Grissom looked up from his journal at the small figure standing on the other side of the coffee table and inwardly sighed. He hadn’t been concentrating on the article much himself, and could tell from the worry on the little face looking at him that he wasn’t alone in his distraction.
“When will Mom come home?” There was a plaintive note in her question even though it was clear she was trying hard not to whine. Grissom appreciated her effort, hard as it was for a seven-year-old. He set the journal down and patted the seat next to him on the sofa; needing no second invitation, Bingo scooted over and sat down, burrowing against his side and looked up at him, waiting for his reply.
“Mom will be gone a while longer. I know it’s hard and I miss her too, but the doctor says she needs to be monitored at least one more day.”
“It means watched and looked out for. The hospital does it for patients like Mom who need someone to keep a careful eye on them,” Grissom explained. He slipped an arm around his daughter, absently marveling once again at her compact perfection; small torso, long arms and legs, Sara’s eyes and the endearing blend of his curls and coloring.
“Will Mom die?” A matter-of-fact question this time, but in a little whisper that made his chest pang. Grissom shook his head; glad he could be honest with Bingo.
“What’s wrong with her?”
Grissom drew in a breath. He knew the question was coming, and being a truthful man at heart he wanted to be dry and straightforward, the way he would have with friends and colleagues. But this was a child, and his own to boot; an intelligent person in her limited years and he would not for the world hurt, or lie or worry her if he could help it.
“Inside of your mom is a new person,” he began slowly. “A baby.”
Bingo looked up a her father with bright, excited eyes, a thousand new questions forming on her lips but Grissom cocked his head and she squirmed instead, well aware of his patient and unspoken directive. He spoke again. “The baby is doing very well and growing and getting bigger. But at the same time, it’s hard on Mom’s body. Some of the things the baby needs make Mom weak and tired, so she needs to have the doctors give her vitamins and special medicine to help her keep her strength up.”
“Mom’s going to have a baby? I’m going to have a sister? When is the baby coming? Can I hold her? Will it be soon?” Bingo burst out, bouncing on the couch now, jostling Grissom with every question. He calmly tightened his grip around Bingo’s shoulders, calming her a bit, feeling relief, amusement and consternation at her boisterous excitement. Sara had assured him their daughter would be pleased, but until this moment he hadn’t been sure.
“Yes Mom is going to have a baby, it could be a brother, the baby is due in about five months, yes you can hold him or her, and about half a year is soon enough.”
“Half a YEAR!” Bingo burst out indignantly. Grissom gave a little apologetic shrug through his grin.
“I’m afraid so, Bingo. A human is a complicated thing to make—it takes time.”
that why mom is getting kind of . . . “ she hesitated as tact
caught up with
her, but at her father’s gentle nod she continued,
“ . . . cranky and sort of
fat? But not a
“Yes. Babies take up room on the inside of a mom, and yours is usually pretty slender. When YOU were the one in there people teased her that she’d swallowed a watermelon, you know. Greg especially.”
“Yeah, he would do that,” Bingo agreed, laughing a little. Another thought struck her. “Dad?”
“How did the baby get in there?”
Grissom blinked, caught unawares by the question. He’d known theoretically that at some point either he or Sara might have to deal with THE question, but always assumed it would be later down the line.
As in when Sara would be around to answer it.
Bingo looked up at him, waiting for an answer, brown eyes searching his face in a trusting fashion. Grissom mentally took a deep breath.
“Your mother and I made the baby together. I had part of it, and she had part of it, and together they combined to create him or her.”
Bingo grinned. “Like the smoke bombs!”
A rush of relief hit Grissom and he nodded, grateful to his daughter for providing a safe analogy. “Yes, exactly, like smoke bombs.”
“And mom’s the bottle TOO, huh?” Bingo beamed, pleased to have figured it all out. Her father closed his eyes, remembering vividly the night four months back when he and Sara had come back from the restaurant to an empty house.
Bingo had been spending the night with Catherine and Lindsey, and the atmosphere of enticement had grown when Sara had begun a playful striptease just inside the front door. She’d shimmied and laughingly eluded his grasp, leaving her blouse here, her slacks there until Grissom had caught up with her at the back door in the kitchen and carried her out to the hammock in the yard, making love to her there twice before either of them had thought about the consequences.
