Part 19: Wish you were here
"When he sings 'Can I have this dance for the rest of my life?' while looking into my eyes and holding me tight - I knew how much we needed this cruise and how loved I felt by the touch of the man I love," Kathy writes in her diary.
The couple wake in the morning to soft classical music, eat hearty breakfasts, relax by the pool, take late-morning naps. Kathy treats herself to a facial, a sauna and an upper-body massage - "I hold stress in my upper body, and I can feel it when I relax, which I rarely do at home."
One evening, after a casual Italian dinner and a show, Kathy and Joe join the other passengers in a game, a sort of scavenger hunt in which the first team to produce the most items on a list wins.
It is a merry scene, with each team frantically rustling up whatever the cruise director calls for - three pairs of men's pants, a bra, a pair of dentures. "We laughed so hard!"
Yes, it is a carefree world they've climbed aboard.
And yet, "I miss Wen and the family," Kathy writes on July 9, when the ship docks in Hamilton, Bermuda. "I hope everything is okay."
* * *
Everything is not okay.
For a few days now, Wendy has seemed sad and withdrawn. Her mother, Louise, observes her wandering aimlessly through the rooms of her house.
"Miss Kathy?" she asks.
Wendy just shrugs.
On the day Kathy and Joe reach Bermuda, she goes to the midwife's office for her 25-week checkup. Andy and Rachel come, too.
"So what's new and exciting here?" asks Christine Pfeiffer, entering the examination room. Wendy doesn't tell her right away. Instead, she confesses her dietary sins - the latest, buttered popcorn.
Christine runs through some routine medical business - Wendy's blood pressure's fine, she'll need to schedule a glucose test, and so on. She measures Wendy's belly with a tape and announces that the baby is one and a half pounds, 25 centimeters. She finds the heartbeat with her amplifier (Andy's eyes grow wide, the pounding is so vigorous) and pronounces the baby good and strong.
"So everything's fine?" says Wendy.
"Completely fine. Sounds fine."
"I just think things are wrong," says Wendy.
Christine knows this - "It's that time when everyone thinks there's something wrong. The only people who don't think that are adolescents."
Wendy looks reflective. She was a pregnant adolescent once. She worried then, too.
"This week, I've been crying a lot," she says.
"I've been crying a lot," she repeats. "I'm supposed to bring it up." She jerks her head toward Andy.
Christine turns to Andy with a knowing smile - "You're looking for a cure."
"Yeah," he pleads. "Kill me."
"He just says one thing and I'm crying," says Wendy.
What she wants is for Andy to be gentler with her, even to coddle her a bit. To not be so quick with her. To not flee to the bedroom saying, Here come the tears. Call your sister. Wendy tells him he ought to have a bumper sticker made. One saying, This isn't my deal.
Christine nods and assures Wendy that crying and snapping are perfectly normal in pregnancy.
"He's snapping back," says Wendy.
Now Andy sends Wendy a look that says, let's not put Christine through this - like she's a marriage counselor - and Wendy changes track.
She's worried, she says. Worried about the baby turning out all right. Worried about her own state of mind after the baby is born; what if she goes through postpartum depression again, as she did with Rachel. "I was happy, but I was crying. You know what I mean?"
Plus, Wendy adds, "I've been depressed because I feel pregnant."
Christine understands. "Can't hide it anymore. But your weight gain is fine. I think you're doing a great job."
Wendy looks relieved to hear this. Then, as if to put such heavy talk behind her, she mentions that it's bathing suit season. She just bought a new swimsuit, she says, one that flares out above the belly.
Suddenly, a vibe from Andy - real or imagined - causes Wendy to blurt, "You're the one that picked it out!"
"I didn't say anything!" cries Andy, his hands flying up defensively. Behind his head, a magazine in the rack is headlined, "Men Behaving Badly," but Andy's face is innocence itself.
Christine just looks on calmly. This is all as normal as swollen feet. She tells Wendy that when the pregnancy is 36 weeks along, she will prescribe a natural remedy - evening oil of primrose - that will help ripen the cervix for birth, and should also help with mood swings afterward.
"I know you'll be looking for that," Christine tells Wendy.
"So will I!" says Andy. "Stock up!"
* * *
When Kathy disembarks in Bermuda, she immediately wants to call Wendy.
She has to search to find a phone that isn't in use or broken, and when she does, the news from home isn't good.
Wendy lets her know that "mentally," she's not all right, that she's been crying all week. (Oh, that's good, says Andy, shaking his head in the background. Now she's gonna take the first helicopter home. But Wendy feels she had no choice; Kathy would know from her voice that there's a problem.)
- What do you mean, Wen? says Kathy.
- It's the hormones.
- What do you mean, Wen? Oh, Jesus. Wendy, what's wrong? I wish I was there. I'm only going to be a couple of days more . . .
- I'm fine, I'm fine, Wendy says. It's not anything about anything . . .
Then the phone goes dead. Kathy inserts all the coins she has into it - Change] she cries to Joe. I gotta get change] - but the phone refuses to work now.
It is July in Bermuda. Humid and over 90 degrees. Joe, frustrated for his wife, gives some nearby phone workers hell - What's the story] Not having working phones for the tourists] People want to use the phone] - and makes it his mission to find one.
Kathy, of course, is a wreck. What a time to lose touch] A long half-hour passes before she can finally reconnect, at which point Wendy tries to convince her that she is really okay, that really, she is.
Kathy is helpless. What can she do but assure Wendy she'll be home soon and urge her to hang in there? When she puts down the phone, she is restless. She wants to flee this place, but she can't, she's on a cruise.
There must be something she can do. Send flowers, at least. She gets back on the phone and enlists the help of Joe's friend Mickey Bailey to send a dozen roses of different colors.
She tells him to put on the card - Wen, I love you. I'll be home soon.
* * *
Back in the cabin with Joe, Kathy cries. She says she regrets coming - I should be with my sister. This is a big mistake, Joe. She chews off the acrylic nails Nicole did for her.
She manages, though, to gather herself together for lunch - they've been sharing meals with the same group of people, new friends whose good time she doesn't want to spoil. But they can tell by her red, puffy eyes that something's wrong.
I miss my sister, Kathy sobs, and tells them what happened.
The women - among them, a labor-and-delivery-room nurse - comfort her. They hold her hand, tell her everything's fine, that mood swings are all a part of it, that Wendy knows she's thinking of her.
Kathy starts feeling calmer.
Later that day, on Elbow Beach, she and Joe scrawl deeply into the sand: