I don’t remember how I got home that night, or even how long I’d been out there, just wandering the streets fruitlessly and calling out Kira’s name. I guess going home without Kira would have made everything that much more real. If I went home empty-handed, then my daughter was well and truly missing and I just couldn’t handle that thought.
But wandering around outside only delayed the inevitable, and I guess somewhere in my mind I realized that, because my footsteps gradually took me closer and closer to home, until I walked through that front door, indeed empty-handed, and broke down into a wave of fresh tears.
“Tamara! There you are! Where have you been?! Where’s Kira?” Jiang blurted out as soon as he saw me, rushing up to me and pulling me into his arms. “Are you okay? What happened?”
“I can’t-…I can’t find her,” I finally managed through my sobs, holding onto Jiang tightly so he couldn’t pull back and look at me. I didn’t want him to look at me. I didn’t want anyone to look at me. I was just so ashamed. I had messed up so, so badly.
“What do you mean?” Jiang asked as calmly as he could, though there was a hitch in his voice that suggested mild panic. I took a few deep breaths before I could speak, during which time he rubbed my back gently and somehow waited patiently.
“I…I forgot,” I whispered into his shoulder. “Came home from work so late. I forgot. I totally forgot.” My voice caught, but I cleared it and continued mumbling into his neck. “We got into a fight and Kira ran out. She left, Jiang. Our baby girl left!” I lost myself to my tears once again, holding onto Jiang so tightly that he had to gently pull away in order to breathe.
“I’m….I’m sure she’ll be back,” he responded after a long and awkward pause. “She’s not the type to really leave. That’s…that’s just not like her.”
“But what if she doesn’t, Jiang?” I asked quietly, finally looking up at my husband and meeting his eyes. “What if something happens to her?” Jiang met my gaze and then took a deep breath, clearly exercising extreme efforts to stay calm.
“She’s a smart girl. She’ll be fine,” he responded, more to himself than me. “We should drive around though. See if we catch her anywhere,” he suggested.
And so that’s what we did. We slowly drove around the entirety of Neverglade, stopping at public parks and other likely locations to hide in and searching on foot, but again we couldn’t find her anywhere and eventually had to return home. I think both of us secretly hoped that our daughter would be home when we pulled into that garage, but the house remained bereft of her presence…as did our hearts.
I slept horribly that night, constantly waking up because I thought I heard the front door open or the phone ring or the creak of the stairs as someone tiptoed on them, but they were all figments of my imagination and constant disappointments. Jiang fared no better, sleeping with his cellphone right by his head and on maximum volume in case the police station called back (we had called them earlier to alert them of what had happened). All in all it was probably one of the worst nights of my life.
Eventually though I guess exhaustion took over me because the last I remember it being about 5:00 in the morning and the next I was being woken up by a phone call at 9:45 AM. I honestly hadn’t even remembered falling asleep, and now here I was sleeping in.
The ring made me jump right out of bed, successfully scaring Jiang (who’d been passed out beside me) as I scrambled to grab my phone.
I frowned when I saw the name on the screen: “Lynn Winters.” Normally I’d be happy to hear from my little sister, but right now I just wasn’t in the mood.
Still, I answered it, albeit reluctantly. “Hello?”
“Yeah. Look, I can’t really talk right now-”
“Because Kira ran away? Yeah. I know. She’s kind of asleep in my bedroom at the moment. I found her sleeping on my porch when I went outside to get the paper this morning.”
“Yeah, I know. I was kind of surprised myself, but there she was, curled up in a ball behind a planter. I didn’t recognize her at first actually. She’s grown so much! But anyway I asked why she didn’t just knock on the door and she said she didn’t want to wake me up. Girl runs away from home and still has manners,” Lynn remarked with a laugh. I found the laugh grating though, annoyance and frustration currently dominating my feelings.
“YOU TELL HER TO GET HER BUTT BACK HERE RIGHT NOW! I CANNOT BELIEVE-”
“Woah, woah, woah, Tamara! Relax. I promised I wouldn’t tell you that she was here, but you know, I figured you were probably worried out of your mind and decided to call you anyway. She said she was going to go home later today…maybe tomorrow. She just needs some space, sis. She’s really upset.”