Thankfully Sara was as delighted as he was about the pregnancy. “It’s the right time. Bingo won’t be alone. I don’t think it’s good for any kid to grow up alone,” she’d told him.
“I grew up alone—“ he’d protested, but half-heartedly, and Sara smiled that patient smile of hers at him until he nodded, acknowledging her point.
“What are we going to name her?” Bingo broke into Grissom’s reverie, bouncing a little on her father’s lap. He winced, and shifted her back to the couch. Figaro leaped up, a bit arthritically and curled at Grissom’s other side, seeking warmth.
“It COULD be a boy, Bingo. Statistically there’s a fifty-fifty chance you know.”
“Yeaaaahhhhh . . . . “ She acknowledged, grudgingly, “But we don’t NEED a boy. We have you and Fig and Dante—that’s THREE boys already and Mom and I are the only girls, so we gotta have one more girl to make it equal.”
“Honey, the world doesn’t always balance out. I want you to promise me that if it’s a boy you’re not going to get mad about it.” Grissom softly pleaded. Bingo fretted a moment, not wanting to disappoint her father, but not sure she was able to give up on her wish for equality.
Finally she gave a huge, theatrical sigh. “Oh-KAY, Dad. I promise I’ll try not to get mad if it IS a boy, but it might not be. So the doctors are looking at the baby? Do THEY know if it’s a boy or girl?”
Grissom smiled to himself, still not used to the lightning shifts of a seven-year-old’s mind. He petted Figaro gently before answering.
“Yes. The doctors have looked at the baby a few times now and say it’s healthy. Mommy had a special test to check on it, and we COULD find out if it’s a boy or girl, but we’re not going to.”
“But WHY NOT!?” came Bingo’s anguished cry. She was loud enough to make Figaro twitch his ears disgustedly and look over at her; Bingo redeemed herself by reaching over and scratching him under his fuzzy chin. Grissom stroked the cat with his free hand.
“Because, Bingo Bongo, your mother and I don’t get enough good surprises in our lives. We promised each other that we’d be happy with whatever came our way as long as we had each other. We didn’t know what you were when Mom was pregnant with you, and we’re not peeking this time either.”
“Oh MANNN—“ Bingo huffed, rolling her eyes and falling back on the cushions of the couch in prime dramatic fashion. Grissom shot her a dry look tinged with love, inwardly amused at her dramatics. He reached out and caught her bare foot, giving it a squeeze; it was slender and strong, like Sara’s.
“Just think of your sibling as an early Christmas present.”
“What’s a sibling?”
“A brother or sister. And at this rate you’ll know which in what month, Bingo?” He challenged her. The girl brightened, counting on her fingers.
“July, August, Steptember, October, November—Oh, our baby will be here by Thanksgiving, huh?”
We might have to have Nana Avra and Grandpa Will come here this year
us going to the
“Yeah that would be okay I guess. We can still have turkey and green beans and silly salad here instead of at the beach. But the baby will drink her milk so they’ll be a lot left for us.”
“Nana Avra always makes enough for everybody.” Grissom reminded his daughter, crossing his eyes just enough to make her giggle sweetly. She was quiet a moment, and the three of them; father, cat and daughter simply sat for a while. Then Figaro stretched, and moved away, thumping heavily onto the carpet and slinking out. Grissom looked at Bingo’s profile, intrigued by her thoughtful expression, and when she turned to him, the expression on her face made him lean forward. She had Sara’s serious look; the slightly forlorn one that always touched a place deep and forever tender within him.
“Yes Bingo?” he responded softly.
“Even if the baby is a boy, you’ll still love me, right?”
Grissom reached for her foot again and tugged her to him, pulling Bingo into his arms and hugging her. Before Sara he’d never hugged, never understood the power and comfort of the act; now it was the first thing he could give to make his daughter understand.
Carefully Grissom whispered into her hair.
“I could never STOP loving you, Bingo mine, not even if I had a dozen sons. A hundred sons. A million billion sons. You are my firstborn and will always be in my heart. Got that, Sara-Mary Bingo Grissom the first?”
And the tightening of a small pair of arms around him, squeezing hard was joyous answer enough.