Elle picked up Evan, Tara and Lila at the airport. As she approached the threesome, she gasped at the sight of her emaciated daughter. For a few moments, Tara’s eyes scanned every inch of her mother’s face before she spread her twig-like arms. Elle hugged her, then pulled away and peered into her sunken eyes. “Are you sick?” she asked.
While Tara shrugged, Elle grabbed Evan for a hug. “I’ll explain it on the way,” he whispered in her ear.
Lila stood there, looking up at her grandmother—curiously.
Elle bent down and smiled at the baby. “Hello, my love,” she whispered, “Grandma’s waited much too long to meet you.” The little girl was a living doll. She had Tara’s strawberry blond curls and the same dark eyes as Alice.
Lila grinned. “Hi, Gramma,” she said, and never flinched when Elle scooped her up and kissed her cheek.
Elle looked back at Tara and could feel her eyes swell with tears.
“Grandma?” Evan asked, grabbing her attention.
Elle shook her head, the tears beginning to cascade down her tired face.
“When?” he asked.
Elle reached for his hand. “Last night…right in Grampa’s lap.”
“In the rockin’ chair?” he asked, his voice cracking.
Elle nodded again.
Evan’s eyes filled. “Where else?” he said.
Elle noticed the confusion in her daughter’s eyes and thought, She’s so out of it.
Before Elle could explain, Evan leaned into Tara’s ear and filled it with the bad news. “We’re one day too late. Grandma passed away last night.”
Though delayed, Tara burst into tears.
As they left the airport terminal, Elle walked alongside Evan. “How did you find her in New York?” she asked in a whisper. “Her cell phone’s been turned off for weeks.” She looked back at her daughter, who was already lagging behind.
“It wasn’t easy,” he said, and shook his head. “Let’s just say…thank God I did.”