“Well so am I,” I retorted.
“I figured as much. And so does she. But yeah, she’s fine Tamara. Just hurt, you know? She said she didn’t know where else to go, but that she couldn’t stay in ‘that house’ one moment longer, as she put it. ….you forgot her birthday?” Lynn asked. Even though her voice wasn’t judgmental my heart sank, guilt taking over everything else I felt now.
“Yeah,” I mumbled. “Horrible, I know. You have no idea how bad I feel.”
“I can only imagine. I think Kira knows too…but, you know.”
“Yeah. I know,” I sighed, rubbing my forehead now as I felt the onset of a headache. “Okay. Well. Look after her and please…encourage her to come home as soon as possible.”
“I will. I’ll talk to her as soon as she wakes up. Let her know we talked and all. I got this, Tamara. I don’t know her too well, but she’s a pretty mature young lady it seems. I can tell. You’ve done a great job with her, you know. Even if you don’t feel like it right now.”
I frowned, silent for a long moment before I could think of anything to say. “I…I could have…should have done more.”
“We always can. I’ll talk to you later, okay? Think I’ll make some pancakes or something for her when she wakes up.”
“Apple is her favorite,” I said quietly, staring down at the ground.
“Hmmm….okay. Thanks, Tamara.”
“No, thank you.”
“It’s no problem. Talk to you later. Bye!”
I hung up the phone with a heavy sigh, recalling the conversation for Jiang, who had been listening closely and continuously shooting me questioning looks.
Kira was okay, safe and sound at my little sister’s house. So why did I still feel so crappy?
I felt so crappy in fact that later that morning after a bit of cereal I ended up expelling said cereal, my stomach clearly rising a revolt against me.
Great. It was just what I needed right now.
More things against me.
Which, by the way, it was clear Kira was when she came home a little after dinner that night, going up to Jiang to apologize and hug him, looking right at me and nodding slightly, and then heading up to her room, which she didn’t leave for the rest of the night.
She even ignored James when he tried to knock on her door, to which he just sighed and walked off, heading downstairs to continue to type away on his laptop, as usual.
I considered going up to him, but decided against it, knowing that when James was typing this furiously it was typically best not to disturb him.
If I thought things might get better as Kira calmed down, I was wrong, because she continued to give me the silent treatment, although besides that she seemed to be doing better. She joined both the art club and newspaper club at her school and was even going to have one of her paintings be displayed in an upcoming art show—a fact that she was extremely proud of.
As was I…I even baked her her favorite dessert in celebration, and she did say thanks, but not much else. I guess she didn’t have anything else to say to me, and while part of me understood, the other part of me was just hurt.
I wished more than anything that I could just put her in my shoes so she could see how truly and badly I felt for royally screwing things up, but as that was impossible, I would just have to continue to give her time and do anything I could possibly think of in the meantime to show her that I loved her with all of my heart…and always did.
Now this strategy was actually going okay and Kira had even begun to say a couple off-hand things to me before everything got screwed up again.
It was a regular Tuesday morning and I was going to the doctor for my yearly physical and all when I discovered, lo and behold, that was I pregnant.
WHAT, WHAT, WHAT!?!?
Jiang and I hadn’t even been TRYING, totally content with the size of our current family and taking efforts to actually NOT expand our family. Go figure that I’d be in the .01% or something or I don’t even know WHAT went wrong, but there we have it. I was pregnant. Turns out it wasn’t early onset menopause, which I’d actually been fearing and gone to the doctor about in the first place. Nope. Not early menopause, says the doctor, but a BABY. Jeez.
It wasn’t like it was necessarily badnews or anything, but it was, at least, totally unexpected. At least Jiang’s children had moved out and were in China now, I guess? Ugh.
And on top of that, we ALSO found out that our cat, Cleo, was expecting kittens, another thing that completely threw us for a loop.
James was pretty indifferent about both bits of news, while Kira was excited about the kittens, and literally furious about the baby.
