“Ha! Do you have company?”
“How’d you guess?” she asked. “Yes, there are some things I need.”
She listed about a dozen products that he could get for her.
“Okay, we’re headed out now. Emily needs a shopping trip even though Walmart is not her favorite place.”
“Aw, poor Em,” Bridget said, laughing. “Text me when you get home.”
Strolling through the enormous department store, pushing the cart with Emily in her car seat felt fatherly to Luke as she tried to sit up to observe everything they passed. It felt normal for a change.
First, he stopped by the pharmacy department where he loaded up on all the things Bridget said she’d need, including feminine hygiene items that made him grin, wondering if she had asked for them on purpose to see if she could embarrass him. He arranged the products in the basket, took a picture of them with his phone and then sent it to her with the text,Should I post these on Instagram?Her response?Nowith a laughing emoji.
In the grocery department, he loaded up on the foods he knew she liked, hoping her taste buds hadn’t changed too much. He decided that he’d invite her cousins for a get-together on Saturday. Standing off to the side of the aisle, he sent a group text to the three brothers, inviting them to a welcome home gathering for Bridget with the notation that they’d be the only guests. In quick succession, he received three positive replies. Saturday was going to be Bridget’s day. He’d have to come back to shop closer to the date.
He bent down and gave Emily a kiss. “Let’s get out of here.”
Back home, with Emily sound asleep, Luke unloaded everything into the elevator and they rode up to the second floor, Emily’s head on his shoulder. Safe in her crib, he tiptoed out of the room.
While he put their purchases away, his phone beeped with a text.
I’m discharged! Come get me tomorrow morning!
He quickly called her. “I’m thrilled!”
“Me, too. Are you ready though? You thought you would have a little more time,” she said.
“I’m so ready. They have to invent a new word for what I am.”
“Thank you, Luke, for everything.”
“Aw, I love you, Bridget.”
She couldn’t say it back—she never did when he said it—so she said the first thing that came to her mind.
“I know you do and I’m so grateful. I want to learn to be your partner. I want to learn to be a mother to Emily,” she said. “It’s even more important than getting around with the prosthesis. I figure I can crawl if I can’t walk.”
“Is your leg hurting?”
“Not much,” she said, underplaying the pain. “I’m learning skills to overcome the discomfort.”
“I’ll do what I can to help.”
“I know you will. Thank you for loving me.”
“You never have to thank me for that,” he said.
“My parents were here when I got the news. I’m afraid they might become a nuisance.”
“We need them, though. Think about it. If you want to go back to work eventually, and I have more work than I can handle…”
“Aw, you really think I can go back into nursing?”
“You can or I’ll be doing some litigation,” he said. “As long as you can do the job, they can’t discriminate against you for war injuries.”
“Sounds like you’ve been researching.” Luke was a great one to search for answers online.