kind of like a lullaby. Right, Daddy?”

“Oh, yes, yes!” Beverly shouted, joining in Victoria’s excitement.

But Jacqueline pouted, “I don’t know that song…”

“Come here,” Gloria said reaching out her free arm. “It’s an easy song to learn. We’ll all teach you.”

The girls cuddled with their mother as James finally brought the fire to life. The sound of their voices mixing together as the heat crackled before them was the most beautiful thing James had heard in his entire life. 

“James, come hold your son,” Gloria urged once they had all sung a few rounds and the baby had finished his first meal outside the womb. And when she placed the tiny bundle—the smallest yet of all his children—in James’s arm, he knew he was a goner.

The baby stretched his arms forward and accidentally scratched himself near the eye.  

“Hey, hey, buddy. Careful,” he warned. “You’ll need those eyes. There’s so much beauty in this world, so much you still need to see.”

He wrapped his son in a blanket, then returned to his wife’s side. “Should we get you to a hospital?” he asked.

“I feel fine, James. No need to go just yet. Besides…” She lay her head on his shoulder and looked up at the stars. “I don’t want this moment to end just yet.”

He chuckled softly. “Mama was right, just as always. This will make the perfect memory.”

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