Sunday, April 10, 2016
It seemed as though he'd only just fallen asleep when the phone rang. He jumped up, instantly awake and ran to answer it before it could wake the others.
"It's Terri, sweetie, how are you?"
"Ter, we're fine... how's Bethie? How're the babies? Did they get here yet? Is everything OK?"
"The girls are fine," Terri replied.
"Girls? Bethie had girls? They're OK? How's Bethie?" he asked, dreading the answer.
"Beth and the girls are all fine, honey."
"What's wrong? Something is wrong, I can hear it in your voice. Tell me, Ter! Please!"
"Dae, honey..." Terri took a deep breath, not sure how to tell him. "Dae, there's a third baby."
Amadeo took a moment to take that information in. "There *is* a third baby?" he asked, looking for clarification.
"Yes, honey. He's very small and sick. The doctors aren't sure... they don't know... if he'll make it. He's in the NICU in an incubator. Bethie is beside herself. She's blaming herself for not knowing about him and for his condition."
"No, Ter! Bethie can't possibly blame herself for the little boy. How was she supposed to know? What could she have done if she had known? No! You tell her I said no!" he ranted, near tears, lack of sleep and the stress of the last two days finally catching up to him. "She took good care of herself. She did everything the doctor told her to. She can't blame herself. She can't!"
"Dae, honey, calm down, sweetheart, it's all right." Terri said soothingly, "We're all with Bethie, and all of us, including the doctors and nurses, have all been telling her exactly what you've been saying. Mamma and daddy are with her. Mrs. Di Marco is playing guardian angel and has ensconced herself in the NICU, keeping an eye on the baby boy. Dan is going back and forth between keeping watch over the girls and checking on Bethie. She'll come around honey, but right now she's tired and stressed and worn out from the worry and fear. She'll be OK, I promise. Right now she's been sedated and is sleeping peacefully."
"Can I come to the hospital today? Can I see the babies?"
"Carmie is going to bring the car around nine thirty. Get clean clothes for mamma, dad and Dan. Carmie'll pick some fresh ones for me and she'll drive you boys over in time for visiting hours."
Amadeo looked at his watch but the light was too dim and his eyes too tired to focus properly. "What time is it now, Ter, I can't see."
"It's... three o' clock now. Tell Gabie and Con what's going on and then go back to sleep, sweetie, ok?"
"'K." 'Deo said reluctantly.
"Promise, honey. Go right back to sleep after you tell them."
Amadeo huffed a sigh, "I can't promise, but I'll try. I really don't think anyone is going to be doing much more sleeping tonight."
"Amadeo Christoforo, you won't be much good to yourself or anyone else if you're too tired to know what's going on around you. Got me, little boy?"
'Deo gave a defeated sigh. "Yes'm, I got'cha."
"All right then," Terri replied, sure that her point had gone in one ear and out the other, "I'll call you when Carmie's on her way."
"OK, Ter. Thanks. When Bethie wakes up, tell her and Dan I'm thinking about them."
"Will do honey. Good night for now."
"Good night, Ter." he said, preparing to hang up. Suddenly the thought hit him, "Terri? Ter! Are you still on the line?"
"Yeah, honey, what's wrong?"
"Nothing, exactly. It's just that when I wake them up they're going to ask me... and I forgot to ask..."
He was pleased to hear the sigh of relief and the smile in her voice as she answered his question. Amadeo smiled broadly, wished his sister good night once again and hung up before going to deliver the news to his brothers.
"Con!" 'Deo whispered from across the room, "Con!"
As expected, Constantin jumped, still half asleep, fists flailing. "Wha...? What? What's going on?"
"Come on, come with me to Gabe's room. I have news and I don't wanna have to keep repeating myself."
Con huffed in annoyance, sure he'd only just gotten to sleep and not happy to be awakened so soon. "Awright, awright, I'm comin'." he groused.
Amadeo opened the next door and saw Paul and Angelo sprawled on Dan and Beth Ann's bed. Angelo had kicked off all of the covers and Paul had a pillow over his head. "Guys! I have news! Wake up guys and come on with me a minute." he said, laughing as Angelo growled a protest and Paul pulled the pillow tighter over his head before throwing it and accidentally smacking his little brother with it. "Coming." he groaned.
Dae walked into Gabe's room and turned on the light.
"What are you doing!? Turn that off and die!" Gabe complained, pulling his blankets over his head to shut out the light.
"Don't you mean, *or* die?" Amadeo asked with a grin.
Amadeo dodged a pillow which conveniently doubled as a missile. "OK, I guess you don't want to hear about Bethie. I'll just be going now." 'Deo said, turning off the light and preparing to leave.
"Whoa! What? Wait! What'd you say? Bethie? Get back here!" Gabe demanded, which was just as well since the other boys had all been following Amadeo and there was a scrum at the door which Amadeo couldn't get through if he'd tried. Amadeo reached up to turn on the light switch again but Gabe said "Touch that and you won't live to see sunrise."
Amadeo snickered but left the switch alone. He sat on the edge of Gabe's bed, the other boys following suit. As soon as everyone was settled, he relayed the information his sister had given him minutes before.
"A boy." Gabe breathed.
"How could they not know?" Con asked. "The doctors I mean? Did she say what was wrong with him? Do they know?"
"She didn't say, and I don't know. I guess we'll find out when we get to the hospital later."
"Twin girls." Angelo said with a smile. "That's sweet. Dae?"
"Did they give them names? The babies?" he asked, afraid that perhaps Beth and Dan had decided not to waste a name on the little boy in case he didn't survive.
Amadeo smiled, "We are now the proud uncles of little Mara Elizabeth, Olivia Grace, and Nathan Alexander." he announced, happily including Angelo and Paul in the roles of Uncles.
"Whew," sighed Con, "At least they're not horrible names!"
"Con, you're an idiot." Gabe complained.
"Hey! We were all thinking it, admit it! I mean, come on! Constantin? Amadeo? *Santa*? Sheesh! You guys never wondered what mom and dad were on when they named us?"
Amadeo and Gabe picked up pillows and began to viciously wallop their brother with them. Paul and Angelo jumped away and stood in a corner of the room, watching their friends antics and having a good laugh.
"All right! All right! I give! Our names are great! Mom and dad were perfectly sane when they named us! I give! Cease fire!" yelled Con, who was curled into a defensive ball.
Amadeo and Gabe collapsed on the bed, laughing and feeling happier and freer than they had only hours before. They were all worried about little Nathan and hoped for the best. Amadeo didn't say it aloud but he was praying that the baby boy would live long enough to meet his uncles.
"Alright, guys, I don't know about you but I'm exhausted. I'm going to sleep now. We've been officially ordered to go back to bed and that's one command I don't mind obeying right now. G'night." Deo said with a yawn.
"Sounds good," agreed Gabe, "Everybody out! This is my room and you're trespassing." he said, pulling the covers back up and settling in.
Paul and Angelo clapped 'Deo on the back and bid him good night again before returning to Dan's room.
Con paused at Gabe's door. "'night brother." he said, before turning the light on and running to his own room, locking the door behind him.
Gabe got up with a feral grin and turned off the light. "I know where you sleep, Con! I'll get you. You won't know when or how, but I'll get you when you least expect it. Sweet dreams!" he said before jumping back into his bed and curling up with his seriously deformed pillows.