“Just another baby for you to ignore! Or maybe it’ll be your new favorite and neither James NOR I will get your freaking attention!” Kira had screamed in a fury, again storming away from me. This time she stormed up the stairs though—not out the door, but as you might imagine, this was of little comfort to me.
I spent that night in my room crying while Jiang tried unsuccessfully to cheer me up. He hadn’t been too thrilled with Kira’s behavior and the fact that she was now grounded for the next two weeks was a testament to that, but it didn’t change the fact that my relationship with my daughter was still no where where I wanted it to be.
I just didn’t understand. I knew that there were times when I paid more attention to James than her, I could SEE that now and it was glaringly obvious, but I hadn’t viewed it as that bad. Didn’t I teach her how to talk? Comfort her when she was scared? Be her friend? Go to her shows? Help her out with her homework? I knew I had. I KNEW that, so shouldn’t it have counted for SOMETHING?
“She was just upset,” Jiang reassured me after I said as much to him, desperate to figure things out. “People say things they don’t mean when they’re upset. I think since she’s already had feelings of being left out, she’s scared having another sibling will make things worse. I keep telling her that it won’t—that she’s the big sister and as such she needs to set the example and look after her siblings, but the thought didn’t cheer her up,” he mused.
“Since when does a teenager enjoy having more responsibilities foisted on them?” I asked with a bit of a sad smile. Jiang didn’t quite get it, going on about how it was an honor and so on and so forth, but my mind was still on Kira and how I could fix things.
I’d really been making such progress too. Goddamn it all.
We surmised that Cleo had been pregnant for longer than we’d originally thought when one evening our dinner was interrupted by a terrible yowling sound. We all exchanged confused looks until my mom suddenly spoke up.
“Oh my goodness, look at Cleo!” she cried out, looking at the foot of the table. All of our eyes turned only to see our cat laying down and yowling, while also breathing a little heavily. “Oh no, not in the kitchen!”
But oh yes, Cleo had decided to lay down in the kitchen, perhaps because it was warm, or perhaps just to taunt us, and gave birth that night to a single little kitten.
He looked a lot like his daddy, Marc, only he had Cleo’s bright yellow eyes. What with the gold and orange combination we named him Helios, after the Egyptian god of the sun. Besides, it fit the Egyptian naming theme I had going with the cats.
He was a ball of adorable and I even saw Kira light up and cuddle the little bundle of fluff in excitement, which was surprising to me since she typically liked to “stop smiling and look horribly pissed” every time I was in the room. It was a rare treat, but it left me wondering whether or not this sight would ever not be a “rare” occasion.
Pissed or not though, Kira couldn’t completely ignore me when I woke up in the middle of the night crying out in pain. She’d actually just been on her way to bed after staying up late painting when she heard me and burst into the bedroom, realizing that Jiang was at work….which left me entirely alone.
“MOM! Are you okay?!” she cried out in a panic, all thoughts of hating me completely gone from her mind. I could have cried from joy right then to receive such an outpouring of affection from my daughter, but I was a little too distracted by the intense, uncomfortable pressure building in my lower abdomen. I tried to answer “yes,” but a contraction hit me right at that moment, causing me to let out a strangled cry instead. This did nothing to calm Kira of course….
“OH MY GOD, MOM! Should I call dad? Should I call 911? Dad is at the HOSPITAL!”
“I…I know, sweetie,” I said between deep breaths. “I’ll call him…can you drive?” I asked her, looking at the panic grow within her eyes and then settle as she forced herself to calm down.
“Yeah,” she said with an emphatic nod, and then ran off to put on her shoes and get the car started. I could have burst out into tears all over again at seeing my young daughter act like such an adult, but this baby was coming whether I liked it or not, and I had to get going!
About 5 minutes later I’d gotten dressed and called Jiang, and after another 10 I was being helped into the hospital by my still mildly panicking daughter, who may or may not have been breaking the speed limit to get here so fast. Jiang was waiting by the front doors, looking tired, disheveled, and slightly pale.
