I have no idea how long it took before I started to recover from the shock. Whether it was days or weeks. It actually felt like months but I'm pretty sure it just felt that way due to how absolutely miserable I was. I was spending nearly all my time huddled in a little ball on the bed. Crying until I could cry no more. Sleeping and then sobbing into the pillow again. The pillow was always damp because of it.
The rest of the family was all that kept me from having a visit from social welfare. I heard doors opening, things happening in the kitchen, babies being cared for. Occasionally someone would open the door to our - I mean my - bedroom. Sometimes they called my name but I never answered. There were times when someone would force me to eat some food but I stopped the moment they stopped.
Poor Buddy was the one who finally got me out of bed. I think he managed to slip away from whoever was supposed to be watching him.
"Go away. Leave me."
"But Mummy? Doncha wuv me any more? I wanna cuddle." Buddy was sounding lost, lonesome and very sad. I realised that poor Buddy had lost two parents that day. That wasn't fair to him or the triplets.
"Oh, I'm sorry Buddy. Of course I love you." It was hard getting out of bed. While I had plenty of rest, I really hadn't had much to eat. I was light headed and the room threatened to go grey. Still one of the two important guys left in my life needed me. "Come here, little man. Give Mummy a big hug."
Buddy squealed in delight as I lifted him up for his cuddle. "Mummy!" He was loud enough that I heard footsteps approaching. "I missed you so much Mummy." My dad had just poked his head in the door, he was starting to smile when he saw I was finally up. "I miss Daddy too. Where's Daddy?" asked Buddy.
Dad's smile faltered when he heard Buddy's words. My heart, well, it had already been broken so thoroughly that I only sobbed a few times when I heard that. "Gone, Buddy. He's gone far far away."
"When will he come home?" Oh, my poor little boy. Buddy so looks up to his father, now what?
"I don't know Buddy, but not for a long time. Can you be a brave big boy for me? Help Mummy while Daddy is gone?" Assuming I let him come home at all.
Buddy looked at me with his bright eyes. He reached toward one of the fresh tears tracking its way down my face. "Daddy make Mummy cry?" I nodded. "Daddy bad!"
"Your daddy is very bad. You'll be good for Mummy?"
"Buddy will be good for Mummy." Oh right now I wish my little man didn't look so much like his father.
I gave him another cuddle. "That's my little man."
My dad finally came to the conclusion that I wasn't going to collapse again. "Penny," he paused obviously thinking about what to say. "Food?"
My stomach rumbled at the mere suggestion. "Oh, yes, good idea." I carefully put Buddy down, fighting to keep my balance. Dad walked carefully behind me as I slowly made my way to the table.
"So you and Mum been here all the time?"
Mum answered, "No dear. The whole family has been here. Stephen and Abbey pop in almost every morning before he opens the pub. Vincent and your niece Miriam are spending a lot of the nights here. Miriam is now the most experienced baby sitter in town."
Dad interrupted the conversation. "Only a little soup for the moment, you haven't had a decent meal for awhile." Dad set a small bowl of soup in front of me. It smelled divine. "Brad and Em have been coming over most afternoons. Even James and Jaimee regularly visit though I think triplets have permanently put them off kids of their own. Veronica keeps trying to come but her hospital schedule is nearly impossible."
"I don't know what to say. Without you guys," I trailed off. Without them, I might have lost everything that's important to me.
"It's just what families do," my Mum said quietly. "You needed us, we were there."
I saw Dad off in the corner sending a few text messages. I could guess what the contents were "She lives" would be the gist of it. A few minutes later, he came over. "Em wants to know if it's alright if she and Brad visit."
I blinked a few times. "Why would I have a problem with that?"
"You might hold it against them that their son broke your heart." Dad sort of shrugged at me.
"They aren't to blame. There is only one person to blame for that." I wasn't sure if I was going to scream or what. "Him, I'd happily break in two." I finished my bowl of soup chasing up the last drops with the spoon.
I thought for a moment. "Not yet. I think this needs to settle properly first." I started to push my chair back to find that Buddy was playing just behind me. "Hey, little man, how about you move just a little?"
"Mummy pway?" he asked hopefully.
"In a minute, Buddy. You want to help me with the babies?" I pointed to the triplets room. "They need cuddles too."
"Can Mummy pway after?" He tugged at the bottom of my shirt. "Pwease?"
Well, I have to give Buddy bonus points for persistance. "We will have to wait for your other granddad and grandmom to arrive so we can say hi. After that, we can play for a little."
So, Buddy and I visited the triplets. How could Nick leave these three lovely babies? Ruby was coughing a bit in her crib. I checked, her temperature was fine. I cuddled her, then Daisy and finally Joey. I showed each of them to Buddy, who said hi to his little siblings.
By the time the babies were back in their cribs, Brad and Em had arrived. “Penny!” gushed Em. “It’s so good to finally see you on your feet again.” My father-in-law didn’t say anything but did pull me into a big hug.
“Mum was telling me about how everyone pitched in to help. I’m sorry that I was in such a state I had no idea who was around.”
“You aren’t the one that should be sorry. Between the triplet and that our son suddenly went overseas, it’s not surprising that you’ve had a breakdown,” said Em. “Our son, on the other hand, could never be sorry enough for what he did.”
Brad nodded. “We’ve been hoping that you’d recover soon. Your dad told us that Grants are born tough, and there wasn’t a need for therapy. I’m glad he was right.”
I suddenly felt shaky and the room threatened to go grey on me. I was sitting on the floor with everyone except Buddy staring at me in concern. “Penny, are you ok?”
“Just a little dizzy Dad. I don’t think it’s anything to worry about really.” After spending so much time in bed, I was bound to be a bit shaky.
Buddy took my sitting on the floor as a sign. “Mummy. Here’s my favourite toy.” He showed me that odd doll that had turned up in the mail when he was born. “You can pway now?”
I looked at all of Buddy’s grandparents, watching us. It was good to see how much my family would pull together to help. “Yes Buddy, we can play now.”