“Tamara! Are you alright? I’m so sorry I was not at home. It’s been such a busy–”
“It’s okay. Really. Kira drove me. ….this baby wants out!!!”
After my shouts I was quickly herded to my room, but it wasn’t until the sun began to rise that I finally gave birth to our new (and hopefully last this time!) baby……
A beautiful baby girl who we named Amelia Winters!
Now, well and truly, our family was complete.
Amelia’s birth was soon followed by Jiang’s birthday, which was a very small celebration seeing as we were all exhausted. To be honest I think he kind of forgot about his birthday until the kids and I ambushed him with a cake and cries of “Happy Birthday!” but it didn’t seem to be an unpleasant surprise : )
“It’s good because people trust older doctors more!” he joked. Though there might have been some truth in that too, because soon after his birthday, Jiang got a promotion! He was now a certified surgeon at the local hospital, a fact that neither he, nor I, could have been more proud of.
Life has a way of balancing itself though. Whenever there was too much good, something bad was likely right around the corner, and this point in our lives was no different.
It had really been a day like no other. Completely unremarkable. Jiang was at work, the kids were at school, and I was downtown running some errands while my parents watched Amelia, something I was really thankful for as that girl NEEDED attention!
Mom and Dad had just put Amelia down for a nap when Dad decided to do some work on the computer and Mom decided to take a shower…but she took an awfully long time in there….to the point where Dad finally got up to check on her…and found her collapsed on the bathroom floor.
It’d been a heart attack, the doctors told us afterward. There was nothing that we could have done to save her. This did nothing to assuage my father’s guilt though, nor did it do anything to ease the pain for any of us.
The house was quiet for days, save for muffled sobs and whispered prayers. I was a mess, I had to admit. I tried to be strong for the children, who had lost probably the greatest grandmother there was, but I failed in that, because I had lost the best mother I knew anyone could ever have. It was hard to even take care of Amelia, whose cries became extra grating and frustrating in a house that only wanted silence, but I forced myself to. We all did. Even Kira got up some nights, bleary eyed and stumbling into the nursery to quiet her baby sister down.
It was surprising, considering it wasn’t too long ago that she was pissed to high hell that she was getting a new sibling, but after Mom passed away, none of that seemed to matter anymore.
Kira helped me cook, sat and watched TV with me, did her homework in whatever room I happened to be in, and continued to help out with her baby sister. It was almost as if she was suddenly afraid to let me out of her sight, but that was okay, as I greatly appreciated the company. Whenever I was alone I would just think of my mom, and how she wasn’t here with us anymore, and I would break down all over again.
But as hard as it was for me, I knew it was even harder for my dad, who had lost his lifelong partner…his rock, his support, his comfort…the woman he had loved, and still loved, with all of his heart.
Rest in peace, Marina Winters. You will be sorely missed.
It felt wrong to continue life as normally, but as time passes by, it kind of forces you to, pulling you along even if you don’t want to be. The atmosphere in the house gradually became a little lighter, and soon, as always, there were birthdays to celebrate. Not wanting to deprive the children of anything, we planned our normal evening party, but just with our immediate family. We didn’t feel much like huge celebrations quite yet.
Still, we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, stuffing ourselves with birthday cake and generally enjoying each other’s company.
Dad was doing a lot better too, which I was relieved about because for awhile there, it looked like we might lose him too. He was still healthy and active though, and a huge help with Amelia, who really seemed to love him. Maybe it was the yellow glasses…that was beyond her favorite color!
Or hey, who are we kidding? It’s because he is awesome : )
With two teenagers in the house, it felt weird to still be teaching one of our children how to walk, but it kept us young and definitely active as once Amelia did learn to walk, she was constantly running around the house! It was actually kind of horrifying, because I was always convinced that she was going to hit her head on the side of a table or something, but she was pretty coordinated for a toddler…or at least tended to fall on her butt and not her face 😛
It was a rare, quiet evening when Amelia had fallen asleep early that I was watching TV with Kira, her still often sitting in the same room with me even if she didn’t say much. Today she seemed to have gotten tired of her silence though, because she actually spoke up…and it was more than just a fleeting comment.
“Mom, can I talk to you?”
“You can always talk to me,” I responded absently, flipping through the channels for something that wasn’t about pregnant teenagers or toddlers in beauty pageants.
“I just wanted to say…well, that I’m sorry.”
“For?” I looked over at Kira, forgetting the TV for the moment as I looked at my daughter in confusion.
“Yelling at you. Running away. Being an asshole,” she mumbled, hanging her head. “I was so stupid. I know missing my birthday was an accident and I know you love me and I’m really sorry. I just got so jealous!” she burst out, and then stopped as her voice cracked, pressing her lips together. I could feel my own eyes burning as I shook my head, my heart sinking.
“No, honey,” I whispered. “I’m sorry. You were right. I…I was paying more attention to your brother without even realizing it. I was so stupid. It’s just-” and then the flood gates opened and suddenly I couldn’t hold back, spilling out my heart and soul and unable to stop myself from talking. “It’s just…I HAD a baby boy, but I miscarried and I lost him and then you came and I fell in love with you, but I so missed that baby so when I got James it was like that hole in my heart was filled and I just cared for him so much, and it’s a horrible excuse because I never should have treated you two so differently and I’m such a horrible mother and-”
“MOM!” I finally heard Kira interrupt, her eyes opened wide. She had clearly been trying to get my attention for a bit now, but once I’d started talking, I just couldn’t stop and now I was a babbling, blubbering mess. “What are you talking about? You never told me any of this!” she said, looking stricken.
“I didn’t?” I asked stupidly, and then paused as I realized I hadn’t. I hadn’t really told anyone actually. The only reason anyone knew was because they lived in the same house as me, in fact. Hell, no one really knew anything about me honestly. I lived in my own head, trying to figure out my own life and often sharing little about what was going on in my head.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I lived so much in my head, that I was often completely oblivious to things going on around me. I would just become so overly focused on one thing, that I would forget everything, and everyone, else. It happened with Trey and changing myself into someone I wasn’t just to get him to like me; it happened with me traveling all the time and forgetting my family; it happened when Catherine got sick and I almost killed her in my madness to save her;it happened when I got depressed after my miscarriage and the boy that I had lost…and then it happened as I grew obsessed over the son that I had gained, forgetting that I also had a perfect, beautiful daughter as well.
And so I found myself back-pedaling and explaining all of it to Kira, and Jiang, and my father, and even James as he came wandering into the room at some point with Amelia, wondering where everyone had disappeared to.
It became clear to me that I had made many mistakes in my life, and been through so much, but as I looked back, I realized that if I could go back in time, I would probably do exactly the same things over again.
After all…it was all of the adventures that I’d lived through in my life that had led me to this point…and as I looked around at my father, at my husband, and at my beautiful children all sitting around me…I realized that I would never want anything different.
My whole life was, and would continue to be…an adventure worthwhile.
Tamara’s Adventure Journal:
- Visit all Locations √
- Gain all Visa Levels √
- Master Photography √
- Marry a Local, Have a Kid, etc. √
- Unlock all Tombs- X (I don’t think so…but I did unlock a lot, lol)
A/N: Oh…my…GOSH! I have FINALLY finished another generation! This year has been so busy and chaotic that sometimes it felt like this time would never come, but here we have it– DONE DONE DONE! Now I really did love and enjoy Tamara’s generation, but damn it’s going to feel good to finally start a new one, haha. I’ve been on this one for far too long XD
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU all for sticking by me through this, even when updates would be months apart. That means more to me than you’ll ever know as I still love writing this blog and absolutely love reading your comments as well!! I am pretty sure that I’ve chosen the heir at this point, and you’ll soon find out who I chose as I update my blog to reflect the new changes. I will say though that Amelia was never in the running. She’s a cutie, but just so far apart age-wise and hasn’t really had much character development. In fact, the only reason she came into the picture was because I realized Jiang’s LTW was to have 5 children, lol. All good now though 😀
Again, thanks so much for reading as always! The next time you return you shall be plunged into the world of writing…I can already smell all those new books! It’s time for a new story to be told…..